Bhakti requires a radical re-assessment of our deepest desires
Some people equate bhakti with externals – they assume that if they are doing devotional rituals right, they are well-situated.
However, the essence of devotion is the dedicated direction of our desires towards the object of devotion, the all-attractive supreme, Krishna. Even when we are engaged in devotional activities externally, our deepest desires may still be something other than Krishna – for example, prosperity or popularity. We may hope that Krishna will grant us opulence or that people will glorify us for our saintliness. Such desires prevent us from tasting Krishna’s sweetness, thereby keeping us away from steady spiritual consciousness.
Our distracting desires may well exist below our conscious awareness. To detect them, we need to be relentlessly introspective. We can specifically note what dreams excite us the most, what fears worry us the most, or where our mind goes whenever we aren’t purposefully engaged.
After such rigorous re-assessment of our desires, we need to redirect them in the light of bhakti wisdom. The Bhagavad-gita (10.41) indicates that everything attractive reflects a spark of Krishna’s supreme attractiveness. When we internalize this insight, we realize that all the pleasure we get from worldly things will be available in its fullness and richness in Krishna. This realization inspires us to make him our defining and driving desire.
Such re-assessment is radical because most people tend to be materialistic. And this tendency extends to spiritual life too, wherein most seekers settle for some level of compromised spiritual practice that looks and feels good. Those who embrace the challenge to become purely devoted are rare indeed (07.03).
Nonetheless, the rewards awaiting the pure are worth the effort. The Gita (07.28) indicates that when we redirect our anti-devotional tendencies and reinforce our devotional tendencies, we relish Krishna’s supreme sweetness, thereby becoming fixed in devotion and going beyond illusion.
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