Should a devotee profession try to become a CEO to demonstrate how devotees can be materially successful too?
Transcriber: Bhakta Sharan
Question: Should a devotee profession try to become a CEO to demonstrate how devotees can be materially successful too?
Answer: All of us have certain capacities of stretching ourselves in carrying out various tasks. If we are in a zone below that capacity, it is called comfort zone (the name maybe comfort zone but staying there for too long makes us uncomfortable). Above the comfort zone is stretch zone and beyond it is the panic zone. Lifting a weight is either within our capacity or way above our capacity. Stretch zone varies from person to person. Ideally, it would be great that devotees have the best profession, or they are the best in their profession. However, we should remember that not every student in the class can be first.
Devotional sincerity is good but in the material world the translation of devotional intention into successful action also requires material competence. Different people will have different competence. For example, there might be a student who comes first in his class and also practices high standards of sadhana in devotional life. Other devotee students would surely want to emulate him. If the students out of peer pressure desire to be first in the class but neglect the fact that they take 14-15 hours to study compared to the topper who takes only 5-6 hours, then this might not be the best way that they can contribute.
We have to find out for ourselves what level of success or what level of progressing towards success is sustainable and holistic for us. Striving to be the best in our field is good but striving to be connected with Krishna and pursuing our profession in the context of our connection with Krishna is even more important.
For someone, the pursuit of becoming the best may take them away from Krishna. For some, the pursuit to be devoted to Krishna may inspire and equip them to become the best and for others, the pursuit of becoming the best and the pursuit to be devoted to Krishna may go parallel. We can understand this with three scenarios as follows:
A. In a class, there might be students who are average or above average and the pursuit to be the topper may take them away from Krishna (I have to study so much, I have no time for bhakti)
B. Some students may have a lot of potential but are unable to cope up due to their own negativity. However, when they feel positive after practising bhakti, it inspires them to become the best.
C. And then, there are toppers who are also devotees and they may continue practising bhakti and remain on top.
All these three possibilities are there, and which possibility applies to us that we have to see.
To conclude, there are central and peripheral activities of devotion. More broadly, there are primary, secondary and tertiary activities of devotion. Primary activities are our direct devotional expressions and responsibilities, secondary activities of devotion could be our family responsibility, professional ambition etc. and tertiary activities are pursuing excellence in a particular field as a mode of devotional expression. Some people may spend lifetime trying to achieve excellence in kirtan (which is great) but if that is done at the expense of not following the prescribed sadhana (not chanting their daily rounds, not attending important programs in temple etc.) because now they do not have time then they are giving up the primary for the tertiary. How much effort will be required in the tertiary will vary from person to person depending on how much talent they have and what situation they are in.
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