Even when bhakti doesn’t make life easier, it makes us tougher
Suppose we have a job to lift huge weights. That job can become easier if someone lightens that load or if our muscles become stronger.
Similarly, when we have to face burdensome problems, our life can become easier in two ways: if those problems decrease or if we become tougher. When we practice bhakti, we often expect Krishna to remove or reduce our problems. And that does happen sometimes. But if that doesn’t happen, does it mean Krishna is not helping us? No, it just means that Krishna is helping us in the other way: by making us internally stronger.
Our inner strength depends on the default focus of our consciousness. The more we are attached to externals that are not in our control, the more those attachments weaken us internally. If we are attached to wealth as the basis of our self-worth, loss of wealth can seem unbearable.
How can we strengthen ourselves? By shifting our attachment to something internal and unchangeable. Bhakti wisdom reveals the highest reality to be the one with unfading, unfailing potency: God, Krishna. By bhakti practice, we realize not just Krishna’s infallibility but also our own indestructibility as souls who are his eternal parts.
By thus centering us on Krishna, bhakti strengthens us to face whatever burdens life may throw upon us externally. The Bhagavad-gita (18.58) assures that if we become conscious of Krishna, we will pass over all obstacles by his grace. This assurance’s thrust is significant: not that obstacles will disappear, but that our consciousness will rise above them.
If we expect bhakti practice to make our life easier, our expectations may or may not be met. Instead, if we see bhakti as a practice meant primarily for toughening us internally, we will never be disappointed.
Think it over:
- When our bhakti practice doesn’t reduce our problems, does that mean Krishna is not reciprocating?
- What determines our inner strength or weakness?
- How does bhakti make us tougher?
18.58 If you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all the obstacles of conditioned life by My grace. If, however, you do not work in such consciousness but act through false ego, not hearing Me, you will be lost.
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