The Man Who Thought He Was Proof Against Temptation
Mr. J. was a confirmed drunkard. After meeting a saint, he took a vow to abstain from drinking. He asked his servants to hide his costly wine in locked boxes, to keep the key, and to serve the liquor only to his friends.
For some time, Mr. J. felt joy in the power of his new resolution against drink. He was unaware of the unseen gripping lure of the liquor habit.
As time went on, he felt himself proof against liquor temptation, he asked his servants to leave the key to the wine room with him so that he could serve his friends himself. Feeling mental security, he decided it was too much bother to go to the cellar to get liquor for his friends, so he kept some wine bottles hidden in the parlor.
After a few days, Mr. J. though: “Since I am proof against liquor, let me enjoy the sparkling red wine in the bottle on the table.”
Every day he looked at the bottle. Then he thought: “Since I no longer care for liquor, I will take a taste of the wine, and spit it out.” He did this. Then he thought: “Since I am so strong in my resolve, there will be no harm if I swallow just a sip.”
After that, he thought: “Since I have conquered the habit, let me take only one gulp of wine at a time, as many times as my un-enslaved will desires.”
Then he got drunk and kept on being helplessly drunk every day, just as he had before, in spite of his resolve.
The Importance of the Right Environment and Thoughts
Mr. J. had failed to realize that his resolution against liquor had not had time to ripen into a good habit. It takes from five to eight years to substitute a good habit for a strong habit. Before the strong good habit is formed, the devotee must stay away from evil habit-forming environments or actions.
Above all, he must never let evil thoughts enter the mind. The thoughts cause the actions and are therefore more dangerous.
If you have a tendency to live on the misery-producing material plane, learn to stay away from tempting environments and to cast out thoughts of temptation. Surround yourself with the right environment, and keep your mind filled with thoughts that benefit you.
Meditate Deeply Until You Contact God
Renounce last year material failure, mental and moral weaknesses, spiritual indifference, and half-hearted meditations by using your will to be prosperous, to exercise self-control, and to meditate deeply until you contact God.
One cause of failure is that you do not weigh your bad habits against the power of free will required to combat them. When you determine to do something that you know is absolutely right, go through with it at any cost. This will give your wisdom-guided will more power over your bad habits.
In meditation, the mind withdraws the life force from the muscles and nerves, and concentrates it in the brain cells, where the evil mental habits are grooved. This concentrated life energy in the brain burns out the grooves of mental habits lodged there.
The right method of meditation is the only way to all-round freedom and lasting success. You must consciously contact God. Finding Him, you will attain dominion over yourself and all limiting conditions.
Excerpted from How to Awaken Your True Potential by Paramhansa Yogananda
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