The world is a pleasure dome. It’s a place with beautiful sights, sensory delights and manmade comforts. It’s a venue where one may become overwhelmed with pleasure seeking. One must strive to not become dependent on the pleasures of the world.
How is one to control the pursuit of gratification?
There are so many permissible items that one may possess. In order to control desires, one must distinguish between preferences and needs. One may prefer a luxury late-model automobile to a less fancy mode of transportation, yet one should draw a line between what one would like and what one needs. One needs water, air and nutritious food. One would like an expensive multi-course restaurant dinner. As long as a person views the things of the material world as “likes” instead of “needs,” one will be able to enjoy life even if one is unable to attain every wish.
Some people fool themselves into thinking that their addiction is really a conscious decision to partake of the indulgence that enslaves them. They wrongly believe that they still have the freedom to decline if they wish. It’s vital that one avoid satisfying desire so that one remains free to walk away when one chooses. Harav Eliyahu Dessler said, “If a person is not the master of his wealth, but his wealth is his master, his entire wealth has no value” (Michtav MeEliyahu, vol. 1, p. 65).
It’s okay to want. It’s dangerous to need. Decline sometimes, and you’ll remain free to enjoy.
One More Second: Another Thought for the Day
Harav Aharon Kotler writes that even one categorized as a rasha, wicked man, by the Heavenly Court on Rosh Hashanah can still effect a change in his verdict through repentance during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah (Mishnas Reb Aharon, Vol. 2, p. 179).
Sincere teshuvah always accomplishes; no one should ever consider himself beyond the point of return. Even one who has sunk to the lowest levels of spiritual decadence can be born anew though teshuvah.
(Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, Inspiration and Insight, vol. 2, p. 95)