Five Factors Not Related To My Decision For Bhakti

[Radha-Krishna]“The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.29)

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भोक्तारं यज्ञ-तपसां
सुहृदं सर्व-भूतानां
ज्ञात्वा मां शान्तिम् ऋच्छति

bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ
suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ
jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati

1. Fear of eternal punishment

“I sure do think about the afterlife. I am not silly enough to believe that this is the only opportunity we get. Especially considering the dangers within the womb, how so many children barely make it out alive, so much is out of our control. If one of the miseries of life should attack, with strong enough force, there is no chance at survival.

“Does that mean we are finished? We have no chance at redemption? What about the people who are suffering a hellish existence right now? They are eligible for salvation, according to your plea. It is only at the time of death that they lose the chance?

“Your threats make no sense to me. We are already being punished. What can be worse than taking birth, forming attachments, and then eventually leaving everything behind? That is torture of a diabolical variety. It is like we are pawns in this sick game.”

2. Clearing addiction to drugs and alcohol

“I did not find the Lord after hitting rock bottom. Good for you. I am not against hearing your testimony, but I never fell on hard times. I was never so lacking in control that chemicals took over. I was scared straight during childhood, I guess. I always associated those substances with negative outcomes.”

3. Dogmatic insistence

“I get it that you think I am going to hell unless I surrender to your religion of choice. You insist that I follow this savior and read that book, but I tend to approach controversial issues in a rational manner. I like to hear both sides out.

“I trust myself to make the right decision, as long as it is an informed one. If one side is blocking access to information from the other side, that behavior certainly plays a role in my decision. I weigh the pros and the cons. I will not follow blindly.”

4. Hating other people

“I get it that you group people into believers and sinners. The good guys and the bad guys. The people you are allowed to talk to and the ones you should avoid. It sure makes life easier when you think everyone else is screwed up, that you are better than them, that they are destined for a terrible fate.

“I am not into those sorts of distinctions. I think people are generally good. They may fall into bad association. They may get caught up in false ego, in the illusory pursuit of everlasting wealth, influence, and fame. I don’t hate people for succumbing to temptation. I have compassion for them; for everyone, in fact.”

5. Fear of the Almighty

“I guess this is a good reason for following pious behavior. Walking the path of righteousness. Fear of punishment for straying, for deviating from the principles. I guess it is better to be afraid than to think there is no Supreme Controller.

“At the same time, why would I be afraid? I already suffer enough. What can be worse than death? It is like this force just waiting to strike. We are all caught under the wheels of time rolling forward. There is no protection against this onslaught.

“If I am to follow religion, I will do it on friendly terms. I would think that God is the nicest person in the world. Just consider how valuable a single individual is. Consider the mother in the home. She is like the cook, the cleaning person, the teacher, the driver, and the best friend combined into a single person. How can you place an appropriate value on that?

[prayer]“If there is a God, He must be the kindest of all. He must be all things to all people. He must be available simultaneously, in the way that the sun distributes its heat and light across the globe. He must be predictable in the manner of the elements of nature, and how everything comes together for the basic continuation of life.”

A person following bhakti-yoga does not require any of the above justifications. A person can come from any situation of being and develop an attachment to the lotus feet of the all-attractive one. He is the greatest well-wishing friend, after all. It is to Him that all activities should be dedicated. He is the dominating force, above even the formidable nature, under whose rules we must adjust our daily life.

चतुर्-विधा भजन्ते मां
जनाः सुकृतिनो ऽर्जुन
आर्तो जिज्ञासुर् अर्थार्थी
ज्ञानी च भरतर्षभ

catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ
janāḥ sukṛtino ‘rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī
jñānī ca bharatarṣabha

“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me – the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)

Shri Krishna lists four general categories of people who approach Him. This is in the initial meeting, in seeking out His assistance. A person does not need to be pure in thought, word, and deed. They do not require any pre-qualifications, and the approach is all-auspicious.

[Radha-Krishna]That is to say, whether someone is full of desire, free of desires, or wants only liberation, they can benefit from the interaction with Krishna. He is the same God for everyone, in the manner that the same sun allows for the continuation of life. Devotional life, bhakti-yoga, is dedicated to Krishna because of His amazing qualities, of which we continue to learn through further dedication to the practice.

In Closing:

Of amazing qualities in store,
Learning more and more.

Bhakti practice through,
Krishna dedicated to.

Not requiring fear dreaded,
Or threats to worst place headed.

In appreciating nature the same,
Towards His lotus feet came.

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