It's All About Our Motives
I was walking home from Shul. 3 attractive girls were crossing my path and as much as I tried at the time to switch off my lust it was difficult since these girls were quite bubbly and ever-present --hard to ignore! So I went for plan B and shifted into giving mode. I immediately thought of them as real people instead of thinking about what their attractiveness does for me. Three real PEOPLE were now about to cross my path and, with Hashem's help, the event was soon behind me.
This reminds me of a famous Zen story I heard recently that I keep coming back to. (I'll replace the monks and Gurus with Chassidim and Rebbes :)
A Rebbe and his Chassid were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the men were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her.
The Rebbe carried this woman on his shoulder, forded the river and let her down on the other bank. The Chassid was very disturbed, but said nothing.
They both were walking and the Rebbe noticed that his Chassid was suddenly silent and enquired "Is something the matter, you seem very upset?"
The Chassid replied, "As Yidden, we are not permitted to touch a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?"
The Rebbe replied, "I left the woman a long time ago at the bank, however, you seem to be carrying her still."
It's in the mind. It's all about our perceptions and motives. This time around on Duvid Chaim's call, with Hashems help, I'm really understanding this and becoming quite aware of when I'm leading myself astray.