Devotion molds our heart and service shapes our life
Bhakti-yoga is a symbiosis of inner emotion and outer action. The Bhagavad-gita (09.13-14) points to these inner and outer dimensions. Devotees are internally fixed in Krishna, knowing his position and living in his shelter (09.13). And they are externally dedicated to glorifying, worshiping and serving him (09.14).
These dual dimensions are encapsulated in Srila Prabhupada’s English rendition of bhakti as “devotional service:” Devotion conveys the inner emotion; and service, the outer action. Internally, devotion molds our heart, making it a fit place for Krishna to reside and reign. Diligent practice of bhakti-yoga drives out the impurities, infatuations and whatever else may have captured our affections – whatever may have usurped the place of the Lord of our heart. And parallel to the expulsion of such substitutes – in fact, propelling their expulsion – bhakti-yoga invokes the increasing inner presence and perception of Krishna.
Externally, service shapes our life, making us tangibly connected with him through practical acts that express our devotion, or at least our aspiration for devotion. As our feelings can be unpredictable, we may sometimes not feel devotion. Still, we can, by making concrete commitments to serve him, place ourselves in the association and situation that increase our exposure to stimuli connected with him. And that exposure, along with his mercy that we attract by serving him determinedly, stimulates and strengthens our inner feelings of devotion.
Significantly, devotion and service inter-relate symbiotically. The more we cultivate devotion internally by remembering Krishna, praying to him and directing our emotions towards him, the more we feel inspired to serve him externally. And the more we thus expose ourselves to outer devotional stimuli, the more that stimulation nourishes our inner devotion, inspiring us to serve him more. Overall, this symbiosis enables us to find increasing satisfaction in Krishna through both our inner and outer connections.
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