Map changes – and change maps

When we take a treatment, we intuitively map changes; we evaluate whether our health improves.

Similarly, when we practice spirituality, we need to map changes: evaluate whether doing mantra meditation, going to a temple or hearing religious talks helps us feel better. If we don’t map changes, we may do these spiritual activities temporarily because of respect for tradition or some other compulsion. When life gets busy, we will probably give up these activities as impractical. But if we map changes, we will know from our experience that these activities are worthwhile and so practical.

However, if we want the full benefits of spirituality, we need to not just map changes, but also change maps. To assess the efficacy of devotional activities, we need a more reliable criterion than feel-good. Our feelings change randomly; our moods swing arbitrarily. So, by the feel-good criterion, spiritual activities may not always make us feel better. The discipline they require may even make us feel grumpier, not happier. Not because those activities are permanently impotent, but because our mind is temporarily petulant.

To avoid being thus misled, Gita wisdom urges us to change our maps. The Bhagavad-gita (12.09) indicates that devotional activities reward us increased desire for Krishna. This attraction to Krishna brings us into a whole new world of spiritual emotions that are infinitely deeper, richer and sweeter than material emotions. On the Gita’s map this emotionally rich life in relationship with Krishna becomes our destination instead of the destination of our earlier map: temporary good feelings in a life disconnected from Krishna. So, we commit ourselves to relationship-building devotional activities, even if they don’t feel good immediately.

By thus changing maps and mapping changes according to the new map, we can practice devotional service steadily and relish the reward of eternal love for Krishna.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 12 Text 09

“My dear Arjuna, O winner of wealth, if you cannot fix your mind upon Me without deviation, then follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga. In this way develop a desire to attain Me.”

Playing God or playing with God?
Might we be running in the right direction on the wrong train

Author: Chaitanya Charan Das

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