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KC Nectar - Dec 13

What is Lust ?
From Spiritual Warrior II
Transforming Lust into Love by HH Bhakti Tirtha Swami Krishnapada
(Part 4 of 4) Submitted by Manoj 

Passing the Lord's Tests

Do we put God first in all circumstances? The Lord will test us to find out. We should not think that the great spiritual leaders of history were the only ones to be tested! Just as Job, in the Bible, underwent severe trials, we all have challenges that give us the opportunity to demonstrate the level of our commitment to spiritual life. The stories about Job's many difficulties are not merely about events that happened to somebody else. They are for us to study and ponder in order to be better prepared for our own trials. If we analyze and understand Job's ordeals, we can learn how to be successful despite our own difficulties. Then when challenges arise, we can smile, realizing, "Here is my chance to get more mercy from the Lord. Here is my chance to prove my dedication and to demonstrate that I'm in the world, but not of it."

Of course, we can also fail our tests by remaining attached to this world, which means that we are not yet receptive to God's will. Remember, the Lord tests us to discover whether we are willing to put Him first no matter what. That is why we should remain calm if we have no money, no food, nobody to talk to most of the time, nobody to laugh with or nobody with whom to share our lives. This has all been arranged by the Lord, and there is a reason for the situation we are facing that is higher than we can discern. If there were no greater reason, God would be making a mistake in our circumstances. If we accept that proposition, then we must believe that God acts foolishly and cheats us sometimes. No; it is we who make mistakes, not God.

There is a divine order in the apparent inequality of one person's great abundance and another's unending misery. The Lord notices what we do with what He gives us. He also wants to see how we behave if He takes something away. When everything seems to be going well, we should be careful not to fall into the trap of saying selfishly, "All praises to You, Lord! You are so wonderful! Now, bring me more stuff!" If we maintain that attitude, we are apt to curse the Lord, or wonder if there really is a God at all, when He takes everything away.

The Temptation of Jesus

Remember the story in the Bible of Satan's efforts to tempt Jesus? When Jesus had fasted for many days, preparing to accomplish his greatest works, Satan tried to distract him with ideas of material gain, saying words to this effect: "You're supposed to be a son of God, and you're hungry. If God loves you, certainly you can turn these rocks into food." If Jesus had been a materialist, he might have agreed and used his powers for personal sense gratification. In more recent times, communists also exploited this approach, saying to hungry people, "So, you are spiritual? Then pray to your God for bread." Then they would provide bread from the market, saying, "Here. Now where is your God? Who is your real well-wisher?"

If we give priority to material life, we can easily become distracted, because temptations will bewilder us over and over again. But Jesus was not upset by his situation in the desert, nor was he disturbed by the devil's temptations. He did not seek mystic powers, but instead offered himself unconditionally to the Lord without expectation of reward. Consequently he was unmoved by Satan's admonitions.

Accounts of the temptations of spiritual masters can serve as examples to prepare us for our own trials and to teach us how to remain calm and steady in happiness or distress. When we can remain equipoised in all situations, we no longer need to be tested, and the Lord will place us in more pleasing circumstances. However, if we keep finding ourselves in painful circumstances, suffering from intense loneliness, for example, then we should understand that we have not resolved certain entrenched negative patterns.

Normally, we notice what we lack. We think, "Lord, I've been fasting; I've been praying; I've been crying my eyes out. When are You going to notice me? You can tell that my eyes are red, my voice is choked up and my knees are sore. How long does it take you to give me what I want?" The thought never crosses our minds that the Lord might be giving us what we need, even though it may not be what we desire. Our lack of gratitude only prolongs our suffering. We should try to discover the Lord's mercy in all our circumstances, however difficult they may be. He is offering us an opportunity to grow.

Different Degrees of Lust

Lust touches every living being in this material world. Indeed, we can categorize various species of life according to the degrees of lust that cover their consciousness. The Bhagavad-gita explains (Bg. 3.38): "As fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror is covered by dust, or as the embryo is covered by the womb, the living entity is similarly covered by different degrees of this lust."

A tree or any other plant is compared to an embryo covered by the womb. These particular forms of life experience almost total imprisonment. The second category, animal life, is in a position resembling a mirror covered by dust. Animals have a higher consciousness than plants, so that the lust covering them can be more easily removed, just as it is easier to remove dust from a mirror than to bring a fetus out of the womb.

The last classification refers to human beings. Sometimes a fire generates smoke so thick that we cannot see the flames. But if we fan the fire, the flames becomes stronger and the smoke dissipates. Human beings are not as covered over as plants and animals. If we light a match to set a small fire, a strong wind can spread the flames and bum down a house or even a great forest. Similarly, God-consciousness is capable of developing in human beings to grand proportions from a tiny spark. However, if we do not stimulate that potential by "fanning the flames," the spark will not develop sufficiently to make a fire.

Continuing with this analogy, we have the choice of raising our level of consciousness by means of spiritual activities, or of allowing our spiritual spark to become extinguished. Sometimes a spark leaps out of the fire and bums, itself out on the ground. In the same way, when we move too far away from the source-our natural connection with God-we are heading toward disaster.

Importance of the Human Form

Although all life forms on Earth are affected by different degrees of imprisonment in the material world, the human platform is exceptional, and human beings have an important role to play. The Bible corroborates this, saying that humans have dominion over other living beings on this Earth. The word "dominion" here does not imply a right to exploit or abuse, but it does indicate that the human condition has special meaning.

What is so unusual about a human being? According to the Vedas, there are 8,400,000 varieties of life forms that the soul can occupy. Among these, the human form is the only one that can serve as an "escape vessel." This means that souls can free themselves from the cycle of birth and death only while in a human body. An animal or plant that dies moves up to the next species automatically through the spiritual evolutionary process. According to the teachings, human beings are the only ones endowed with sufficient ability to make inquiries about self-realization and to learn how to obtain relief from suffering, disease, old age and death.

God's Help Is Always Available

As human beings, we must make intelligent use of this precious opportunity. We can do so if we remember that the Lord is present in our hearts as the Holy Spirit or Supersoul, providing us loving guidance. When we are selfless, the Lord knows. Conversely, as we have seen, the Lord is aware of our improper behavior, too, and we will be held accountable. If we are feeling lonely, depressed, forsaken or overburdened, we must remember that this particular kind of test is being given to us to see how we respond.

As we pass our tests, we experience greater happiness and joy. We are beginning to experience higher pleasures by connecting with the reservoir of all pleasure, the Supreme Lord. To prepare ourselves for going back home to Godhead, we must attune ourselves to the spiritual world while still in this material environment. Such attunement means that we learn to become selfless rather than selfish, compassionate rather than cruel, and free from the clutches of greed, lust and anger.

Lust never fulfills us. We have seen how it works. Lust turns into anger; anger turns into illusion; and illusion attracts us over and over again into the confusion of being separate from God. We can interrupt this endless cycle only by making a firm commitment to convert the lust back into its original form of love.