Love is not just feeling – it is giving
Love is commonly used to refer to the strong emotion that one person may feel for another. Yet love is not just a feeling; it is giving – a giving of oneself for another’s sake.
Consider a mother’s love for her newborn. She certainly has strong feelings for her baby, but what defines her relationship with the infant is giving. If the baby starts crying at midnight, the mother doesn’t bother about whether she herself feels good or not. Instead, she strives to calm her baby by giving herself through her milk, her soothing words, her comforting caresses and her reassuring presence. In any relationship, the more we focus on giving instead of feeling, the more we stabilize and strengthen that relationship. The same principle applies to our devotional relationship with Krishna too.
This giving aspect of devotion is conveyed in a three-verse sequence in the Bhagavad-gita (09.26-28) that describes the performance of bhakti-yoga at advanced and not-so-advanced levels. Advanced devotees offer Krishna their heart and their entire being. Even if constrained circumstances compel them to keep their practical offering very simple – a leaf, a flower, a fruit or just a little water – their mood of giving still pleases Krishna (09.26). Not-so-advanced devotees can cultivate that giving mood by offering to Krishna whatever work they do (09.27). If they steadily offer him the things dear to them at their level of consciousness, they gradually rise to life’s supreme perfection: eternal love for Krishna (09.28).
When we cultivate this giving aspect of devotion, we can transcend the unsteadiness that characterizes our spiritual practice when it is driven primarily by feelings. Rather than obsessing over how we feel while practicing bhakti, we focus on giving ourselves in committed service to Krishna. The resulting connection with him gradually makes us feel spiritually fulfilled – deeply, transformationally, perennially fulfilled.
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