How can we know if we are sincere?
Transcriber: Sharan Shetty
Edited by: Keshavgopal Das
Question: How can we know if we are sincere?
Answer: There are different levels of sincerity in our practice of bhakti. It does not necessarily be either zero or one.
In Gita 12.8-12, Lord Krishna explains a progression. First, he says, be spontaneously absorbed in me. If it is not possible then be conscientiously absorbed. If you cannot be conscientiously absorbed, then serve me. If you cannot serve me, then work and give the fruits to me. If you cannot do that, then work and give the fruits to some good cause.
Lord expectation is that we get out of our self-obsession and connect with him. Hence, he has given us various levels by which we can gradually reach him.
Rather than thinking whether we are sincere or not, we focus on what best we can do. It can be as simple as listing down three things which we can do better and offer a sincere prayer to Krishna asking for strength to help us achieve those things. Therefore, there is internal prayer and remembrance of Krishna and external action.
We can judge the purity of water with the help of a meter but there is no meter to judge the purity of our heart. Therefore, we should make sure that overall our actions are going in the right direction and when they go wrong, we do the needful to get them in the right direction.
It is difficult, at our level, to look at sincerity as a virtue that we can evaluate in our hearts. We can look at our actions and try to make those more sincere. If we act like that, then gradually sincerity will be cultivated.
Another thing we can do is observe our responses when non-devotional or anti-devotional emotions come within us (and they will come up inevitably). Do we welcome them, or do we try to avoid them? Krishna sees not just our feelings but also feelings about our feelings. For example, sometimes we just don’t feel like chanting, reading, or associate with devotees etc. These are just temporary moods. Mind is a machine of its own which works according to the modes of material nature. Sometimes such unfavourable feelings may come up, but Krishna sees how we deal with them when they come.
He sees if we are taking such occasions as an excuse to avoid our sadhana or are we trying to avoid such feelings and desiring to connect with Krishna. Such a positive attitude is also an indicator of our sincerity.
Just the presence of non-devotional feelings does not mean lack of sincerity. Similarly, just the presence of devotional feelings does not mean the presence of sincerity. Feelings will keep changing. Our overall attitude, purpose and action are the best ways to understand our sincerity.
End of transcription.