The world sees outside-in; God sees inside-out
The world often judges us by our actions. Even if we have the best of intentions, if our actions don’t work out right, the world judges us as failures.
Such a situation of being judged based on things that are not in our control sentences us to insecurity.
Bhakti on the other hand focuses primarily on the state of our heart. As long as our heart is devoted to Krishna, he is pleased with us. Naturally, we want to express the devotion of our heart through our actions, but if for some reason or the other, our actions don’t work out successful, Krishna doesn’t judge us based on those actions. He sees inside-out, in contrast to the outside-in vision of the world.
The Bhagavad-gita (09.26) underscores this focus of Krishna on the intent of the heart when he states that he accepts even the simplest of offerings such as a leaf, a flower, a fruit or a little water if they are offered with devotion.
By knowing that Krishna is more concerned with intention than action, we can avoid letting ourselves get carried away by externals even in the practice of bhakti wherein other devotees may have better talents or greater resources than us for offering to him. We can know that if we are offering what we have to the best of our capacity, then Krishna will be pleased and he will guide us towards success by his omnipotent grace. Even if that success is not recognized by this world, the undeniable reality of this success will manifest in the fulfillment that we will relish in our own heart.
Of course, that devotion is primarily a matter of intention doesn’t mean that action is unimportant or that all action is to be downplayed as merely external. There is a natural correspondence between internals and externals in that whatever we feel internally, we naturally express externally.
So, if we have devotion internally, we will express it by doing our best to offer our best to Krishna. And those who are offering lavishly to Krishna may well be doing so because of the profuse devotion within their hearts.
So, we can use the centrality of intention in devotion not to downplay action, either our own or that of others, but simply to focus on not letting uncontrollable externals from distracting us from our controllable internals in our devotional growth.
By focusing on the internals and by expressing them through the appropriate externals, we can relish the eternal.
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