Devotion is expressed through intention and attention, not just emotion and action

People often equate devotion with feel-good emotions or ritualistic actions. If they feel good while practicing bhakti or if they execute religious rituals diligently, they think they are devoted.

Yes, emotions and actions are important in devotion, but they alone don’t comprise devotion – intention and attention are also important.

Complement emotion with intention:

When we practice bhakti, we may sometimes feel good and sometimes not. When worldly desires dominate our consciousness, our bhakti practices feel tasteless. How can we persevere in bhakti? By meditating on our core intention to develop a loving relationship with Krishna.

To help us solidify this devotional intention, Gita wisdom provides a philosophical framework. It explains that we are souls, parts of Krishna, meant to delight in eternal love for him. We can attain that love by practicing the process of bhakti-yoga.

Understanding how important cultivating devotion is, we won’t stop practicing bhakti just because we don’t feel like doing it – as we wouldn’t stop doing our job because we don’t feel like doing it.

When we complement emotion with intention, we bring steadiness into our connection with Krishna.

Complement action with attention:

Even when we practice bhakti-yoga steadily, we may still do it ritualistically – out of deference to cultural convention or religious tradition. But such ritualistic devotion is like going to work just to mark our attendance instead of working attentively to get things done. When we practice bhakti, we aren’t meant to just mark our attendance at certain rituals; we are meant to invest our attention in doing them, knowing that these practices offer us precious opportunities to connect our consciousness with Krishna and to experience his presence.

When we thus connect ourselves internally by emotion and intention as well as externally by attentive action with Krishna, we attain him (Bhagavad-gita 08.07).

Think it over:

  • While cultivating devotion, why do we need to complement emotion with intention?
  • How can we strengthen our devotional intention?
  • While cultivating devotion, why do we need to complement action with attention?

 

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