Vanity thought #1106. Su-medhasah part 3

So let’s say I proved that our medium to long term planning in the current conditions require us to surrender to Kṛṣṇa before the world catches us in its downward spiral. Let’s say it has become fairly clear that for our own safety we need to invest in Kṛṣṇa consciousness now, to get ourselves ready before it’s too late to pick up the beads.

That would be great but it’s only solving a part of our problem. We can compare it to choosing a university for our pre-school children and starting a fund to pay for it when the time comes in the next fifteen years, or to starting a saving plan for our retirement. It’s great, it’s a responsible thing to do, it puts us into the right mood vis-à-vis our spending urges, but it still can’t hold against daily distractions.

Splashing on less than necessary items like new phones or computers won’t kill our long term plans but it will make us regret our decisions every time the credit card bill comes. Translating back into chanting – daily temptations of the mind won’t probably affect our end of life destination but they would ruin our today’s experience.

First, we need to approach our chanting as an investment project. We need to be in the right frame of mind when we start – from now for the next two hours I will be taking care of my future. I will not be simply moving my mouth, I will be preparing my spiritual “retirement”. It’s an important thing to do, it’s like a job, it requires voluntary effort and concentration.

Yet even if we manage to prepare ourselves for chanting this way it doesn’t stop our minds from dwelling on short term distractions. We still need to learn how to deal with those, too, just as we need to learn to postpone personal stuff when we are busy at work. We’d still get paid but it just won’t feel right.

Let’s take another example.

A few days ago I met a woman that caught my attention. I could say that we “clicked” and there was a certain chemistry between us. The attraction is there but I can’t afford to do anything about it. It would ruin my own life and my family, too. Now, every time she comes into my mind I have to look at a bigger picture to mitigate the agitation, so far it works.

I think not only how I would feel in her presence but also how I would have to sneak away to meet her, how I would have to hide her texts and calls on my phone, how I would have to invent lies to my family, and how it would all ruin my experience.

When I add all those fears and inconveniences to the initial attraction it doesn’t sound very attractive anymore. Just not worth the trouble. I think this could be called a victory of intelligence over the senses, a smart thing to do. Then I can continue chanting in peace.

There’s another aspect to it, too – if the attraction is too strong than all the sacrifices to keep illicit association going will feel justified even to a strong intelligence. We need to learn to avoid that trap because there will be no way out of it, once we are caught we are done for.

The key here is to anticipate the attraction and avoid fanning it as early as possible. More time spent in the presence of the subject strengthens the argument presented by the senses. From hope of enjoyment it would gradually become a taste and then a habit. At that point it would become irreversible and too painful to fix.

We need to see the future before senses experience it for real. We need to learn how senses work before they get a trial run and get hooked. This is how brahmacarya works – by avoiding women altogether and keeping one’s nose clean.

Some devotees think that brahmacarya means staying strong in the face of attraction but they are wrong – it means avoiding attractions altogether.

I think there’s a point in criticism of our ISKCON leaders when they are accused of freely mingling with women. Sannyāsīs and brahmacārīs are, reportedly, often seen sitting next to women like people do at ordinary conferences and meetings. The argument goes that men must control their senses and if materialists don’t feel agitated in the presence of females than our devotees shouldn’t either.

I disagree. Ordinary men not getting horny every time they see a female is not a sign of control of their senses, it only shows that currently their sex drive is relatively low, most likely due to overindulgence.

If we want to draw parallel with devotees here then we should compare them to gṛhasthas who have their fill of female company at home, and even then their wives should monitor their behavior in presence of other females rather closely. Trust but verify, as they say. One thing is sure – it’s not a business of either sannyāsīs or brahmacārīs.

Brahmacārī is not someone who doesn’t feel agitated in presence of women, it’s someone who avoids women altogether to avoid unnecessary agitation.

Back to the topic – once you feel that your senses smell potential gratification, stay away from the source of the “fragrance” before they lock in onto their target. Senses are mechanical objects, they don’t have a mind of their own (they use ours instead), so they can be easily manipulated. They are like magnets this way – keep them away from iron and they won’t bother you. Bring them close to iron made objects and they will be impossible to resist. For that kind of engagement they should have a docking station at home, pardon the pun.

Anyway, talking about that woman – when she comes back into my mind I overwhelm my memories with images of all the troubles I will get, and I don’t allow my mind to dwell on good memories either, nipping the attraction in the bud. I’m not planning on meeting her again and it happens I will try to avoid talking to her.

So far this works. I decided to write about it now because I feel pretty confident I got this under control. Three four days ago it was still work in progress but by now I don’t even remember what her company felt like. It works.

It isn’t my first time with this either and, by God’s grace, I always had a presence of mind to extricate myself from potentially troubling relationships before inflicting any actual damage. I’ve met women a lot more attractive than this latest one and it worked on them, too. After a while I only remember the facts, not the feelings, and I don’t dig around my memories to remind myself how warm it felt at the time.

To sum it up – this was an example of dealing with a short term disturbance, complementing a long term commitment to chanting. The only thing I forget to mention is that the other, prescribed method of dealing with it is to chant the Holy Names very loudly, it helps to drown the memories that float up to the surface of our minds. This really works, too, confirming that chanting is the best answer to everything.

It’s not an alternative method, btw, it’s just a way to achieve all I discussed above, how to actually withdraw our minds from thinking about women. I described what we need to achieve and loud chanting, as prescribed in the śāstra, is how to do it in practice.

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