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Conquer your inner enemies

LTP / April 18, 2024

Inner Enemies

We dissipate a substantial portion of our thought power and energy in combating people whom we perceive as enemies and potentially harmful to us. The Vedic scriptures say that the biggest enemies — lust, anger, greed, illusion, pride, and envy — reside in our own mind. These internal enemies are even more pernicious than the outer ones. The external demons may injure us for some time, but the demons sitting within our own mind have the ability to make us live in constant wretchedness. We are aware of people who have had everything favorable in this world, yet, they led miserable lives as their own mind tormented them incessantly through depression, hatred, tension, anxiety, and stress.

Desire - The Most Malignant Enemy

Of all these internal enemies, beware of desire or lust, the most detrimental of all, forewarns Shree Krishna

काम एष क्रोध एष रजोगुणसमुद्भव: |
महाशनो महापाप्मा विद्ध्येनमिह वैरिणम् ||

śhrī bhagavān uvācha
kāma eṣha krodha eṣha rajo-guṇa-samudbhavaḥ |
mahāśhano mahā-pāpmā viddhyenam iha vairiṇam ||

          (Bhagavad Gita 3.37)

“The Supreme Lord said: It is desire or lust alone, which is born of contact with the mode of passion, and later transformed into anger. Know this as the sinful, all-devouring enemy in the world.” To want, long, or hope for something is kāmanā (desire). There are fundamentally five kinds of desires – to see, to hear, to smell, to taste, and to touch. Together, these are called kām (lust), and referred to by the word desire.

Desire is universally singled out in all the Vedic scriptures as the crucial mental affliction. Why is desire considered as the biggest menacing enemy although it is less harmful in comparison to anger and greed? It’s because, desire begets anger and greed.

Desire – The Mother of Anger & Greed

Anger or greed do not come by themselves. Anger arises when we harbor a desire and its fulfillment is obstructed. Desire on the other hand is such a disease that can never be satiated. The more we fulfill it, the more it gets inflamed. Hence, greed comes from the satiation of desire. Bhagavatam states that the lure of the sensual pleasures inflates the greed:

न जातु कामह् कामानाम् उपभोगेन शाम्यति
हविषा कृष्ण वर्त्मेव भूय एवाभिवर्धते

na jātu kāmaḥ kāmānām upabhogena śāṁyati
haviṣā kṛṣṇa-vartmeva bhūya evābhivardhate
(Bhāgavatam 9.19.14)

“Fulfilling the desires of the senses does not extinguish them, just as offering oblations of butter in the fire does not extinguish it; instead, it makes the fire blaze even stronger.”

Why Do We Desire?

When we repeatedly contemplate that there is happiness in some object, our mind naturally becomes attached to it. We get attached to everything we have and everything we do - our thoughts, ideas, the way we go about doing things, places we visit, people present in our lives, etc.

Therefore, the cause of desire is attachment. Our mind is a frequent visitor of the things and people it is most attached to. For example, if one is attached to alcohol, the desire for alcohol comes frequently to the mind. If one is attached to cigarettes, then the thoughts of the pleasure of smoking cigarettes continually flow in the mind.

Thus, when we harbor attachment, it will lead to desire; from desire will arise anger and greed; and from anger will arise subsequent enemies, like illusion, envy, etc.

Nurture Your Desire for God

The entire downward spiral leading to ruin begins with contemplating happiness in sense objects. The urge for happiness is as natural to the soul as thirst is to the physical body. It is impossible for the soul not to contemplate happiness. The ocean of happiness is God Himself, and since we souls are tiny fragments of God, we naturally seek happiness. So, the simple solution is to seek happiness in God.

If we repeatedly contemplate happiness in God, we develop attachment toward Him. “Spiritual attachment and desire are not to be given up; in fact, they are most praiseworthy. They are to be cultivated and increased for purification of the mind,” elucidates Swamiji.

When we develop love for God and get divine bliss, we experience the higher taste for which we have been craving since infinite lifetimes, as the Taittirīya Upaniṣhad states:

रसो वै सः रसं ह्येवायं लब्ध्वा आनन्दी भवति

raso vai saḥ rasaṁ hyevāyaṁ labdhvā ’nandī bhavati (2.7.2)

“God is all-bliss. When the soul attains God, it becomes satiated in bliss.” Then, we naturally develop dispassion toward the lower sensual pleasures. The attachment to God replaces the attachment of the world.

The greater the burning desire we develop for God, the purer our mind will become. Unlike the material desire, the desire for the Supreme Lord does not bind the soul; rather it liberates us. This divine attachment will purify our mind, as God is all-pure. The result – triumph over all our internal enemies!

“Thus, the Art of Mind Management does not require a dry suppression of desires; instead, it entails their beautiful sublimation towards a higher direction,” explains Swamiji.