How can we practice bhakti in today’s competitive world?
Transcribed by: Geetanjali Nath
Question: How can we practice devotional service competently in today’s competitive work environment?
Competition in and of itself is not bad. Everything in this world can be in one of the three modes – goodness, passion or ignorance. The modes influence ways of thinking and acting.
Competition in the mode of ignorance is destructive competition. Destructive competition is when I think of succeeding by pulling the other person down to a level lower than me. An example of destructive competition would be a sports match where instead of trying to play a better game, I try to make the opponents sick with food poisoning in the hope that they cannot play well, and I can win the match. In constructive competition, we see the presence of others as impetus for bringing out the best in us. Our motive when competing should not be to push down others. Rather we should do justice to the talents that god has given us to contribute in His service. An example of this kind of attitude is Arjuna. The time when Bhagavad-gita was spoken, Arjuna was known as a champion archer. Since he was gifted with a talent for archery, he developed and excelled in that talent so that he could serve Krishna.
When our competitive mentality is externally directed, we are always thinking whether we are better than the other person or not. Some people might be just better than us and then we may get an inferiority complex. The opposite is also true, if we are better than the other person then we get a superiority complex. Either way we complicate our lives. If our life is directed towards service of Krishna, then even our job is a part of service to Krishna. If we inculcate this attitude – that I am serving Krishna in the office as well – then we would naturally serve in the best way possible. Competition can then become a spur for us to bring out our best. More importantly, by focussing on the principle that I am going to offer my best to Krishna, we can avoid the insecurity that comes with competition.
If we focus on the fact that I have been given some gifts – let me try to be the best I can be in the service of god – then we only need do our best and god will take care of the rest. Our spiritual understanding helps us to realise that we just need to become the best we can be; we don’t have to become better than someone else. If god had wanted us to be someone else, he would have made someone else. He wants you to be the best you and wants me to be the best me.
By seeing all our activities as a service to god and wanting to offer him the best service, we can work hard and see competition as a spur to be our best selves. We should not define ourselves as better or worse than others. Instead we can define ourselves as the best that we can be in the service of god. What we are is god’s gift to us and what we become is our gift to god.
To summarize, by keeping a devotional attitude in everything we do, we can use competition as an impetus to bring out our best without being insecure if we are better than others or not.
End of transcription.