When Ecstasy Comes All Else Goes


Good morning. In some of your answers I have read that sense indulgence is bad for spiritual progress and moral character. What all activities fall under sense indulgence? Uncontrolled sex? Alcohol? What else apart from that? Is the desire to to try out good food of different cultures in good restaurants, a taste for good clothes and fashion, the desire to look good and fresh also a part of sense indulgence? I am asking all this because I am interested in the latter three. Do these hamper spiritual progress?

—Manisham, India


Dear Friend,

Swami Kriyananda, founder of Ananda, once asked his guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, whether all desires, even a desire for an ice cream cone, had to be overcome in order to achieve Self realization. Yogananda replied, simply, Yes, all desires.

Yet when, at another time, he asked his guru what he should do about his taste for good food, Yogananda laughed saying, When ecstasy comes all else goes.

On the upward path to truth, freedom, and God, we must be patient and fight those battles we can win. If you have mostly overcome the more intensely sensual desires mentioned at first in your note and are mostly concerned about how you look and appear to others, well, work on that playfully, for after all, you are not harming others, at least.

Gently tease yourself for your own vanity. With a friend, admit your own self conceit lightly. Pray for release from ego and self preoccupation which brings you nothing but greater insecurity.

More than anything, however develop your love for God, your depth of meditation, and your service to God in others. In the spiritual life you will in time know a greater satisfaction from which will fall away any ego gratification from food enjoyment or attractive appearance. The one is fleeting, and the other is insecure.

Blessings and joy in God,

Nayaswami Hriman