Two ways to gauge our devotion
When we strive to grow on the devotional path, we may wonder, “Are we actually advancing?” To know, we can consider the change in two broad parameters: our aspiration and our dedication.
Aspiration: One of the defining characteristics of devotion is our desires. When we practice bhakti, that practice changes our desires, redirecting them from the world to our Lord, as the Bhagavad-gita (12.09) indicates. While such redirection is initially intentional and conscientious, it over time becomes natural and spontaneous. During the transition, while our desires may still keep changing, and changing rapidly, our aspirations refer to the desires directed toward something substantial and even sacred for us. When our aspirations become centered on Krishna — on remembering, worshiping, loving him — then we can know that we are growing in devotion.
Dedication: Devotion is seen not just in the quality of our desires, but also in the quality of our actions. In fact, devotion manifests not just in our specific actions that are directed toward the Lord such as worship and prayer, but also in the overall dedication of our entire life. While describing the characteristics of the devoted, the Gita states that they are dedicated to the Lord.
Devotion is manifested through aspiration and dedication.