A lot is happening when nothing seems to be happening
When people meet each other, they often ask, “What’s happening?” And one reply may be, “Not much.” When people talk about happenings, they usually refer to external events, especially if those people subscribe to a materialistic worldview.
Interestingly, some spiritualists too give excessive importance to externals. They equate outer action with entanglement, and renunciation of outer action with liberation – an equalization that the Bhagavad-gita (03.04) rejects. Such a privileging of externals over internals can breed superficiality or even hypocrisy. The Gita (03.06) cautions that those who are externally inactive and apparently renounced may well be internally hyperactive, dwelling on and craving for sense objects. If they make no attempt to correct this mismatch between their outer and inner lives, their consciousness will become increasingly contaminated and will eventually impel them to outer degrading actions. Such a slide to degradation is not an abrupt happening; it stems from the negative inner contemplations happening earlier. Therefore, more important than outer happenings are inner happenings, which refer essentially to how we are striving to keep our consciousness principle-centered and to curb our lower desires.
The preceding analysis, though meant to keep our focus on internals, is not meant to trivialize externals. Undoubtedly, externals do help in shaping internals. A materialistic environment makes retaining spiritual consciousness difficult, whereas a spiritual environment makes cultivating spiritual consciousness easier.
Bhakti-yoga harmonizes externals and internals in a transformational package. Bhakti recommends practical action, wherein we use our senses and resources constructively in Krishna’s service. And it recommends devotional meditation, wherein we remember him by chanting his holy names. During chanting, we may not seem to be doing much –just uttering some sounds. But we are actually connecting with the all-pure supreme, thereby purifying and preparing ourselves for the best happening: liberation and attainment of Krishna’s eternal abode.
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