18.36: Are we waiting for a holy cloud to form around our heads?

by April 30, 2012

“Surely, but not now.” This is often our default response when saintly people urge us to make our relationship with Krishna a priority. We rationalize: “At present I don’t always feel happy while serving Krishna; people around me don’t appreciate what I am doing. Let me wait till things improve – internally and externally.”

We can call this expectation “waiting for a holy cloud to form around our heads.” All of us have probably seen pictures of smiling seers with a halo discoursing to respectful masses; their radiant smile reflects their inner treasure and their respectful audience reflects their outer influence.

Might we be procrastinating because we are expecting grace to bestow a similar inner treasure and outer influence in our spiritual life? If yes, then we are overlooking the fact that spiritual advancement is a matter of not just divine grace, but also human choice. The Bhagavad-gita (18.36) outlines the process of spiritual advancement succinctly: abhyasad ramate yatra duhkantam ca nigachhati by practice, we develop a taste for spiritual happiness and thereby attain the end of sorrow. Let’s analyze this verse into three stages:

Stage 1 – Grace: Krishna gives us the opportunity to practice devotional service.

Stage 2 – Choice: We accept the opportunity gratefully and practice devotional service wholeheartedly.

Stage 3 – Grace: Krishna grants us a constant inner happiness and a conducive external environment to share that happiness with others.

If we expect stage 3 to precede stage 2, aren’t we shirking our responsibility in our relationship with Krishna? Is that love?



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