I’ve been reading Gandhi’s memories, and I found this passage extremely insightful for us. He got married at 13. The following episode happened during his schooldays:
The same company would have led me into faithlessness to my wife. But I was saved by the skin of my teeth. My friend once took me to a brothel. He sent me in with the necessary instructions. It was all prearranged. The bill had already been paid. I went into the jaws of sin, but God in His infinite mercy protected me against myself. I was almost struck blind and dumb in this den of vice. I sat near the woman on her bed, but I was tonguetied. She naturally lost patience with me, and showed me the door, with abuses and insults. I then felt as though my manhood had been injured, and wished to sink into the ground for shame. But I have ever since given thanks to God for having saved me.
I can recall four more similar incidents in my life, and in most of them my good fortune, rather than any effort on my part, saved me. From a strictly ethical point of view, all these occasions must be regarded as moral lapses; for the carnal desire was there, and it was as good as the act. But from the ordinary point of view, a man who is saved from physically committing sin is regarded as saved. And I was saved only in that sense. There are some actions from which an escape is a godsend both for the man who escapes and for those about him.
Man, as soon as he gets back his consciousness of right, is thankful to the Divine mercy for the escape. As we know that a man often succumbs to temptation, however much he say resist it, we also know that Providence often intercedes and saves him in spite of himself. How all this happens – how far a man is free and how far a creature of circumstances – how far free-will comes into play and where fate enters on the scene – all this is a mystery and will remain a mystery.
(An Autobiography: Or The Story of my experiments with truth. Part 1, Chapter 7, A Tragedy)
Lessons I learned:
Even the Mahatma has faced the strong influence of sexual drive. It almost ruined his faithfulness to his wife. Even though, he was still able to be the unique and inspiring human being he was. His strenght didn’t come from not being tempted, but from his commitment to the truth. He might well have fallen that particular day - circumstance has saved him. Many of us know exactly this feeling. We oftenly escape from relapse by the skin of our teeth. We also fail a lot. And yet, mostly, there isn’t such a big difference in merit.
Having failed a bunch of times doesn’t mean we are lost.
Our consciousness is being educated. It will fructify in time.
Keep fighting, boys
(Want to dive into Gandhi’s mind? Check out the book for yourself:)