Devotion fosters absorption, not obsession

Some people accuse devotees, “You have become obsessed with Krishna and irresponsible about everything else.”,

It’s sadly true that some devotees become negligent. But such negligence is usually due to a fragmented understanding of devotion as solely other-worldly. However, devotion is also world-engaging.

When devotion is properly understood, it fosters not obsession, but absorption. What is the difference? Absorption is constructive; obsession, destructive.

Suppose a child who is playing with a ball chases it to the middle of a street oblivious to the traffic. Such dangerous absentmindedness is obsession.

Consider, in contrast, an archer fighting in a war. They are focused on the target as well as aware of the bigger picture that they are fighting as soldiers in an army against an enemy. Such purposeful focus is absorption.

But don’t some advanced devotees become obsessive? Not exactly. They may become unmindful of the world and lost in Krishna in a way that may seem obsessive, but because Krishna is the foundation of all of reality, they are ultimately in tune with all of reality by being in tune with Krishna.

However, most devotees are seekers, not seers – the Gita enjoins them to serve in this world through practical contribution. The Bhagavad-gita (18.46) states that those who see Krishna as the source and the sustainer of everything worship him by working according to their nature. With this understanding, we see our particular abilities and duties as ways to serve our Lord. With such holistic awareness of Krishna and specific focus on our service to him, we all can attain perfection.

The principle of perfection through devotional engagement is demonstrated by Arjuna on hearing the Gita. He didn’t become obsessive or irresponsible; he became absorbed in responsibly establishing dharma for Krishna.

Thus, the Gita’s vision of absorption is not obsessive absentmindedness; it is responsible single-mindedness.

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  1. hare krishna prji, Excellent lecture

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  2. (1) THis sloka also shows that path of karma (swakarmana), patha of devotion(abhyarchya) and path of knowledge (siddim) are not separate paths but are all interrelated.

    (2) the spirit with which we perform our day jobs MUST be consistent with our devotional mindset.

    (3) This is often quoted as “man me Ram aur haath me kaam” (let your limbs perform your duty with Ram (or Krishna) in your mind.

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  3. devotion decimates obsession

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