Don’t just take in the diagnosis – take the prescription too
Suppose a person, during a routine medical checkup, finds that they have a dangerous disease. If the disease is also complex to understand, their head may start reeling. An expert doctor will tell them, “I know this is a lot to take in. Don’t bother about understanding everything right away. The most important thing is to start taking the prescription immediately. The medicine will make you feel better, and then we can discuss any questions you may have.”
We need to approach spiritual life with similar pragmatism. Our spiritual guides are like doctors who explain that we are afflicted by bhava-roga, the disease of material attachments that binds us to the cycle of birth and death. The Bhagavad-gita’s philosophy is like the diagnosis and bhakti-yoga practice is like the prescription.
Sometimes, understanding how we have become entangled, what the entangling force is, how it entangles us, how even our well-intentioned actions may end up entangling us more, and how exactly bhakti practice disentangles us – figuring all this out can make our head reel. After all, illusion has been haunting us for lifetimes and we can’t expect to become free from it in a few hours or even a few months. If we get bogged down in philosophical intricacies, our guides will tell us, “Get out of your head. Just start practicing bhakti-yoga. You will feel better, think clearer and understand deeper.” The Gita (10.11) substantiates that bhakti practice invokes divine grace, which brings understanding. So, we needn’t delay our taking the prescription till we have taken in the philosophy entirely.
Undoubtedly, philosophical understanding can boost our devotional determination. And studying the philosophy devotionally is integral to the bhakti treatment. But through it all, we need to focus on remembering, serving and loving Krishna – that alone can heal and liberate us.
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