Essential intention is more important than incidental action
To err is human. Whenever we attempt anything worthwhile, we usually go through failures before attaining success. Even children taking their first steps slip and fall many times before they learn to walk.
On the spiritual path too, we tend to have our missteps; we fail to live according to expected devotional and ethical standards. While treading the path of self-improvement, we need to avoid exposing ourselves inordinately to judgmental people. Such people delight in finding others’ mistakes and labeling the disheartened victims of their judging mentality as hopeless failures. Their critical comments can demoralize us, sometimes even making us feel like giving up.
Krishna shows us how to look at our present condition: focus on the potential and stick to the process for making the potential actual.
Thankfully, Krishna is not judgmental; he is compassionate. His purpose is not to catch us when we do wrong, but to coach us so that we can do right. Desiring to bring out our best, he looks beyond our incidental actions to our essential intention; he focuses not on what we do occasionally, but on what we want to do consistently. In the Bhagavad-gita (09.30), he declares even those who succumb to misdeeds as saintly provided they remain determined to love him. Given our lapses, our saintliness is presently potential, not actual. But through this declaration, Krishna shows us how to look at our present condition: focus on the potential and stick to the process for making the potential actual.
Being souls who are at our core pure, we all have the potential for purity. And the process of bhakti has the potency to bring out that purity by connecting us with the all-pure Supreme, thereby dissipating all impurities.
By meditating on our spiritual potential, on bhakti’s potency and on Krishna’s compassion, we can maintain hope amidst our incidental indiscretions. And by the strength of the resulting spiritual determination, we can persevere on the path to pure devotion.
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