How can we know whether we are succeeding or failling in bhakti?
Transcribed by: Keshavgopal Das
Question: How can we know whether we are succeeding or failing in bhakti?
Answer: Broadly speaking the advancement in bhakti is gauged by two parameters – (i) attraction to Krishna (ii) detachment from material world.
Srimad Bhagavatam (11.2.42) says – bhaktih pareshanubhavo viraktir anyatra cha – bhakti is a process which delivers para-isha-anubhava. Para (transcendental), isha (controller), anubhava (experience) – i.e. experience of the Supreme Controller who is transcendental. The Lord cannot be experienced simply through physical senses. Devotion is required. Somebody may come to temple and look at the beautifully decorated deities and say – “O these are just nicely decorated dolls!” Without devotion, one cannot experience Krishna, but with devotion we will find Krishna “so attractive”. This experience of Krishna is so fulfilling, so enriching, that it results in viraktir anyatra cha i.e. detachment from other things. One loses attraction for other experiences.
There are certain times in our lives, when we are at an inflexion point. Inflexion point means we come at a turn in our lives, where we need to decide whether to go right or left. At such times, if we try to understand what our heart feel doing, we can get insight whether we are advancing spiritually or not. If our heart is turning towards Krishna, then that is certainly a sure shot sign of spiritual advancement.
Also, if our craving for worldly things is decreasing, that is also a sign of spiritual advancement. This does not mean that we are becoming irresponsible. It simply means that we are becoming less and less emotionally entangled with worldly things. We can be committed without being entangled. The difference between commitment and entanglement is the level of consciousness. Commitment means doing service to Krishna with full sincerity, entanglement means feeling absolutely ruined if something does not work out. If I am committed to the job, I will do my responsibilities well, however if I am entangled with the job, I will feel ruined in case the job is taken away from me.
Another parameter to know if we are growing spiritually is to check how do we face difficulties in our lives. If we are growing spiritually, then the difficulties will not be able to shake us that much. Difficulties come in life regularly and they trouble us also, but if we see that had such difficulty came to me few years ago then I would have been broken emotionally. However, now I am able to cope with it much better. I may have concerns, but I am not as emotionally distressed as I would be few years ago if something similar happened. If we have grown spiritually, then we will have developed some realizations which will develop some inner toughness. If we identify ourselves as spiritual then we will know that soul is indestructible, soul’s relation with Krishna is eternal, and that gives us internal security. If we identify ourselves with a material role, then when the role is destroyed we will devastated.
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