Bhakti redefines desires as doorways to the divine
Desires are recognized in spiritual circles as dangerous – they can drag seekers into the darkness of illusion in the vain pursuit of worldly pleasures that turn out to be disappointing and entangling. Accordingly, the Bhagavad-gita (02.70) urges us to not become desirers of desire (na kama-kami). This usage implies that we should deliberately disregard degrading desires even when they are present.
Yet the Gita doesn’t sentence us to denial of all desire. Instead, it espouses the path of bhakti-yoga that centers on redirecting the power of desire from the world to Krishna. In fact, desire for Krishna is the pre-condition for his self-revelation. Only when we desire to know and love Krishna and express that desire by serving him does he choose to reveal himself in a way that charms our heart. Put another way, spiritual desire brings Krishna to the door of our heart, and opens its door for him to enter and eventually be enthroned as our Lord. The Bhagavad-gita depicts Arjuna’s desire to hear Krishna’s glories as manifest in the world so that he can spiritualize his perception of the world (10.17). Far from reproaching him for this desire, Krishna expresses delight (10.19) and speaks his glories – glories that dissipate Arjuna’s illusions (11.01) and enlighten him about Krishna’s position (11.02).
Further, desires for Krishna – desires to know him, love him and serve him – intensify our remembrance of him, which is the source of great happiness. Such happiness by satisfying our innate need for pleasure empowers us to resist more firmly the worldly desires that distract or slow us during our spiritual journey.
Thus, the redefinition of desire through bhakti most efficaciously curbs worldly desires and also opens the doors for us to come closer to Krishna – to comprehending him, serving him, perceiving him, loving him and relishing him.
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