Self-control is best maintained by avoiding situations that require self-control. - ISKCON Kolkata

Suppose we have resolved to increase our self-control by, say, regulating our eating. But we suddenly get a desire to eat something. If we have fatty food readily available nearby, then, even without our conscious awareness, our hand will reach to it, and we will find ourselves eating, even bingeing.

After such relapses, we may berate ourselves for having no self-control. However, such self-derision is rarely productive; it just makes us feel more depressed. We can progress more productively towards self-control by avoiding situations that require self-control, say, by not keeping tempting foods near us. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (02.58) urges us to distance our senses from sense objects.

How does such distancing help us? By making the mind’s tendency to choose the path of least resistance work for us instead of against us. If indulgence is readily available, the mind’s tendency pushes us towards indulgence. But if indulgence is not readily available, then the mind, governed by that same tendency, deems the indulgence too demanding and gives it up.

Of course, we can’t always distance ourselves from temptations. Also, distancing won’t work if the desire is not circumstantially-induced but is deep-rooted. Such a desire will impel us to go from temptation-free situations to temptation-filled situations. So, we do need to purify our desires by connecting with all-pure Krishna through bhakti-yoga practice.

Still, even while practicing bhakti, temptation can distract us. By avoiding tempting situations, we can minimize distraction and cultivate greater absorption in Krishna. With the resulting purification, we can decrease our vulnerability to distraction, thereby increasing our divine absorption and the consequent purification. Both strengthen our access to the ultimate happiness of pure spiritual love for Krishna.

Thus, avoiding tempting situations helps us enter a powerful positive cycle of absorption and purification that catapults us to supreme satisfaction.Suppose we have resolved to increase our self-control by, say, regulating our eating. But in between our meals, we suddenly get a desire to eat something. If we have fatty food readily available nearby, then, even without our conscious awareness, our hand will reach to it, and we will find ourselves eating, even bingeing.

After such relapses, we may berate ourselves for having no self-control and may even become depressed. However, such self-derision is rarely productive. We can progress more productively towards self-control by avoiding the situations that require self-control, that is, by not keeping tempting foods near us. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (02.58) urges us to distance our senses from sense objects.

How does such distancing help us? By making the mind’s tendency to choose the path of least resistance work for us instead of against us. If indulgence is readily available, the mind’s tendency pushes us towards indulgence. But if indulgence is not readily available, then the mind, governed by that same tendency, deems the indulgence too demanding and gives it up.

Of course, distancing ourselves from temptations is not always possible. Also, distancing won’t work if the desire is not circumstantially-induced but is deep-rooted. Such a desire will impel us to go from temptation-free situations to temptation-filled situations. So, we do need to change our desires. We can purify our desires most effectively by connecting with all-pure Krishna through bhakti-yoga practice.

Still, even while practicing bhakti, temptation can distract us. If we can avoid tempting situations, we can minimize distraction and cultivate greater absorption in Krishna. With the resulting purification, we can decrease our vulnerability to distraction, thereby increasing our divine absorption and the consequent purification.

Thus, avoiding tempting situations helps us enter a powerful positive cycle of absorption and purification that catapults us to life’s supreme satisfaction

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