To achieve transformation, see devotion more as intention than as emotion
We may think of devotion as the sweet emotion we feel on, say, beholding Krishna’s Deity form or hearing a sweet kirtan. Such emotion is wonderful when it comes – and we need to cherish and relish it.
The Bhagavad-gita (06.43-44) indicates that spontaneous attraction to transcendence comes from the spiritual practice we may have done in our previous lives. This attraction activates the intense good feeling that we equate with devotion. Such good feeling may also come from our present life’s practice or from a spiritually potent environment or from saintly association; Krishna’s mercy can’t be limited to any finite list of channels.
Still, wherever that good feeling comes from, it alone doesn’t take us to perfection. Why not? Because that good feeling is intermittent. If we aspire to grow spiritually, we can’t afford to reduce devotion to an occasional and unpredictable emotion. We need to see it as a steady intention to practice bhakti-yoga, thereby transforming our heart, becoming lovingly absorbed in our eternal Lord and making the intermittent devotional emotion consistent. The Gita underscores the need for conscious intention to purify ourselves by determined yoga practice (06.45).
When we see devotion as a steady intention to redirect our heart from the world to Krishna, we gird ourselves to persevere with determination in our bhakti-yoga practice even when we feel spiritually apathetic or feel materially allured. By such unflinching practice, we open ourselves to the mercy of all-pure Krishna, thereby becoming purified of the contaminations that distract us from him. Thereafter, we feel naturally and joyfully attracted to him, no longer distracted by worldly objects.
Thus, when we go beyond seeing devotion as an emotion we feel sporadically to an intention we cultivate consistently, we tap its transformational potency fully and relish devotional emotion eternally and ecstatically.
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