I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it.
In her article titled "Don't Bite the Hook", Pema Chodron defines the Tibetan word shenpa as the root cause of aggression and craving. Someone says or does something and you immediately react with anger or distaste. You feel a sensation in your body and without thinking, you scratch the itch or feed the craving. The hook appears and you bite without thinking. Some things are just charged with energy that forces you to respond (almost like a reflex) and you say and do things that you ordinarily wouldn't.
"It's a quality of experience that's not easy to describe but that everyone knows well", writes Chodron. I think Flip Wilson's character Geraldine, tried to explain it best by saying, "The devil made me do it!"
Chodron offers meditation as a way to learn to open and relax with all of the hooks that may appear, without picking and choosing. We can learn to diffuse the charge if we catch shenpa at an early stage, she says. I think we can also do it while physically active and moving through life.
Jehangir Palkhivala has suggested that we allow ourselves to experience santosa, or contentment, before trying to move deeper into a yoga pose: count three breaths, enjoy where you are in the present and then move and make any adjustments on the fourth breath. It takes away the urge to go directly to the edge only to hang out with the discomfort of your efforts or anxiously await the next pose. Instead, you have a chance to appreciate each step along the way.
With enough practice, it will translate as well to life off the mat. The hooks will become more visible, even when disguised by bait, and there would be no need to avoid temptation. Until then, we practice.
~Read "Don't Bite the Hook" by Pema Chodron in Tricycle Magazine.
~Watch Flip Wilson tell a short story about Geraldine and her preacher husband. You Tube, 2:45.
Image: Shumata on Flickr