“As tension cannot occur without the chain, so can temptation not be felt without desire.”
The fettered man
What is temptation? Imagine a man wakes up and finds himself chained to a wall by invisible steel fetters. But who, making no effort to leave the wall, hardly notices the chains and thus cannot experience its tension. Suddenly he sees a light in the distance, and decides to walk towards it. But within a few steps, the invisible chain becomes taut and its tension catches him. He yanks, but the steel fetters resist. “What is this?” He thinks to himself. “I was apparently free moments ago, but now something is binding me.” He now feels the tautness of the chains that moments earlier felt mild, so long as he was not moving. And so, he must try to struggle free, otherwise he cannot reach the promising light in the distance.
This picture represents man in relation to temptation. The wall represents the earth and all its pleasures, the chain is desire, the tension of the chain is temptation, and the light represents the longing for Luminous Truth burning within us. Temptation is when we experience the tension between two directions—upward and downward. Like the fettered man, so long as we are content with mundane lives that pursues nothing higher, we will not recognize the extent of our bindings. But the moment we start striving upward, only then will we start feeling the tenacity of all desires and thoughts binding us to the earth, the tension that appeared mild so long as we were comfortable in its embrace. Thus, the struggle is a call us to overcome all base attachments in order to be free, so that we might reach the goal of our longing…the heavenly heights above!
After this overview, let us now examine how the human soul interacts with the environment and affects what is experienced as temptation. Thus, we ask: what is the process of temptation?
What is the process of temptation?
Every deep inner wish a person has is a spiritual electric switch that releases a wave of power and assumes a form expressing a concept. This form is then transformed into thoughts. Simultaneously, the Law of Attraction sets in: these thoughts attract and are attracted by similar metaphysical thoughts, thereby connecting the person through the links of his own thoughts to a wider network of homogeneous thought-centers.
What the person then experiences as temptation is the attraction between his thoughts and those of his homogenous metaphysical environment. Hence, nothing physical can ever tempt, for we are tempted only by our thoughts about what is physical. More explicitly, we are tempted by the wish within the thought. All physical things do is act as a symbol that represents a defined wish and causes preexisting inclinations within the soul to stir, which activates the attraction process we experience as the “pull” or “tension” of similar thoughts. Thus, the greater the desire the more tense the magnetism. Hence, the power of temptation lies in desire, because desire is the lever that releases the magnetic power which animates thoughts and activates the attraction process of temptation.
Person A is hungry, and sees his favorite food on the table. As he walks toward it, his anticipation grows, causing his mouth to water. As he finally sits before it he feels tempted to eat it—due to his hunger and fondness for it, so he struggles to retain composure. Now picture Person B in the same situation, but who loathes the same food on the table. As he walks toward it, his displeasure checks any enthusiasm, causing him instead to feel nauseous. As he sits before it he would not feel tempted to touch it—due to his aversion for it, so restraint would be easy. Between these two, if the food was the same, what was the difference? Desire. Person A desired it, so he formed thoughts that affected the body through the watering of the salivary glands. However, Person B did not desire it, so he formed opposing thoughts that affected the body through the nauseous feeling.
In this process, we see the close relationship between desire and temptation, and how thoughts even affect the chemical production in the body. The physical object did not cause temptation, but was only a symbol that triggered preexisting desires within both people, which activated the attraction or repulsion process. Hence, before the opportunity of temptation, the seed of desire was nestled in the soul, though dormant—the same way some animals hibernate during winter and only need the opportunity of spring to awaken. For the human soul, this awakening happens when the “hibernating” desire and thought meets the external opportunity of temptation.
We have thus struck the salient word that greatly influences the development of the soul… opportunity. The effects of the latter, together with desire and temptation, are closely interwoven. But we must not rest content with this idea, for we must seek to understand what opportunity is, what it implies, and the automatic effect it has on desire. Thus, we ask: what is the role of opportunity in relation to desire?
What is the role of opportunity in relation to desire?
In Nature, it is the environment that provides the support lifeforms need to develop. Think of dormant trees during winter; their barren branches, the inactive roots. Both are alive yet appear dead only because they lack the right season to support their awakening. Now picture when Spring comes, what happens? All that appeared dead suddenly awakens and grows! What can we learn from this? Simply: everything needs the right environment to develop to its full potential. Moreover, each environment automatically reinforces or hinders the development of each life-form.
The same principle we observe in our physical world also operates in the inner life of the soul. Opportunity is a type of environment, and desire is the seed of a life-form in the soul. As an environment, opportunity gives access to a world of homogeneous thought-centers that either helps or hinders the growth of a type of desire, the same way a climate can help or hinder the development of a life-form in Nature. If desires are seeds, thoughts are weather, and opportunity is the climate. Consequently, our desires are resolutions that require the reinforcement of an inner and outer environment to reach its potential.
The importance of environment and development is captured in the Biblical narrative, whereby it states that God created the environment before He created animals and man. For only through the right environment in harmony with the Divine Laws can an entity develop toward its potential. But we also see the effect of succumbing to temptation in this same narrative whereby the human spirit embarks on a course that hinders its development. Consequently, opportunity is the fertile environment that enables a desire to grow and bear fruit, i.e. visibly manifest.
But in the beginning of positive change when inner faults like roots still nestle deep within, we have thus found a way to help ourselves. And that is to avoid opportunities of temptation. In addition, we should also strive to create or find a counteracting environment. The latter is an atmosphere that nurtures something more noble within through our active involvement, such that what is still base can slowly weaken and in time even completely die off through continual pure efforts at inner improvement. Therefore, it is important to not only focus on a “resolution”, but equally emphasize creating the type of environment it needs to grow.
And that is why, as soon as the prodigal son desired his Father’s Kingdom, he not only dropped the husks, but in addition he completely removed himself from the environment it was being consumed by focusing exclusively on the luminous goal and actively journeying there. He did this in order to safeguard his earnest volition from all adverse influences, so he might unswervingly pursue and reach the goal of his longing…his Father’s Kingdom!
Thus, any upward striving person should avoid opportunities of temptation, i.e. environments where wrong desires can be nourished. Above this, great and pure, should be the longing and active striving toward the Luminous Heights, the Eternal Kingdom of God.
In conclusion, when recalling the initial illustration about the fettered man, we are reminded that it takes serious movement in a different and higher direction to start feeling the extent of our inner chains, which we must burst asunder through help from above and effort on our part to be free.
As we are connected through desire, it is in desire that the attractive power of temptation lies. Figuratively speaking, the releasing lever of desires is like the mouth of a person who, through the respiratory system, draws oxygen from the environment and blows it into a balloon. As he exhales, so the balloon forms. The balloon is the type of thoughts we form, and the air represents the living power from Above that flows through everything, which we human spirits guide through our inner desires into thoughts. And just like the air does not originate from earthman, but only passes through his body, so does the Living Power from Above only pass through the human spirit as a sustaining grace. We are only allowed to use it.
As the Living Power is only loaned to us, it logically follows that it is the property of God the Father, and we human beings are but guests permitted to make use of it in accordance with the Will of the Owner. It is from this perspective that many of the parables of Jesus are framed, whereby there is often a Proprietor, then there are laborers employed to work for the Proprietor. And just as the laborers can be expelled and replaced if they continually fail to comply with the Owner’s Will, i.e. do what the latter hired them for—as is indicated in the parable of the wicked tenants, so do we human beings stand before God in relation to the use of His Living Power, before Whom we must all render account for everything we desire, think, and do—as is indicated in the parable of the talents.
But as we can only adjust to the Divine Laws—through the increasing recognition of the Perfection of God’s Activity—when we properly know it, then it follows that the most urgent necessity for us human beings today is the earnest spiritual striving to recognize and fulfill this Will of the Creator, the Proprietor. It also implies our true friends are those who, blessed with living knowledge, demonstrate and reveal this Divine Will to us in its true Nature.
The more we strive to recognize and adjust to this Sublime Will, the more joyfully will we assume the position that is required by our being permitted to exist in the Creation of the One, of the Almighty, of God the Father!
~Dr. Ikenna Q. Ezealah
The insights in the above essay, “what is the role of desires in temptation?” are derived from my application of the knowledge of the classic work, “In the Light of Truth”, The Grail Message by Abd-ru-shin; the main work of the Alexander Bernhardt Publishing Company.