When facing serious problems, should we first focus on solving problems and then practice bhakti?
Transcriber: Bhakta Sharan
Question: When facing serious problems, should we first focus on solving problems and then practice bhakti?
Answer: Each problem is different. To have a heavy workload is one kind of problem and going through a major health crisis is another. Similarly, having a traumatic relationship conflict is a problem of its own kind. Each of these problems pose different obstacles on our bhakti path.
If we have a sore throat or our leg is fractured and the doctor has advised us to not exert pressure, and still we continue to sing loudly in kirtan or climb a mountain to go to a temple, then such action is foolhardy. We might have to stop a particular devotional service until our physical capacity is restored. We have to follow all the prescribed exercises and medications till we are physically fit.
In case of excessive workload where we have to meet deadlines, postponing our devotional engagements for some time is understandable. Simultaneously we need to check whether working more hours really translates in progressing towards meeting our deadline. Sometimes more hours at work does not necessarily mean more productivity at work. Being alert and taking breaks could actually help us to be more productive. What one does in those breaks could vary from person to person.
Doing activities like hearing kirtan, studying philosophy, listening devotional lectures etc. could actually help sharpen our mental faculty and reduce stress which helps in boosting productivity. One should not think that because I am so busy therefore, I cannot do my devotional activities. Rather, one should be open towards the perspective that my devotional activities could in fact help me do my work better.
In a relationship conflict, emotional pain experienced is much more than the physical pain. Amidst such trauma, one can think that after this gets over, I will practice bhakti. It is understandable that in such situation one should stay focused and purposeful without which it will be very difficult to remain in an emotionally well-balanced situation.
Problem solving is not like weight lifting where the more pressure we exert the more weights we can lift. Problem solving is like applying the right kind of voltage for the right device. If a device receives less power than what it needs, then it cannot function properly. However, at the same time if the device gets more power than what it needs, that will also be a problem. Similarly, we need to find out what amount of thinking help us solve the problem and what amount of thinking starts affecting us negatively. Unless we recognize this dynamic difference, we will continue to think about the problem understanding that the more we think about the problem, the more we will be able to deal with it. At one level this may be true because we need to think to solve the problem. However, we need to understand that thinking endlessly about the problem will also not help. Our thoughts need to be sharp and alert so that our thinking is effective to find constructive paths for dealing with the problem. That is why for emotional problems, it is vital that we create the necessary distance and detachment by directing our thoughts elsewhere so that we can get positive energy to help us deal with the negative energy.
This can be done by thinking about Krishna and practicing bhakti activities. Not ritualistically, but in a way that we can absorb ourselves in it. Doing that activity could help us in a significant way in moving towards Krishna and growing internally by calling out to him in a mood of dependence. Consequently, getting the required clarity that could help us solve the problem more effectively.
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