12.08-10 – Locating ourselves on the Gita’s ladder of love
Love is our heart’s innermost longing. Gita wisdom helps us understand that the deepest and most fulfilling love is love for Krishna, who is our eternal and most intimate lord. Though love for Krishna may sometimes seem a distant, abstract concept to us, Gita wisdom offers us a systematic pathway by which we can slowly but surely attain that level. The Bhagavad-gita (12.8-10) outlines a ladder of love that extends down from the highest level:
1. Offer the mind and intelligence to Krishna entirely and thereby live in him (12.8)
2. Practice the rules of sadhana-bhakti and try to fix the mind on Krishna (12.9)
3. Work for Krishna (12.10)
Includes two implicit sub-levels:
3.1 – Direct: Do his work, render service to him
3.2 – Indirect: Offer him the fruits of our work
We may function at different levels at different times: when we do sadhana, we may be at level 2; when we do seva, we may be at level 3.1; when we do our work with the intention of giving devotional charity, we may be at level 3.2. Although we may act at different levels, the level at which our consciousness normally resides is our present level.
The higher the level of our practice, the closer we are to Krishna – and the faster we will go even closer to him by practicing at that level. Still, the Gita is emphatic that whichever the level at which we situate ourselves, we will eventually rise to attain the highest perfection.
Levels like these are expanded and elaborated in the Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu, a sixteenth century devotional classic. By understanding these progressive levels, we can bring a clear direction and a tangible ambition to our devotional practices, and thereby march steadily back to Krishna.