Go Cold Turkey

Attachments come from conditioning (habit) and the best way to break a bad habit is to stop indulging in it. Once an alcoholic gets off alcohol, he is told never to take one drop of alcohol again for the rest of his life. He shouldn’t get near alcohol, look at it, think about it, etc. Why? Because if he does there is every chance he’ll become an alcoholic again. If he thinks there’s no harm in tasting a tiny drop of wine, he is making a big mistake.

I want to ask you to just go “cold turkey” with an attachment. Cold turkey is a term used when drug addicts are totally denied drugs (as opposed to gradually weaning them off drugs or alcohol). Going “cold turkey” doesn’t only refer to giving up something that you are doing now, it also means that you may be following vows and principles, but internally not be fully committed to them. You may still be attached to thinking of enjoying the very things you have given up. So going cold turkey in this situation would mean to stop entertaining any contrary thoughts.

Is this going to be easy? That depends on what you want. You are attempting to build a new habit and you will likely fail from time to time. That’s OK. The more you practice, the more that new habit and new way of thinking becomes natural. The more you want it, the easier it will be to stick with it.

For example, let’s say pride is a big problem for you. Maybe you always want to be appreciated for your service; for how well you cook, how well you dress the deities, how much money you give the temple, or how well you lecture or manage. Some of us cannot even be enlivened unless we are appreciated. So to break this attachment you have to stop searching for appreciation, stop thinking about what others think of you, how they will like your service, etc. You’ll have to stop doing things to attract attention to you. And you’ll need to put more energy into appreciating others. In other words, you’ll have to serve Krsna for the right reasons. Of course, that will take time. But as you practice thinking in the right way – not looking for recognition – it will gradually become more natural to think in the right way and pride will no longer be a big obstacle for you.

So pick something that you need to deal with in devotional service and practice cutting it out at the root.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with this practice.