Why spirituality isn’t world-rejecting…

Some people think that jumping over the world, with all its problems and complications, is the way to reach God. Yes, spiritualists don’t want to get caught in this broken world. And if we rush into the world to impulsively enjoy its pleasures or to presumptuously fix things on our own, we get entangled. 

Still, God is not entirely separate from the world. We need to love him in the world, through the world and with the world. 

Love God in the world: The world comes from God and is meant to serve as an arena for souls who are distanced from God to come closer to him. Indeed, the Bhagavad-gita describes how God is so concerned about this world that he personally descends repeatedly to establish dharma, social and spiritual order (04.08) by which people can ultimately move toward him (04.09). And he wants his devotees to assist in his mission for spiritualizing the world (11.33). Therefore, we need to serve God in the world by creating resources for engaging with the world in a way that spiritualizes human consciousness. 

Love God through the world: When we face the world’s challenges purposefully, we develop and demonstrate the earnestness of our devotion. In the crucible of the world’s challenges, our love for God crystallizes from amorphous sentiment to resilient dedication (09.14).

Love God with the world: The bhakti tradition declares that the world is meant to be offered to God. This means that we work in a mood of worship (18.46), using our best talents and resources for his service. 

In returning what is God’s to God, not in rejecting it as mundane, our spirituality becomes whole and takes us to the Whole. 

One-sentence summary:

We reach God not by rejecting the world, but by loving him in, through and with the world. 

Think it over:

  • How can we love God in the world?
  • How can we love him through the world?
  • How can we love him with the world?


18.46: By worship of the Lord, who is the source of all beings and who is all-pervading, a man can attain perfection through performing his own work.

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