Don’t let the quest for perfection become the tomb of progression
When we try to grow spiritually, we may seek perfect self-control. But just as a child falls before learning to walk, so too do we slip before attaining self-control.
Rather than becoming discouraged by such inevitable lapses, we need to accept that improvement in any path is usually incremental. The Bhagavad-gita (09.32) assures that even if past negative karma has made us somehow deficient, the process of bhakti-yoga is still potent enough to elevate and liberate us. The preceding verses (09.30-31) similarly stress bhakti’s accommodating nature with regards to our vulnerability to wrongdoings.
On the devotional path, our purpose is not self-mastery per se – our purpose is absorption in Krishna. As such absorption is impeded and interrupted by our uncontrolled senses, we need self-mastery. But even if we aren’t there yet, we can still connect with Krishna by practicing bhakti-yoga whenever we can control ourselves – our senses don’t agitate us wildly round-the-clock.
When we use our present capacity to control ourselves for connecting with Krishna, we gain access, by his mercy, to higher wisdom and taste, thereby purifying us and increasing our capacity for self-control. Thus, self-control develops progressively through our Krishna-connection. If we expect perfect self-control in the beginning, that expectation becomes the tomb for our progression. We deem ourselves hopeless or label devotional standards of purity impractical or reject bhakti-yoga’s purificatory potency as hyperbole. Disheartened by these negative assessments, we give up.
We need to instead see our imperfections as impetuses for developing humility, as reminders of our need for Krishna’s purifying grace in our quest for perfection. With such humility, we can practice bhakti-yoga purposefully, connecting with Krishna wholeheartedly when we can and, weathering gracefully the times when we can’t.
By being thus both resolute and realistic, we can progress towards perfect absorption in Krishna.
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