When we strive for self-control, especially in terms of freedom from certain impurities, we sometimes label ourselves as impure if we can’t free ourselves from impure desires.
However, our life’s trajectory is not determined by what we feel; it is determined primarily by what we will. This difference between emotions and intentions doesn’t mean that whatever happens in our inner world is ok and that all kinds of thoughts and feelings are acceptable; it just means that we need to first win battles that are winnable and then work toward winning remaining battles. Or put another way, a state with good law and order or good border security doesn’t necessarily mean that it has absolutely no criminals or invaders; it first means that such law-breakers aren’t allowed to gain enough strength to create troubled, even if they exist.
The Bhagavad-gita (02.70) compares the rising of sensual desires in our consciousness to the occurrence of disturbances in an ocean whenever a river flows into it. If the river is large, naturally some disturbance will occur; but if the ocean is far larger than the river, then the disturbance won’t disturb much. Our consciousness is like that ocean into which various stimuli will pour in like incoming rivers. We can’t entirely control the size of the rivers, for we can’t entirely control what kind of stimuli we will encounter in the outer world. But we can change the size of our consciousness by changing the primary object of focus for our consciousness, by changing what we are primarily attached to, by changing what we think most about.
When our consciousness becomes attached to the supreme spiritual reality, Krishna, then that gives us such inner fullness that we don’t feel inclined to act on lower desires even if they arise within us.
samudram āpaḥ praviśanti yadvat
tadvat kāmā yaṁ praviśanti sarve
sa śāntim āpnoti na kāma-kāmī
āpūryamāṇam — always being ﬁlled; acala-pratiṣṭham — steadily situated; samudram — the ocean; āpaḥ — waters; praviśanti — enter; yadvat — as; tadvat — so; kāmāḥ — desires; yam — unto whom; praviśanti — enter; sarve — all; saḥ — that person; śāntim — peace; āpnoti — achieves; na — not; kāma-kāmī — one who desires to fulﬁll desires.
Lord Krishna Said: “A person who is not disturbed by the incessant ﬂow of desires – that enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being ﬁlled but is always still – can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires”
Although the vast ocean is always ﬁlled with water, it is always, especially during the rainy season, being ﬁlled with much more water. But the ocean remains the same – steady; it is not agitated, nor does it cross beyond the limit of its brink. That is also true of a person ﬁxed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. As long as one has the material body, the demands of the body for sense gratiﬁcation will continue. The devotee, however, is not disturbed by such desires, because of his fullness. A Kṛṣṇa conscious man is not in need of anything, because the Lord fulﬁlls all his material necessities. Therefore he is like the ocean – always full in himself. Desires may come to him like the waters of the rivers that ﬂow into the ocean, but he is steady in his activities, and he is not even slightly disturbed by desires for sense gratiﬁcation.
That is the proof of a Kṛṣṇa conscious man – one who has lost all inclinations for material sense gratiﬁcation, although the desires are present. Because he remains satisﬁed in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, he can remain steady, like the ocean, and therefore enjoy full peace. Others, however, who want to fulﬁll desires even up to the limit of liberation, what to speak of material success, never attain peace. The fruitive workers, the salvationists, and also the yogīs who are after mystic powers are all unhappy because of unfulﬁlled desires. But the person in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is happy in the service of the Lord, and he has no desires to be fulﬁlled. In fact, he does not even desire liberation from the so-called material bondage. The devotees of Kṛṣṇa have no material desires, and therefore they are in perfect peace.