Devotion commences when God becomes our guide and culminates when he becomes our goal
To embark on any journey, we need to know the starting and ending points. In our devotional journey toward God, what are the starting and ending points? They are based on our conception of God: initially, we see him as a guide to some goal; ultimately, we see him as the supreme goal.
Amid life’s difficulties, we sometimes feel the need for help from someone stronger or wiser or both. When this need inspires us to turn to God as a guide, our devotion commences (Bhagavad-gita 07.16). At this stage, we have our own life-goals, but we regard God respectfully as a reliable guide for achieving those goals.
If we start practicing bhakti-yoga, the time-honored process for nurturing devotion, such practice stimulates an evolution in our conception of God. We start seeing him not just as the provider of good things but as the ultimate good thing himself. Everything attractive manifests a spark of his all-attractiveness (10.41). In his highest manifestation, he reveals himself as the supremely loving and supremely lovable person, Krishna. When we appreciate him as the embodiment and fulfillment of our heart’s deepest aspirations, we realize that directing our longing for love toward him can provide us the supreme satisfaction. Thus, we make him our supreme goal (07.19). To stop seeing God as a means to some other goal and to start seeing him as the greatest goal – that is the culmination of devotion.
A question may arise: Isn’t attaining Krishna’s abode to live with him the purpose and perfection of devotion? Yes, but loving absorption of our mind and intelligence in him, as happens we make him our most cherished goal, is non-different from living with him (12.08). Thus, perceiving and pursuing him as our highest goal is the culmination of devotion.
Think it over:
- When do we start seeing God as a guide?
- When do we start seeing God as the greatest goal?
- What attributes of God inspire you personally to pursue him as your ultimate goal?
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