Lately, I feel I've come to understand, in my own personal way, what is meant by the Christian notion of "temptation."
As a Buddhist, I find "temptation" lurks in that which pulls me away from practice, away from awareness, away from the path.
Personally, my "temptation" is less along the lines of "lust" and more along the lines of "sloth."
Over and over again, I find this pattern in my practice: as soon as I have a small realization and am ready to "go deeper" in my practice--finally learning what it is to sit without a goal; getting a hint of what emptiness is; understanding where freedom truly lies--I get pulled away from the path, distracted by idle entertainments.
Most recently, this has taken the form of video games. Other than work, my activities consist primarily of working out and playing Oblivion. Neither of which are "bad," but both of which have taken my energy and attention away from awareness. In the past three months or so, I have hardly read anything, have only written in my journal a few times, and have stopped sitting again except for the rarest occasions, after starting the year with a vow to sit daily again! I feel like I've completely lost touch with myself and that I am living in a very mindless, animalistic way, just drifting from one pleasurable activity or sensation to another.
And it's been a battle with myself to try to change this trend. With spring here, and the warm weather and greater amount of sunlight, my energy has returned but I still find myself drifting into my usual tired old sensual indulgences. I find that these behaviors go against the discipline and awareness required by practice. And so it is I am "tempted" away from the path by sensual pleasures, as in old Christian stories of the Devil tempting a person away from righteousness with visions of sensual pleasures and forgetfulness. The Buddha was similarly tempted by Mara while sitting under the Bodhi tree, but ultimately resisted that temptation.
It's interesting, because the Zen ideal of no-mind seems to make some people think that living a life of minimal self-awareness is a good thing, but I can say that all it does for me when I stop reflecting on my life, thinking about things and writing in my journal, is that I become the human equivalent of a slug. Yes, a slug is perfect in its slug-ness, but a slug cannot be aware of that perfection.
But at the same time, I don't know how to instill discipline now and have it stick as I no longer believe in cosmic rewards for "doing good." I want to wake up, but the sleepy part of me that just likes to "veg out" seems to be winning lately.
How then to overcome temptation without buying into a false story about holiness?