Pure devotion is atelic, not telic
Telic refers to activities that are done for a particular goal. We may drive to get to office, work to earn a living or save to buy a house.
When we are goal-driven, if our goal is not achieved, we feel defeated. And even if it is achieved, we feel temporarily elated and then feel deflated. Why? Because firstly, the goal usually doesn’t live up to the hype. And secondly, having achieved that goal, we don’t know what to do next till we set another goal for ourselves.
Moreover, a goal-driven mindset just doesn’t work for some things. Consider a friendship. It is an ongoing reciprocation wherein the reciprocation itself brings satisfaction. If we pursue a friendship with a telic attitude, it will remain utilitarian, won’t ever becoming heart-to-heart.
If we want to grow spiritually, we need to adopt an atelic attitude. Spiritual life is meant to develop our relationship with the supreme spiritual reality, Krishna, whose parts we are eternally. And that relationship is an eternally ongoing process. As Krishna is everlastingly attractive, connecting devotionally with him provides lasting joy. Of course, while serving Krishna, we may set and strive to meet some goals, but the goals themselves are not our purpose; they are spurs for deeper absorption in Krishna. The Bhagavad-gita (09.14) indicates that dedicated devotees glorify and worship Krishna constantly. Devotees speak about their Lord not for remuneration or glorification, but for absorption.
As long as we see Krishna as a means to fulfill some other end, our devotion remains impure. Gita wisdom helps us understand that Krishna is Krishna’s greatest blessing and that becoming absorbed in him is existence’s supreme achievement.
When we thus see Krishna himself as our purpose, our devotion becomes pure. Thereafter, we engage in it wholeheartedly as an atelic activity that enriches us with never-ending ecstasy.
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