Be not sentimental or judgmental – be transcendental
Sentimentality and judgmentality are two obstacles on the spiritual path.
When we are sentimental, we become puppets of our feelings. While practicing bhakti, if we feel good, we become maudlin, thinking that we have attained pure devotion and will see Krishna in a day or two. And if we don’t feel good, we become disheartened, and start wondering whether we are wasting our time in worshiping Krishna, whether he even exists. Such sentimentality strips us of the consistent commitment necessary for purifying ourselves of worldly infatuations and preparing our heart for sustainable transcendental sentience. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (12.13) commends devotees who stay steady amidst joys and sorrows.
If we get past sentimentality by practicing bhakti strictly, we often fall for judgmentality. We become proud of our strictness and look down at those who practice bhakti differently. And we condemn materialists who don’t practice bhakti at all. Little do we realize that by entertaining such disdain, we ourselves are not practicing bhakti – we are meditating on our own greatness, not Krishna’s greatness. The same Gita verse (12.13) reminds us that devotees are meant to be everyone’s benevolent friends. But benevolence can’t find a lasting residence in a judgmental heart.
A question may arise: “To help others, don’t we need to determine their level of spiritual evolution?
Yes, but such discerning is characterized by compassion, whereas judgmentality is characterized by condescension. And judgmentality alienates the very people whom we intend to help. Further, it hardens our heart towards them and towards the Lord who is compassionately present in their hearts.
Bhakti is transcendental; so it can bless everyone, whatever one’s conditions and conditionings. By meditating on the transcendental potency of bhakti and putting aside our judgmental attitude, we can become channels for bhakti to enrich our hearts and the hearts of those around us.
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