Sri Ramakrishna would caution his devotees about dealing with desires in one’s heart, particularly base desires such as lust and lucre. He would say that it is very difficult to get rid of desires which one has been cherishing for long. To illustrate the idea, he used to narrate an incident from daily life.

There was a man who had a pet dog. He used to pat it, carry it about here and there, play with it and even kiss it.

A wise friend of his, seeing his foolish behaviour, warned him not to lavish such affection on a dog, for it was after all an animal and might bite him one day. The owner took the warning to heart and putting the dog away from his arms resolved never to embrace it again.

But because of its habit of having been embraced for a long time, the animal could not understand the change in the attitude of his master and would run to him frequently wanting to be held in his arms. But shunned several times, the dog at last ceased to trouble his master anymore.

Such is the condition of a person afflicted by desires. The dog (desires such as lust, etc.) which one has been cherishing so long in one’s heart will not leave the person easily even if one wishes to be rid of it. The dog cannot be embraced anymore, but shunned whenever it approaches and in due course of time one will be altogether free from its importunities.

The moment the awareness dawns on the sadhaka about the dangers of lust and lucre, he has to be ever alert and be aware of the dangers such desires can bring about.

Whenever they try to rear their head, they have to be firmly dealt with by not yielding to them. Eternal vigilance is the price one has to pay for spiritual progress.

By Swami Shantatmananda

Published in the ‘Sacred Books of the East’ column, Sunday Guardian, 25th May 2013

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