Temptation is only possible when a person is attached to something in the world. The two energies that exert the most intense pressure for experience are channelled through the temptation of sex and power through economic gain; all other temptations arise from these two primary forces. Remove the allure of sex and material acquisition, as happens in physical death, and what remains is original purity. Within the unconscious, sex is synonymous with divine love but this becomes a destructive force when stoked by the emotional virulence of self. Similarly, the creative principle is degraded in human affairs when used as a controlling element over others. And so it is said that the incorruptible cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Human beings have been tempted by the forces of sex and money in its many guises over the millennia. This is described in the myth of Lucifer as the fall of Man whereby human beings, in becoming enamoured with their own light of divinity, elected to build a world in defiance to the creator God. In the progressive drive into existence, the human race gradually forgot its sublime origins and became entrenched in matter as the attachment to the formal world. Today, the temptations of the world exist to entice and beguile; and yet, paradoxically, serve as necessary devices for someone resolved in becoming more conscious of their inner being. At every stage in the spiritual process, a man or woman is tested to ascertain their worthiness to descend more deeply into the truth of existence.
Perhaps the two most well-known examples of temptation are described in the story of Jesus of Nazareth being tempted by the devil; and of Siddhartha confronting Mara, the sexual demon that arose to lure him away from realising the Buddhic state of consciousness. Both temptations represent the magnet of power in the world and the sensual experience of sex. The challenge for Jesus to realise, and be, the Christ was the temptation offered by the devil. At the time when the man Jesus was alive, the world view was limited compared to the perspective we have today. At some point in the living experience, Jesus the man was compelled to face temptation in a way that made him temporarily question his resolve as the saviour of his people. The worldly temptation offered to him was to have at his disposal all the territory within his purview and the loyalty of the people who inhabited those lands. The devil is the doubt in matter and can externalise at a particular point in the self-realisation process as an aspect of the unresolved psychic force within the body.
For Siddhartha the task was to resist the almost overwhelming sexual enticements of Mara to disengage from his one-pointed focus on the Atman, the godhead of the spiritual being. It would have been impossible for him to do this were it not for the fact that, as a prince of a fabulously wealthy King who indulged his every wish, he had access to female concubines with whom he could make love whenever he desired. Unless a man or woman has fulfilled every particular desire necessary to free them, they will be unable to resist the temptation of the experience sensed to be missing. Whenever someone succumbs to any form of self-indulgence, such as excessive food or drink or being curious about someone else’s problems, they abdicate the responsibility of being true to the virtue of life on earth.
The solution to overcoming temptation is to remain conscious in the fulfilment of any desire. The integrity of the spirit then ensures that the value of the experience is retained, but what is no longer needed is discarded. Each time someone succeeds in overcoming the enticement to indulge in anything, however small, they strengthen their resolve to go deeper into the timeless state. As a man or woman approaches the realisation of their own divinity, they attract to themselves the greatest temptation that provides the opportunity to release the last vestige of attachment to the world. The strange thing about this is that, when it happens, the individual is inwardly prepared and willing to face whatever is necessary to enter a more profound state of reality.