12.09 – Strive more for the gift of presence than the presence of gifts
We express our love for others through gifts. In spiritual life too, we can express our devotion to Krishna through gifts – donations offered, contributions collected and books distributed, for example.
Krishna looks forward most to the gift of our presence. The Bhagavad-gita, while describing various levels of devotion, places the level of practicing to remember him (12.09) above the level of offering our work and its results to him (12.10).
Mantra meditation offers us the opportunity to offer our presence to Krishna, for he is non-different from his holy names. So the more attentive we are in our mantra meditation, the better is the quality of our gift of presence.
Of course, Krishna doesn’t need any gift from us. He is the Lord of the Goddess of Fortune; he already possesses everything, including whatever we may offer him. Yet being the Lord of love, he is ever eager for love. What pleases him is not our gifts, but the love we offer through those gifts.
From Krishna’s perspective, our presence is a purer expression of love than our other gifts. Because when we offer our service accomplishments to him, that offering is likely to be contaminated by the desire for glorification by others: “People should know how charitable I am.”
The offering of our presence through our attentiveness in meditation is less likely to be similarly contaminated because it’s not so visible in the eyes of the world. When he is pleased by our presence, he fills our heart with the enrichment of his love. This enrichment is far more fulfilling than any praise that our accomplishments may earn.
It is good to strive for offering gifts of any sort to Krishna. And it is best to strive most for offering him our presence.
12.09-10: My dear Arjuna, O winner of wealth, if you cannot fix your mind upon Me without deviation, then follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga. In this way develop a desire to attain Me. If you cannot practice the regulations of bhakti-yoga, then just try to work for Me, because by working for Me you will come to the perfect stage.