As developing internal conviction takes time, isn’t it better to be stimulated in our devotion by external inspiration?
From Satyam P
Question based on this Gita-daily article: Why do our resolutions crash between takeoff and landing?
When you say that we have to be convinced, prji dont you think it is a long process which might take a long time to happen and our flight might not even start to take-off if we are waiting for the day our convictions will get internalized. On the contrary the external stimuli viz. talks, anecdotes, etc. do offer a hasty flight but at least we begin. So prji what should be a right balance of externalization and internalization
Transcription by– VandanaGoel and Keshav Gopal Das
Question-As internalizing our convictions takes a long time isn’t it better that we get external stimulations and motivations by hearing classes, anecdotes and pastimes that inspires us to continue our bhakti? This question is based on Gita Daily article- why do our resolutions crash between take off and landing. In that article it was mentioned that we need to internalize our convictions. The question is that –because internalization takes time shouldn’t we also take external stimulations and motivations?
Answer– Yes, definitely! It is never that we can say that we have transcended the need for external stimulations and motivations in our devotional service. We always need association of devotees. We always need the inspiration that we get from the example and the words of others. That is never denied. But the point is that external association is not going to be there with us always. When that external association is not there it shouldn’t happen that our bhakti breaks down completely. Even at that time also we should be able to go on. And the way to go on at that time is by internalizing our convictions.
Bhakti Siddhanta Thakur would give the example that once a disciple was very sick and no treatment was working, so Bhakti Siddhanta Thakur said, ‘feed him ghee’. So they asked,he cannot digest any food, so how can he take ghee? He will vomit everything out. No problem, even if he vomits out something he will be taking and that’s what will give this person strength and person will come back to health.And that was actually what happened.
So essentially most of our motivations will come from external sources- we hear some class, we read books and we associate with devotees, go for yatras, come to temple for festivals and darshanas, attend programs and that’s how we get stimulations. But along with that it should also happen over a period of time that even when we are not in those external spiritual environments, then also we are able to go on with our spiritual lives.
Of course when we are alone initially sinewaves may be of huge magnitude that our consciousness goes down and it drenches when we are not in the external atmosphere but over a period of time the downward amplitude of those sine waves may also decrease and will become steadier, so for our bhakti we will always need inspiration and motivations from other devotees and externals but what we do when these externals are not present is also important in order for our bhakti to be steadily sustainable. That’s why if we can live in association of devotees itself, if our family members are devotees or if we live in a community of devotees, we are constantly seeing and associating with the devotees, that is very good for us because we keep getting some reminders of our devotional life; of our devotional purpose of life. When we talk about internalization it is more of an inner taking of responsibility of our spiritual advancement.
For example, a student decides to purse a particular career, suppose he wants to become an engineer.Now the parents may put some pressure, the pressure may not be physical but may be emotional like they may say this is the life for you and this is the perfection of our dreams, other also has become engineer so you should also become an engineer and then socially also it is glamorized so all these are external things which may push things a little bit but eventually we have to take responsibility. If the student is going to drag the feet throughout the engineering career then the person may never become an engineer or will not become a good quality engineer at all.
At some particular time all those external things have to internalize. “I want to become an engineer” so similarly “I want to become a devotee”. That commitment has to come up and this commitment internally comes up. Yes, I want to become a devotee then we will be able to go on and then when we come in association of devotees it is the same spiritual stimuli that will always inspire us and will inspire us more. Prabhupadagivesthis example of combination of self-motivation and external stimulation. He says that if a person is riding a vehicle say a car and the car is not moving others may come and give pushes but for how long will others push if the person inside has switched off the ignition and is pressing the brake hard so the car doesn’t move. How long will the people keep pushing? Not very long and ultimately they will stop. The person also has to endeavor from inside. The person also must have desire to move and the others also push the car. Then the car will move. Like that both the external stimulation and internal conviction also has to be there.
If inner conviction is not there then we will not be able to sustain and eventually the external stimulation will also stop coming and stop motivating us if we are internally very resistive. I am not talking about giving up or rejecting external stimulation, I am talking about accepting responsibility for our spiritual life and our spiritual advancement. I want to go back to Krishna. It’s my life and it’s my choice and I will tread this path. So when we take up ownership of our spiritual life,take our responsibility of our spiritual life then there is far greater possibility of our resolutions succeeding and we making steady spiritual progress towardsKrishna.