Seek not success in karma – seek success beyond karma

Success in karma refers to the attainment of worldly fruits such as prosperity, position, power, prestige and pleasure. Seeking such success, we often try to please influential people who can help us attain these things. These people may be contemporary political leaders or economic barons. Or they may be higher beings such as the gods, as the Bhagavad-gita (04.12) indicates.

Even if we become successful in karma, we won’t be satisfied because all worldly things are temporary, whereas we at our core are eternal. Naturally, we long for lasting fulfillment. That longing can be best fulfilled through spiritual love for Krishna, whose parts we are eternally. As matter is peripheral to our essential identity, material things can offer us superficial pleasures – sensations that leave our heart unsatisfied.

Attaining pure spiritual love for Krishna is success beyond karma. This success raises our consciousness beyond this material world, the arena of karma, to the spiritual world, the arena beyond karma. To attain this success, we need to learn to love Krishna by practicing bhakti-yoga. The Gita (04.09) assures that those who truly understand the transcendence of Krishna’s appearance and activities achieve transcendence themselves; their heart becomes charmed by his loving nature, and they attain him, never returning to this mortal world. Later, the Gita (18.55) states that bhakti grants authentic understanding of Krishna.

However, we won’t feel convinced enough to practice bhakti diligently as long as we conceive success within the arena of karma – we will feel that worshiping gods or godlike people will be more fruitful. But when we let Gita wisdom expand our definition of success to the arena beyond karma, we will embrace bhakti-yoga wholeheartedly, being convinced that spiritual love alone can grant us real happiness.

Thus, bhakti practice will raise us to life’s highest success – success beyond karma.

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