15.07: To be apart or to be a part?
Some people equate becoming spiritual with becoming unambitious. However, bhakti spirituality centers on ambitiousness, albeit of a kind different from the individualistic ambitiousness glamorized by our present culture.
Contemporary culture often defines success as an individual’s ability to carve out one’s own identity distinct from others, to stand apart from the rest of the world. Its major identity-defining question is: “How are you different from others?” Few things demonstrate this obsession with distinctiveness than the patent absurdity of many of the Guinness Book Records. Records like a couple kissing for forty-six hours or a person having nails six feet long may be distinctive, but are they contributive to anything worthwhile?
The Bhagavad-gita states (15.7) that
- All of us are spiritual parts of the supreme spiritual whole, God, Krishna. Just as parts have value when they contribute to the whole, our individual human endeavors acquire value when we contribute to the holistic divine master plan by establishing a sweet harmony of love with Krishna through devotional service.
- When we seek happiness separate from the whole, we come under the foolish fantasies and the draconian dictates of the mind and the senses, thereby sentencing ourselves to a dire and doomed struggle for happiness separate from Krishna.
Material ambitiousness that glamorizes striving apart from Krishna neither satisfies our heart’s longing for love, nor makes any constructive contribution to the world. That’s why Gita wisdom urges us to redefine ambitiousness as striving to be a part of Krishna, as playing lovingly our role in the divine orchestra. That will not only satisfy our own longing for love, but will also empower us to tangibly and constructively contribute to the world.