Devotional HInduism is divided into eight chapters. Chapters 1–3 introduce the reader to the beliefs and routine practices of Hindus that are employed with the intention of connecting to God. Chapters 4–6 focus on how surrender can be developed through two main paths: the yoga of selfless action, which fits the career-conscious, and the yoga involving selfless love, which fits the expressive. Chapters 7–8 provide a picture of what the destination looks like, what spiritual knowledge is about, and how our higher insight molds our interactions with society.
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© 2008 Mukul S. Goel
Karma (from Chapter 4)
“Karma does not include our actions and inactions alone, which can be noticed by the people around us; it includes the entire thinking processes we use to arrive at a conclusion of doing or not doing something. Imagine you have a kid at school who expects you to be there at a function, and your presence can make him or her feel better. In one instance, you do not show up but attend a friend’s cocktail party. The child feels lonely and weeps. In the second instance, you are engaged in a pre-committed activity at your place of employment. The outcome remains the same: The kid feels sad. Does the reason for your absence really matter? As far as karma is concerned, it does. In spite of a similar outcome, the mental processes of not caring and ignoring responsibility are very different from understanding the need to be there and not being able to attend. Different mental impressions may be recorded by the two modes of decision, defining your personality for future moments. While no difference can be seen to the external observer and your child, such tiny particulars may make a major difference in your karma where you are at the center of the universe, the universe expects something from you, and you have to make a choice based on how the universe appears to you.”
“Nature has a major role in our physical presence at a workplace at a particular moment. If I say that our parents were selected by Nature and we were born in a home because our impressions and karma were matched to our family, many of us would easily believe it because this is explicitly mentioned in the Gita (6: 42). What if I say that our workplace is also matched with our impressions, and our colleagues too are matched? I am not suggesting that every situation is predetermined, but we must understand that there is something in our inherent nature (instincts) that has made us opt for a particular workplace. If we are honest, we will prefer to work in an honest group. If we possess scientific aptitude, we will work with scientists. Similarly, we may have preferences of location, personal compatibility, and workplace benefits that influence our joining a company. Karma theory teaches us to see a bigger connection. Nature matches the environment with our instincts, which define our preferences, and places us accordingly.”
Bhakti (in Chapter 6)
“Bhakti Yoga, the path of love, does not originate from bhakti (true love), which is, in fact, the conclusion of Bhakti Yoga. Because true love exists only after all expectations from God, even that of love in reciprocation, are given up, the beginner in Bhakti Yoga starts from a much lower spiritual stage and grows towards perfection. One usually begins from simpler God remembrance techniques (discussed in Chapter 2) and with time, as a certain level of spiritual evolution is achieved, bhakti starts getting embedded in our mind. Bhakti, when intensified with more unselfish God remembrance, gives rise to more bhakti, perhaps of a more blissful quality. This is why devotees commonly call it “its own fruit.” The cycle of love continues and one day we find that love and bliss have replaced the karmic cycle.”
Bhakti Saints (from Chapter 8)
“On the path of becoming selfless lovers, instead of evaluating how God takes care of the jiva, the advanced devotee spends time thinking how he or she, a jiva, can take care of God. Tulasidasa’s legendary biography tells us that when he got a hunch that Rama was personally protecting his assets, which included nothing more than a few kitchen accessories, he disowned all his possessions. Probably, he wanted to set his Lord free from his promise of taking care of his devotees’ security and needs. The mahatmas do not desire anything from the Divine, be it protection, possessions, or promises. They raise their adoration to the stage where they can take care of God in their own way. Perfected love elevates them from living as a beneficiary to becoming a “guardian” for God. People who love God as their child display this feel more openly, for not much can be expected from a toddler. Saint Surdasa, who could not see with his bodily eyes, spent his entire lifetime envisioning Krishna as a child playing in his neighborhood and interacting with his parents and childhood friends. Bhakti makes saints competent enough to offer something more than the soul, which eternally belongs to God anyway. And the only other item they consider worthy of offering is—selfless love.”