What is Devotion?
Prince Arjuna loves his individuality – body, mind, intellect and ego. He loves his family also. Bhagavan Krishna is guiding him to love the Self/the Atman/Spirit because the Self is in All. The second portion of Gita focuses on Tat- Bhagavan Krishna.
Review- Focus of:
Chapter 7: Internalize. This is a subjective science. Go inward
Chapter 8: Concentrate. As we internalize who we are, concentrate. Don’t give up
Chapter 9: Offer. Offer what you are not. Offer up the body, mind, intellect and ego to the feet of Bhagavan Krishna
Chapter 10: Pervading. Bhagavan Krishna is pervading all. Offer yourself to the greatest of the great. Those who are egotistical hesitate because their ego is being dismantled but this is the pain we have to go through
Chapter 11: Presence. All that is present in the presence of Bhagavan Krishna. This is Vishvaroopa or The presence.
Chapter 12: Practice
Question 30 – What is Devotion?
Prince Arjuna’s Philosophical Question: (Chapter 12, Verse 1)
“Those devotees who, ever steadfast, thus worship you, and also those who worship the imperishable, the unmanifested – which of them are better versed in YOGA? ”
Many of Prince Arjuna’s questions are on pleasing Lord Krishna. As such, he is asking if it is better to worship the manifested form (Bhagavan) or the unmanifested form (Brahman). He is asking which icon we should practice being like. Once you introduce exclusivity, you take away infinity. If we say Brahman is not Bhagavan, we have dismantled Brahman.
Lord Krishna’s Philosophical Answer:
(Chapter 12, Verse 2) “Those, who, fixing their mind on Me, worship Me, ever steadfast and endowed with Supreme faith, these, in my opinion, are the best in YOGA.”
More important than what you are worshiping is HOW you are worshipping. It doesn’t matter if you worship Bhagavan or Brahman. How are we supposed to practice? Our mind should be fixed on Bhagavan like Devi Radha. Devi Radha is an icon of Ananya which means the one who only thinks about That. We practice this by focusing. A technique is not to expose ourselves to that which distracts us. In an integrated way, we should do upasana which means to rest near Bhagavan Krishna. We will then assimilate and feel Him. Those who have unwavering faith can fix their mind on Bhagavan. The way to have such faith is to understand that Bhagavan is our well-wisher. If we work hard and get what we want right away, Bhagavan is teaching us to be grateful. If we work hard and get what we want later, Bhagavan is teaching us to be faithful. If we work hard and do not get what we want, Bhagavan is teaching us to be peaceful. Those whose minds are fixed, resting and understanding of Bhagavan are the best!
Practical Question & Answer: What is Devotion? Invocation. Practical way to practice loving Bhagavan is Love Bhagavan and accordingly you will love Brahman
Reflection: How will you cultivate love for Bhagavan? Vivekji says when you observe those who love Bhagavan, you start feeling the same way. You can cultivate love for Bhagavan by being around bhaktas
Group reflection: What can you do to make the best use of your time each day? First is to have a higher purpose. Within this purpose we should have a plan, use a planner and have routines to manage the time. Being in the present moment helps us be centered and to focus on Bhagavan. We should also have the bhava of being grateful. Evaluation of how we spend our hours in a week and surplus of the hours will help us make the best use of our time. Vivekji reiterated that one of the significant drains of time is staying up late. The later we stay up, the less productive we become. If we have supreme faith that Bhagavan is our well-wisher, there is no need to live in the past or the future. We should enjoy the present.
Individual reflector: Devotion is intentional actions that bring us closer to the Divine. While the practice of devotion is many, ultimately the practices are intentional actions to consistently re-center us and surrender to Bhagavan.
1. Repeat and expound ‘What happens in the past happened for the best, what happens in the future happens for our best?
When we understand Bhagavan deeply as a well wisher, we will understand that everything in the past has happened for our best. The same carries on to the future and to not worry. We get to enjoy the present.
2. In everyday reflection, the mind is continually going into the future and causes anxiety. How to not drift into the future, focus on the present and accept everything as prasada buddhi?
- Engage in arpana buddhi which is the vision of dedication. If we are dedicated to our responsibilities, we will enjoy them. So whatever comes from them is not important. If you love what you do, the love itself is, as if, the reward.
- Use a planner to plan for the future. We need to schedule a time to drift to the future but then come back to the present
3. Do you live and let be?
Those who are attached live and don’t let others live. Those who are detached live and let live. The more incomplete we feel (avidya), the more we will project (viksepa). The more we project, the more we will be attached (raga). The more attached we are to anyone/anything, the more expectations we have and we are controlling them. We are really trying to control them for our own projection of happiness to make ourselves complete. For those of us who are truly practicing happiness by introspection, detection etc, we do not project. No one can make us happy or sad. We are not attached but accepting. Implementation:
(i) Bhagavan is the controller (2) We should guide but not be insistent
4. Pray to God in the morning and at night. How do we practice upasana throughout the day?
Upasana is to feel that the multiverse is the effect of the Cause. Bhagavan is the Cause and all this is the effect. If you look after the effect, you are really looking after the Cause. We have to get to the bhava/vision of serving the effect. Set reminders for ourselves eg, every hour for 3 mins chant Om. By slowing down and seeing nature you will remember Bhagavan. Anything that is important you will find ways to remember. Do not make excuses.