“The Blessed Lord said: Son of Pritha, a transcendentalist engaged in auspicious activities does not meet with destruction either in this world or in the spiritual world; one who does good, My friend, is never overcome by evil.” (Bhagavad-gita, 6.40)
Friend1: How are you at business?
Friend2: What kind of question is that?
Friend1: Do you know the principles to success?
Friend2: Have you read one of those books lately? Is that why you’re asking me? You’re ready to be a successful person and now you’re quizzing me to see if I am as informed as you.
Friend1: No, no. I have been tempted to read some of those books, like The Art Of The Deal, but I haven’t. I’ve heard some of these principles and I’m trying to see if they translate to spiritual life.
Friend2: Ah. So which principles in particular?
Friend1: One of them relates to expansion.
Friend1: Basically, if your business is not growing, you’re not succeeding. The business is in bad shape.
Friend2: Interesting. How is that, though? What if you have one store and the sales are steady? You are turning a sufficient profit every month. Doesn’t the very existence of profit invalidate the claim?
Friend1: Well, that’s why it’s a noteworthy principle. It’s almost counterintuitive.
Friend2: How does it work, then?
Friend1: Let’s say that you do have steady profits. The reason to grow is to safeguard against change. A competitor could open nearby. Suddenly, they are taking your profits. If you’re not expanding, it means that the interest is limited. Expansion is an indication that the business model works, that the product or service you’re selling is beneficial to other people.
Friend2: I see. Business is in the mode of passion, so what do I really know about it? It just seems like a difficult way to live. If you need constant expansion, it means that you’ll never be happy.
Friend1: Okay, don’t get ahead of me here. I’m getting to that. Do you think the same principle applies to bhakti-yoga?
Friend2: As in if your devotional service is not expanding, you’re not succeeding?
Friend2: Well, there are two ways to look at that. There is infinite room for growth. Though the Supreme Lord is atmarama, or self-satisfied, He never puts a cap on the number of devotees.
Friend1: Krishna doesn’t say, “No thanks. I already have enough servants in the spiritual world.”
Friend2: Exactly. The rasa-lila is a great example. Here Shrimati Radharani meets Krishna in the forest under the bright, full moon. She wishes to dance with Him, but there are other gopis there as well. Krishna then expands Himself into so many forms so that each gopi thinks she is dancing with Him alone.
Friend1: So He does that for all devotees?
Friend2: He is already expanded through the Supersoul, which rests within the heart. The Supersoul is one, though apparently divided. Anyway, there is always room for more bhakti. It is not that if I’m chanting the holy names today, tomorrow I can’t do more. I can always be more conscious of Krishna.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: Oh, and you’ll love this one. The more advanced a person becomes, the less worthy they feel.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: Like Radharani. She thinks she is the worst devotee. She thinks she has no love for Krishna.
Friend1: But we know that just the opposite is true.
Friend2: Exactly. Think about that one for a second. It shows how devotion can infinitely expand.
Friend1: Getting back to the business principle. If the bhakti practice is not expanding, does it mean that the person is vulnerable to failure?
Friend2: This is another area where we see the stark difference between material life and spiritual life. In bhakti the progress never gets erased. Even if a person slips up and falls back into illusion, they don’t lose the progress they have made in devotional service. The promise is there to get the chance to continue in the next life.
Friend1: That’s great.
Friend2: Yeah. You get birth in a cultured family of some kind, represented either through wealth or purity in consciousness. So I would say that the business of devotional service has the potential to expand unlimitedly, and at the same time staying where you are is not harmful. The Supreme Lord is so merciful in this way.
Rule in business that always to expand,
Lest new competitor to gain upper hand.
In bhakti room for growth always there,
In consciousness of God more aware.
Like with Radha as worst devotee feeling,
Though topmost, Krishna’s heart stealing.
Still, not harm even if in position set,
Chance to continue in next life to get.