We can’t lose weight just by reading books on how to lose weight
Learning is foundational for doing, but learning itself is not doing. The difference between the two is evident for activities such as weight loss: reading books on slimming doesn’t free us from extra fat.
However, this difference between learning and doing is not so evident when the doing comprises things to be done internally rather than externally, as in, say, changing our attitudes. We may read books on positive thinking, but that alone doesn’t make us optimists. When things start going wrong and our thoughts start running down their habitual pessimistic tracks, that’s when we need to move from learning to doing: we need to think positive.
The same progression from learning to doing determines our spiritual growth too. We may read books about life’s non-material side, about the unlimited happiness available in a devotional connection with the supreme spiritual reality, Krishna. But reading such books is not enough – we need to thereafter practice processes that will raise our consciousness from its present material level to the spiritual level. If instead of engaging in such practices, we just keep reading more and more books about spirituality, then we let reading take the place of doing. Whatever we read stays theoretical, and we stay deprived of spiritual happiness. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (06.08) states that we find higher fulfillment not by knowledge alone, but by knowledge and realization.
To help us experience spiritual reality, the Gita complements its philosophical exposition with the delineation of the process of yoga, specifically bhakti-yoga. This yoga of love gives us tangible practices such as Deity worship, chanting, going to holy places and associating with devotees. When we engage in these practices not ritualistically, but purposefully, for connecting with Krishna, we rise from knowledge to realization, thereby gradually gaining access to life’s highest happiness.
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