Act it till you achieve it

When we practice bhakti-yoga, we sometimes feel bored, apathetic, unconnected. We may wonder, “Am I being a hypocrite by practicing devotion when I don’t feel devotional?”

No, we aren’t being hypocritical – we are simply experiencing the natural predicament of conditioned life. When we are conditioned by material nature, how we feel doesn’t always reflect what we value. Our feelings swing with our moods, which arise from the modes of material nature. During our bad moods, our feelings betray us – they make the important seem burdensome and the insignificant seem indispensable.

The Bhagavad-gita (14.22) urges us to become detached observers of our feelings. To detach ourselves from our feelings, we need to redirect our consciousness elsewhere. For such redirection, bhakti-yoga empowers us with its operational principle: act it till you achieve it.

Let’s analyze how acting devotionally helps us achieve devotion. Our consciousness gets inputs from both mental recollection and sensory perception. When unwanted feelings arise in our mind, we can shift our consciousness away from them by getting involved in some physical activities that are integral to bhakti-yoga. Bhakti practices are done best with the conscious desire to connect with our Lord, Krishna. Nonetheless, even when we don’t feel any attraction for him, if we still keep doing bhakti practices resolutely, then they connect us with him at least at the physical level. And by all-pure Krishna’s omnipotence, that divine connection purifies our mind and gradually pervades our entire consciousness.

Suppose we don’t feel like studying the Gita. If we still read it, connect with those who relish the Gita and speak the points we appreciate with others, those actions connect us with all-pure Krishna’s words, thereby purifying us and helping us relish the Gita.

Thus, by determined practice, the actions of devotion raise us to the achievement of devotional attraction for Krishna.

Think it over:

  1. If we don’t feel devotional while practicing devotion, are we being hypocritical?
  2. Act it till you achieve it – how does this help us become detached observers of our emotions?
  3. How do the actions of devotion elevate us to the achievement of devotion?

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