To check the outflow of self-defeating actions, check the inflow of self-deluding perceptions
We sometimes indulge in self-defeating actions, even after resolving to give them up. Why do we succumb thus? Frequently, it’s because we uncritically take in tempting perceptions that delude us.
To understand, let’s compare our consciousness to a water tank. Suppose dirty water comes out from that tank. We would check whether the water going into it is dirty or whether the tank itself is dirty.
Similarly, whenever self-defeating actions flow out from our consciousness, we can analyze their source: Are we taking in agitating perceptions through our senses or are past agitating impressions stored in our mind getting activated? Purifying the mind of its contaminated impressions takes time. Thankfully, that duration can be substantially decreased by bhakti-yoga, because this time-honored process connects our consciousness with the all-pure, all-purifying supreme reality, Krishna.
Still, inner purification can’t last for long if we let impure perceptions flow into our consciousness, just as purifying a tank can’t help much if impure water keeps coming into it. Unfortunately, we can’t shut off all tempting perceptions – the material world is filled with temptations, and especially so in today’s materialistic culture. Still, we can lower the possibility of our getting deluded by minimizing our exposure to tempting objects. The Bhagavad-gita (02.58) urges us to withdraw our senses from tempting sense objects just as a tortoise withdraws its limbs within itself.
Understandably, the Gita complements this regulation with redirection, by urging us to focus our consciousness on Krishna (02.61). Significantly however, even this verse begins by enjoining sensory regulation. Without basic regulation, we can’t focus on Krishna firmly or steadily.
When we minimize the inflow of self-deluding perceptions, the outflow of self-defeating impulses gets naturally minimized. And our bhakti-yoga practice purges our consciousness of impurities and leads us to enduring, fulfilling absorption in Krishna.