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What should be done when the mind resists following the four regulative principles? Controlling meat eating and gambling is not a problem. But abstaining from illicit sex and intoxication is very tough.
 —Sanjay Arora, by email

Our reply: Being conditioned by the material modes of nature, everyone in material atmosphere finds it difficult to follow the regulative principles to a greater or a lesser degree. Someone might struggle with particular ones or all of them. Under the false conception of “I am this body,” a spirit soul labors hard to fulfill his misdirected desires to gain satisfaction by giving into sensual urges, prominent among which is the desire to enjoy the physical body sexually for gratification.

Here are two points that can help you:

1. Duty today: Treat this fight against bodily desires as your duty. See yourself as a fighter for a good cause. When we purify ourselves, we become competent to serve God. Just like a lame or blind servant can’t serve his master efficiently, a spirit soul made blind by his carnal desires can’t serve Lord Krishna to his heart’s desire. Selfish desires shackle a spirit soul, incapacitating him in his constitutional position as a servant of God. We should see this fight as our sacred duty to express to Lord Krishna our eagerness to serve and willingness to pay any price necessary for obtaining the rare fortune of His service.

2. Pleasure tomorrow: When we fight willingly and consciously against our own dark side, Lord Krishna notes our sincerity to fight an almost hopeless battle. He awards us His mercy. Our sincerity combined with Lord Krishna ’s mercy is an unbeatable combination to win against any indomitable enemy including maya. When we are free from any limitations, we can serve Lord Krishna to our heart’s content and relish the ever-increasing happiness of service to the Supreme Lord. Think about those possible pleasurable moments when you will be able to give Krishna and His dear servants a smile on their faces by your sincerely attempted service.

These two meditations can act as our inspiration to go on in our fight against any thoughts that pull our consciousness from spirit to matter.

Scold or Pardon?

Many times in life, we face different situations. Sometimes we may scold at people, which often solves many future problems. At other we times, we feel like forgiving them. What works in one situation fails in another situation. What is the ideal approach — should we control ourselves in such situations or argue?
 —Ankita Bhat, by email

Our reply: It is always convenient to go to extremes — blast everyone we meet or forgive everyone. Both approaches are impractical. We must ask ourselves this question: What will benefit this person to grow at this moment? A student sometimes has to be taught by chastisement and sometimes by forgiveness. A good teacher knows when to use what.

A carpenter has many tools in his tool box. A screwdriver can’t do what a hammer can do, or vice versa. For a carpenter, different tools are necessary to achieve different purposes, all with one aim — to do some good carpentry. He neither hates any specific tool nor favors any one tool; he selects the tool as the situation demands.

We must use different emotions at different times to help others grow. We may either blast (argue) or forgive (keep quiet). Every emotion is a tool that can contribute to others’ lives. While application of anger can help someone understand his mistake, it can crush a sensitive person. Forgiveness can touch a person’s heart, while it can make someone else take you for granted.

How to respond in a particular situation is governed by the sincerity of purpose and purity of our heart. It cannot be governed by a fixed rule.