Question: How can we strengthen ourselves against recurring temptation?

Sri Chinmoy: There are many ways. One way is to imagine the heart of your Master. It may be difficult for you to imagine the heart of the Supreme, but you can easily imagine the heart of your Master. I am your Master. Just imagine that my heart is a golden tablet. When temptation assails you, you have to feel that this golden tablet is immediately besmeared with ink. Just before temptation assailed you, you saw that your Master's heart was like the moon, absolutely pure, a golden sheet. But now that you have succumbed to temptation, you see the result: the gold has gone away, and it is all darkness and filth. Afterwards, when you become sober, you will curse yourself. You will think, "He who is my way, my goal, he whom I love with all my heart and soul — what have I done to him? Previously he was all gold, divine, immortal, but now that I have surrendered to temptation, his whole existence is gone. If it had happened to me, I would have forgiven myself, but how can I forgive myself when it has happened to my Master?" But there is no difference between the Master and yourself, and when you are caught in ignorance, the Master also suffers.

So if you approach the human aspect of the Master, then temptation can't overcome you. But if you approach the divine aspect of the Master, you may say, "He has realised God. If I surrender to ignorance and temptation, he will remain unaffected in a sea of Light, Peace and Bliss." This won't solve your problem. True, no matter what you do, he will remain unaffected. But if you take this attitude, your temptation increases, and you go on doing the wrong thing. Also, sometimes the tricky mind operates in the divine approach. The human mind is so clever. It will say, "Why does my Master subject me to temptation if he is divine? Even if I succumb, his compassion will rescue me. So where is the need to fight temptation?" Therefore, the human approach is infinitely better. When temptation approaches, you say to yourself, "Because of my temptation, he has swallowed all my poison. I have given him poison to drink." If you approach the Divine with reverence and sincerity, but also see the Master with human love, then you will be doing the best thing.

There is also another approach which is equally effective. You have to know that temptation is not something you are experiencing for the first time. It is something that you have gone through hundreds and thousands of times. Christ and other great spiritual Masters, even when they were on the verge of realisation, faced temptation.

You have to know that what you actually want is satisfaction, and this can be found on two planes: the reality-plane and the unreality-plane. These two planes are constantly playing with each other. If you are all the time satisfied sleeping and snoring, if you are satisfied when lethargy conquers you, or when you succumb to temptation, then you have to know that this satisfaction does not produce anything divine or fruitful. At that time, you are living on the unreality-plane.

Satisfaction on the reality-plane comes when you feel that you are making constant progress, going higher or deeper. While progressing, you get a tremendous sense of satisfaction. You feel that the Goal is coming closer and is about to clasp you. On the reality-plane, God is playing an ever-transcending game with us. The Goal immediately takes you twenty steps ahead, then goes twenty steps further. Then, when you are making the twenty-first step, it comes back again and carries you to the fortieth step and once more goes away.

First you feel you are progressing to something unknowable, then you feel you are progressing to something knowable. Finally you realise not only that the Goal was always yours, but also that it is what you have always, eternally been.