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Taming the Desires

We discussed in the last article “Why Can’t We Discriminate Between Right & Wrong” that we all naturally have desires; thus we are all in danger of doing sinful actions under the influence of desire. Now let’s explore in detail about Man where desires generate and how to tame them.

How can we overcome the effect of desire?

There are two facets of our mind referred to in the Gita. They are man (the emotional mind) and buddhi (the intellectual mind).  Man is the part of the mind that generates desires and feels the impulses to do something.  Buddhi is the part of the mind that decides whether or not to do something.  In other words, the buddhi is the seat of the power of discrimination.

Ideally, the buddhi should govern the man – then the power of discrimination is allowed to function properly.  But what often happens is that we allow our man to govern our buddhi – then we regress to the state we were in as children acting on impulse. Or you could even say that we regress to the same level as animals, who always act on instinct, and do not possess a power of discrimination (to know right from wrong)!  In this case, how do we increase the ability of the buddhi to govern the man and resist wrong impulses?

Buddhi is also the part of the mind that understands concepts and acquires knowledge. Spiritual knowledge is called ‘tattva gyan‘. When we have correct spiritual knowledge, it strengthens our intellect so that it can overcome the effect of desire.

Tattva gyan helps you overcome desire

 What type of spiritual knowledge do we need to help us in this situation? Although very simple, it is the most important piece of knowledge – God is always watching us, keeping track of our actions, and arranging for us to get the reward or punishment for our good and bad actions in our future lives. In reality, we will refrain from doing a wrong thing even if we feel that a single person is watching us – then who could do a wrong thing if they felt that God is watching them? The problem is that we only keep this knowledge on a very superficial level, thus it is easily overpowered by the desires and impulses of our man.

Under the influence of desire, we conveniently forget that God is watching us. In other words, we think, “Nobody knows what I am doing or thinking right now other than me.” In this state of mind, we become nastik – non-believers in God and give in to the desire.

The solution to this problem is to strengthen this tattva gyan by repeatedly contemplating on it in our mind. The more we think about something, the more deeply that concept or belief becomes ingrained in our mind. To whatever degree this tattva gyan becomes ingrained in our mind, our buddhi gains the power to overcome the effect of desire and remain in control of the man so that it can exercise its power of discrimination. In other words, the more we believe in God, and feel His presence near us all the time, the more power we have to overcome the negative effects of desire.

Shree Krishna also mentions that desire gives rise to anger. This is another culprit responsible for causing us to do wrongs things. How anger affects us, and how we can overcome it, will be discussed in the next article.

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