Let determination enthrone, not dethrone, devotion
We may wonder: “Determination requires using our own willpower, whereas devotion requires depending on Krishna’s supreme power. How can we do these two contradictory things simultaneously?”
By seeing our willpower is a means to access Krishna’s supreme power and thereby letting determination enthrone devotion in our heart.
The Bhagavad-gita (09.14) points to this vision when it characterizes serious devotees as having both unflinching determination (yatantash can dridha vratah) and unswerving devotion (namashyantas cha mam bhaktya).
Let’s understand this integration with a treatment metaphor.
When patients are prescribed a demanding treatment plan, they need determination for doing two things. Sticking to those actions that will let the medicine do its work – take bitter pills regularly, for example. And avoiding those actions that will come in the way of the medicine doing its work – abstaining from sweets while being treated for diabetes, for example.
The process of devotional service is essentially a process of spiritual healing, of redirecting our love from the world to Krishna. In this curative process, we need our determination for doing two things. Firstly, for ensuring that we let the process do its work of increasing our attraction to Krishna by being receptive and attentive to the purifying presence of Krishna that we invoke by doing devotional activities like chanting. And secondly for ensuring that we don’t come in the way of the process by avoiding activities that aggravate our infatuation towards worldly things.
If we think that our rigid adherence to rules can makes us spiritually advanced, then determination dethrones devotion from our heart. But if we determinedly follow those rules to please Krishna and beseech him to reveal his all-attractiveness, then determination enthrones devotion in our heart as our supreme hope for happiness and prevents it from being dethroned by all other false hopes.
“Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.”