It’s not easy to resist temptation, even when you know it’s bad for you. Ask any smoker or coke addict. But just as charity begins at home, so does resistance. Resist that cheeky biscuit. Resist that click bait. There are hundreds of opportunities to build up your resistance every day.
But temptation is not just about greed or lust. It’s also about fear and loathing. When we are crossed, we are tempted to stoke up our indignation and resentment to more satisfying levels of seething anger and hatred. When we are thrown off balance, it’s tempting to give the ants free rein (anxious negative thoughts if you were wondering).
Fear, hate and greed: the three temptations of the victim, demon and addict.
Be not afraid. Whether it’s terrorism, knife crime, climate change, Brexit, populism, socialism, surveillance capitalism, artificial intelligence or the zombie apocalypse, be not afraid. Love your enemies. Don’t let hatred get the better of you. And whatever the advertisers are peddling at the moment, don’t let greed lead you astray.
But if you really want to be free, you really should also resist muggle, muppet and diva temptations. The muggle temptation is conformity and normalcy. (The Harry Potter books pointedly open with this: “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”) The diva temptations are fame, fortune, power and influence. The muppet temptation is rebellion.
It may sometimes look hopeless, but there is in fact a spirited resistance to the muppet rebellions. There is renewed interest in Christian apologetics, for example, as a counter to the excesses of the New Atheism, which was itself originally a robust rebuttal of religious fundamentalism. And there is growing resistance in academic philosophy and political theory to the excesses of postmodernism and the recent resurgence of far left and far right ideologies.
The best forms of resistance, however, are direct recourse to the Warrior, Monk, Philosopher and King archetypes:
The Warrior archetype represents Karma Yoga: the insidious fear of the victim is dispelled through Virtue Ethics. As the Stoics taught so eloquently, do the right thing and you have nothing to fear.
The Monk archetype represents Bhakti Yoga: the insatiable greed of the addict is dispersed through Devotional Music and Art. Desire is directed heavenward and transmuted.
The Philosopher archetype represents Jnana Yoga: the delusional thinking of the muppet is corrected through Traditional Wisdom. The “best that has been thought and said” through the ages trumps the latest intellectual fads.
The King archetype represents Raja Yoga: the false consciousness of the muggle is overcome through Self Inquiry. The simple question, “who am I?” digs down far deeper than any trite self-image offered by the ego.
Let Virtue Ethics, Devotional Art, Traditional Wisdom and Self Inquiry shield you against the enervating and soul destroying temptations of Modernity.
Vive la resistance!