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How to Control Your Senses, Spiritually

the senses

Who is an enemy? An enemy is he who impedes one's free will and happy life. The senses, therefore, are our greatest enemy. Our senses are constantly dictating our actions and controlling our future. You can only read this article right now because you have found time within the constant demand of sense enjoyment. The senses can be compared to one man who has several nagging wives. He comes home and finds that each wife wants his time in their respective room. He is pulled here and here by their demands. Similarly, we are subject to the pulls of the senses perpetually. The eyes want to see the beautiful form of the opposite sex, the ears want to hear music or talking, and the tongue especially wants to enjoy talking and eating. It's not possible to be calm and peaceful when the senses are not being gratified. There is a completely sound proof room in the United States, for example, where if one stays there, all he can hear is his mind. It's considered a world record setting feat to stay in there more than a few hours. When the senses have no opportunity to be satisfied, we lose our composure. We are pleasure seeking by nature, and the senses are the medium by which we enjoy life and its objects. So, although we consider ourselves free, we are never free from the control of the senses. Everything is made in such a way that to satisfy the senses is the primary goal of life.

How to control your senses

We go to school from early in our childhood, all the way up into adulthood, and in this way practically a third of our life is spent learning. Why? So we can feed ourselves, so that we can afford a nice house, car and significant other, and purchase luxuries like intoxication and expensive clothing. We are pushed into circumstances by the dictation of the senses, who command "you must enjoy." We have to accept some job we don't like for the sake of so-called happiness. We have to eat, we have to sleep, and for most, we have to mate. When these basic necessities are withheld from any one person, that is considered severe suffering because his senses aren't satisfied. So we are whipped by these different senses. The mind, being the primary sense, keeps us in lamentation for not satisfying the other gross senses. And unlike other enemies, the senses are our constant companion, and are impossible to be victorious over by our own efforts. When the mind is uncontrolled, it leads all of the senses, even the intelligence, astray. Therefore, the "top-dog" enemy in the war-field of life is the mind. We are controlled by the mind and the circumstances that affect it, which are perceived through the gross senses. Even if people try to make peace, the senses and the mind in interaction with their objects will ruin the whole effort. So the real war in life is a war with our mind and senses. In actuality, war that we see in history and at the present moment is but a manifestation of the untamed mind. A sloka in the Bhagavad Gita explains this point:

The senses are so strong and impetuous, O Arjuna, that they forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is endeavoring to control them. [BG 2.60]

The only way then, to make a peaceful resolution, something that will unite the whole world, is to control the senses in such a way that the will not be attracted by the material world, which is the cause of all conflict. But how is it possible to give up this attachment, which is such an integral aspect of daily existence? Again, the Bhagavad-Gita provides a nice answer:

The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness. [BG 2.59]

What is that higher taste? Lets say I want to eat something to satisfy my tongue, I've been working all day and I feel a little hungry. Now, to facilitate that desire, material nature provides food, and the material body eats and digests that food, processes it, and creates a new material body. In this way, nature is creating new material bodies for us by which we can experience the material world. Ordinarily we consider it good that the food is increasing our duration of life. But actually, food that is not offered to the supreme is ultimately increasing our duration of residence within the temporary material atmosphere, which is full of suffering due to the main problems of life; birth, death, old age and disease. To offer food to God is the sane path, because Krishna, God, can take away the reaction, as He is above the action and reaction of the material world, and He Himself controls the material energies. Being a minute part and parcel of Krishna, however, we are always subject to the stringent laws of nature. For example, if one overeats, he is immediately punished by his digestive system. Nature has no consideration, she will simply punish. Similarly, when we act without Krishna consciousness, for our own sense gratification, we are punished with a new material body. This is the white flag, the surrender to material nature which is our defeat in the great struggle for existence, to let our minds carry us to more temporary and frustrating material bodies. Just like when a party is defeated in war, they are subject to enslavement, prison, debts and control by the victors. We let nature do the same to us when we don't act in Krishna consciousness. Krishna consciousness means to serve Krishna's senses, rather than ones own senses, and thereby be free from the resultant reaction. So, that higher taste is becoming gradually more and more liberated from the demands of the senses, and connecting our senses instead with the all-attractive Supreme Personality in loving devotional service. That service, unlike service in this world, is eternal, thereby the pleasure of that service is eternal also.

Krishna means the reservoir of all pleasure, and by connecting with Him in yoga, by chanting the holy names of the Lord, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, we can find unlimited and unhindered spiritual bliss. By the continued process of chanting, one cleans off the previously accumulated karma from his consciousness, that which makes him bound to the material conception of life and the material body. That is the instruction of Lord Caitanya, ceto-darpana-marjanam [Cc Antya 20.12]. As the chanting progresses, one learns to see all living entities as equal to himself.

The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste]. [BG 5.18]

With this spiritual vision, one can understand his original eternal and blissful nature. In that state of consciousness, he realizes that he is not the body and the senses, nor is there any difference, spiritually, between one living entity and another. He can see that every living entity is a servant of Krishna. The war on the senses will be finally over, because to serve Krishna is the resting place of the senses. Krishna takes control by his internal spiritual potency, instead of by his external material potency. Therefore, when we attain the spiritual platform there can be actual peace. Not only will our minds be freed from the push of nature, but there will be no fighting on account of unanimous interest. In this world, our activities can be described as circles. The circle, like a compass, is drawn around a point of selfish interest. Now, someone else might have an interest, and his circle overlaps mine because the object of interest is different. But if the object of interest is the same, it doesn't matter how many circles there are. When Krishna is the center of our activities, instead of our bodies, we will never have conflict. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna explains the process of Krishna consciousness and how it acts upon the devotee, one who is acting for Krishna.

One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me—such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me. [BG 12.13-14]

People generally tend to think that war is started on the basis of some moral infraction or necessity of protection, but actually war is always on the basis of sense gratification. When we think of ourselves as the proprietor, and as the object of sense gratification, we become envious of everyone around us. One man is fighting another becomes the other is impeding the enjoyment of his senses. America, dependent on petroleum oil for it's factories, cars, planes and almost all it's facilities, fights with other countries for their supplies of oil. One country defends another to protect their economical interest. On a smaller scale, one man fights another because of a woman, money or intoxication. Everything is actually going on because the senses are dictating, "You must enjoy power, sex, money and food." And in this way we can never be free from their torture. In actuality, war in this material world is between the living entity and his own senses. The only way to real world peace, the only way to be victorious over the villainous senses is by controlling them in devotional service to the supreme godhead, Shri Krishna, and the most sublime and easy service in this age is the chanting of the holy names:

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare.

Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.

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