Monday, March 18, 2013

How Temptations Are Taught

Today I watched a very good documentary on Netflix called "The Buddha". Feeling all free flowing and stuff, I walked into the kitchen to get some water. Staring at me from a bowl was a cornucopia of "Big Texas" danishes. In my relaxed and vulnerable state, I just let myself go with the flow, and grabbed one, ripped it open, and enjoyed it. As I was consuming the empty calories, I thought about how important environment is. If that danish was not there, I never would have desired it. When I noticed it, I could have resisted, but I don't like resisting things. That takes effort. Isn't it better to just not have the temptation there in the first place? I don't know...on the one hand, learning to resist temptation is an important discipline, because, well, it teaches us discipline which enables us to expend effort, which is the only method to acquire happiness. On the other hand, if you live in a world of constant temptation it has a coarsening effect on life. The resistance that you build up in order to protect yourself from constantly falling prey to temptation spills over into areas of life where resisting diminishes your enjoyment and ability to show true compassion. So as I wiped the sticky goodness from my fingers, I re-affirmed the importance of environment. The physical things we surround ourselves with need to be chosen very carefully, so that we can feel comfortable that some pop-tart is not going to be lurking around the corner waiting to tempt us.