Bhakti empowers us to use our free will fully and fulfillingly
Our free will is our most precious asset. It enables us to seek success and happiness.
But we can’t pursue these aspirations effectively if we have habitually under-used or abused our free will. Consider, for example, alcoholics. Their repeated abuse of free will for drinking creates a conditioning that impels them to drink repeatedly. Succumbing to such impulses, they drink indiscriminately, and undergo multiple miseries including loss of face, wealth and health. Their addiction makes it seem that they have free will only to choose whether to drink whisky or brandy – not whether to drink or not. Abuse of free will has constricted the scope of their freedom.
What applies to alcoholics applies, mutatis mutandis, to all of us too based on our specific attachments. Such attachments constrain us to use our free will only partially and often unfulfillingly.
The Bhagavad-gita (15.07) outlines this predicament when it states that we are all struggling with our mind and senses in material existence. The same verse points to the solution when it states that we are all eternal parts of Krishna. We are souls meant to love and serve him – and find lasting fulfillment therein.
Bhakti-yoga enables us to direct our love towards Krishna. Even if our conditionings obstruct our bhakti practices, still no conditioning can stop us entirely from serving Krishna.
And Krishna is bhava-grahi; he appreciates our intention. When we strive to serve him to the best of our capacity, he mercifully grants us higher taste, thereby enabling us to increasingly resist the lure of lower pleasures. The more we practice bhakti determinedly, the more our free will becomes free, thereby enabling us to use it more fully – and also more fulfillingly, for when we use it to connect with Krishna, we find life’s supreme fulfillment.
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