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How Do I Break Out of the Slippery Slope of Desire? Bhagavad Gita Has the Answer!

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Desire (raga and dvesha) causes us to go down a path that leads to the destruction of our inner peace.

The path goes as follows:

  1. Dwelling (dhyayatah)
  2. Attachment (sanga)
  3. Desire (kama)
  4. Anger (krodha)
  5. Delusion (sammoha)
  6. Loss of Values (smriti-vibhrama)
  7. Corruption of Intellect (buddhi-nasa)
  8. Destroyed (pranashyati)

As long as you are living a conventional life, you will be exposed to all kinds of objects of desire. Thus, avoiding step 1 is not an option. So, how do we break free from these eight steps driven by raga and dvesha

The key to avoiding this slippery slope is #2—attachment. By recognizing that things around you are merely objects of desire, you can prevent becoming attached.

We must recognize that everything there is to accomplish in this life will never bring us perfect peace and contentment. This is one of the foundational principles of the entire Bhagavad Gita and the Vedanta itself. It’s essential to understand that your finite efforts to chase what you want  (raga) and avoid what you don’t want (dvesha) will never bring you perfect peace and uninterrupted contentment.

This recognition is the beginning of the spiritual journey. Once you realize the limitations of the physical world, you can redirect your attention inwards to gain perfect peace and contentment.

No matter how many times you see an object of desire, you will know that said object will not bring you perfect peace and contentment. With this conversion of thinking, attachment dissipates.

How Does A Tranquil Mind Lead to Inner Peace?

रागद्वेषवियुक्तैस्तु विषयानिन्द्रियैश्चरन् |

आत्मवश्यैर्विधेयात्मा प्रसादमधिगच्छति || 2.64||

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verse 64 (In Sanskrit)

With freedom from likes and dislikes, even when the senses encounter objects, being self-controlled, a restrained person gains tranquility. ||2.64||

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verse 64 (English Translation)

If a compulsive mind controls someone, they will never be in a state of inner peace. 

On the other hand, when one’s mind is tranquil, one is no longer driven by their senses. When their senses come in contact with desirable objects in the world, they don’t experience the same pull as a compulsive mind. This person with a self-controlled mind can gain inner peace.

प्रसादे सर्वदु:खानां हानिरस्योपजायते |

प्रसन्नचेतसो ह्याशु बुद्धि: पर्यवतिष्ठते || 2.65||

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verse 65 (In Sanskrit)

In tranquility, all suffering is destroyed for him. For one with a tranquil mind, quickly his wisdom becomes firm. ||2.65||

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verse 65 (English Translation)

For the person who enjoys tranquility, all suffering goes away. Suffering is caused by raga and dvesha. If you believe you will not be satisfied without fulfilling your desires, you will suffer. Suffering is when you feel that you will not be okay unless something changes.

Suffering is an inner discomfort that cannot be removed by changing your situation. You can continually change your situation, but you will be in the same place as the discontentment resurfaces. The answer is to realize that your well-being depends on your true self. 

To the extent that you recognize that inner source of contentment, external situations won’t trouble you at all. They won’t make you suffer. One whose mind is tranquil soon becomes well established in this wisdom.

Vedantic meditation is a specific type of contemplation where you continually focus on that inner source of peace and cantonment to solidify that wisdom. 

The initial discovery of the true source of contentment within has to be fully assimilated. Dwelling on that truth, again and again, is the means of assimilation. To get there, you need a tranquil mind. 

How Does A Tranquil Mind Lead to Wisdom?

नास्ति बुद्धिरयुक्तस्य न चायुक्तस्य भावना |

न चाभावयत: शान्तिरशान्तस्य कुत: सुखम् || 2.66 ||

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verse 66 (In Sanskrit)

There is no wisdom for the undisciplined. For the undisciplined, there is no meditation. For the non-meditator, there is no peace. For the unpeaceful, how can there be happiness? ||2.66||

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verse 66 (English Translation)

Breaking free from compulsivity allows you to begin this journey of spiritual discovery. Vedantic contemplation is the ability to turn your attention within and appreciate your true self as a source of contentment and peace within. 

For someone dragged about by raga and dvesha, there is no hope to gain this Vedantic wisdom nor of assimilating this knowledge. There is no peace for one who cannot assimilate this wisdom.

For a person who lacks peace, they cannot enjoy their life. Everyone has enjoyment, but moments of enjoyment interrupted by unhappy moments are an inevitable part of life. Every day we are met with new challenges to our happiness and contentment, and we have to strive to get what we feel we need and avoid what threatens us. This is the struggle of worldly life. 

In dreamless sleep, you feel perfect contentment. Your mind is asleep, but atma continues to shine as much as it does while you are awake. In this state, you feel perfect contentment because there is no struggle. 

Constant striving is suffering. The goal of life is not to sit in a chair blissed out. The aim of life is to be engaged in your daily activities but without that sense of striving or compulsivity involved so that everything in life becomes effortless. For one whose wisdom is firm, life ceases to become a matter of striving. Life becomes effortless. Effortless in the sense that you appreciate your completeness.

Solidify Your Wisdom to Gain Inner Peace

इन्द्रियाणां हि चरतां यन्मनोऽनुविधीयते |

तदस्य हरति प्रज्ञां वायुर्नावमिवाम्भसि || 2.67||

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verse 67 (In Sanskrit)

When the wandering sense control one’s mind, then his wisdom is carried away like wind carries away a boat on the water. ||2.67||

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verse 67 (English Translation)

When your senses drag about your mind, and you see something that you think is important for your wellbeing, you’re compelled to chase after it. When you see something that threatens your wellbeing, you’re compelled to run away from it. For this person, their mind is robbed of their wisdom. 

These teachings tell you that nothing in the world can give you perfect peace and contentment. When your mind gets dragged about by the senses, then that mind robs you of your wisdom. 

When your wisdom is not firm, your understanding can be shaken. But when your wisdom is assimilated and internalized completely, it cannot be carried away. Until and unless that happens, you are subject to being swept away.

तस्माद्यस्य महाबाहो निगृहीतानि सर्वश: |

इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेभ्यस्तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता || 2.68 ||

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verse 68 (In Sanskrit)

Therefore, O Arjuna, one who has completely restrained his senses from all sense objects, his wisdom is firm. || 2.68 ||

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verse 68 (English Translation)

The main problem is breaking free from compulsion. The goal of spiritual life is liberation (moksha) and freedom from the compulsion to chase after whatever you think will make you happy. 

For a person who recognizes their essential nature is the key to contentment and peace, that person’s wisdom is firm. 

First, you discern the inadequacy of worldly pleasures. Second, you further discern that the true source of peace and contentment is within. Your mind has to be deeply ingrained in the understanding of that wisdom. The process of assimilation is to become immersed in the understanding that your true nature is already complete.

To be restrained is not a matter of will. One’s willpower is not foolproof. The solution, then, is not in developing willpower. Rather, the key is developing this discernment and assimilating this wisdom.

What the Gita Teaches Us

It’s not possible to break free from temptation in this world. We can, however, avoid attachment that inevitably leads to suffering. We must first recognize that our inner peace comes from within and that no object of desire can bring lasting contentment. Once we solidify the understanding of this wisdom through repeated practice, we will be at peace with ourselves, and we will cease to seek contentment from external sources.