God determines the scope of our actions, not our actions themselves

Some people ask, “If God is the supreme controller, does his controllership mean that whatever we do, he is controlling us and compelling us to do that?”

No. God is the supreme controller, but not the sole controller. By his sweet will, he has given all of us free will. And based on our individual past karma, he gives each one of us a certain area of control (known in Sanskrit as kshetra). What we do within that allotted area is up to us. Of course, whatever we do has to be sanctioned by him, but it’s not impelled by him. For example, when someone becomes violently abusive, God doesn’t want them to act that way – they want to, and God allows them, within their area of control. And for their grievous misuse of free will, they will duly get proportionate karmic consequences.

To illustrate how our will rests within God’s will, the Bhagavad-gita (09.06) gives the example of wind moving within the sky. If we envision the sky as an upside-down bowl, then the sky determines and delimits the area of the movement of the air, not the direction of its movement – within the sky, the air can move up or down, left or right. Krishna’s will is like the sky, our will like the wind. He limits the scope of our actions, but within that scope, we control what we do.

Claiming that Krishna is doing what we are doing leads to several problematic questions. Why should we be held morally or legally accountable for our actions? Why should we learn ethics? Indeed, why should Krishna speak the Gita at all?

By understanding that we are responsible for our actions, we can become determined to seek guidance from Krishna through the Gita and thereby make healthy choices.

Read more https://www.gitadaily.com/god-determines-the-scope-of-our-actions-not-our-actions-themselves/

Devotion transforms backbenchers into toppers

In every classroom, some students are perpetual backbenchers – they don’t like to study; they attend classes just because they have to. Predictably, they fare poorly in their exams. But suppose some teaching method transformed backbenchers into toppers – wouldn’t that be amazing?

Bhakti-yoga is such a spiritually transformative process. Gita wisdom explains that the universe is like a university. At our core, we are souls who are on a multi-life course in spiritual education. To get elevated, we need to grow in wisdom and love – by understanding life’s spiritual purpose and by learning to love the all-attractive, Krishna, whose eternal parts we are.

Some spiritual circles consider the intellectual capacity for metaphysical analysis a key strength. But this capacity may be under-developed in people whose strength is in areas such as business, artisanship or homemaking. Such metaphysically uninterested people are conventionally deemed backbenchers. Significantly however, bhakti-yoga is so inclusive and potent that it can elevate even the backbenchers – and elevate them not just a few steps, but all the way to the supreme destination (Bhagavad-gita 09.32).

How does bhakti elevate so dramatically? By spiritualizing a power we all have: our innate longing to love and be loved. Presently, this longing is misdirected by our conditionings toward various material objects. Metaphysical contemplation helps us understand that something beyond matter exists. But it is bhakti-yoga that actually redirects our longing towards the supreme non-material reality, Krishna. And once that longing is spiritualized, it propels us towards him, rendering material attributes such as intellectual capacity inconsequential.

When we try to live spiritually, we may sometimes feel like backbenchers, being overwhelmed by our various conditionings. Nonetheless, however strong our conditionings may be, bhakti is stronger still. If we just persevere in our bhakti practice, it will connect our unconditioned cored with the unconstrained whole, enabling to eternal love for Krishna.

Read more https://www.gitadaily.com/devotion-transforms-backbenchers-into-toppers/

What we see depends on what we want to see

Suppose an alcoholic visits a new city. Though the city may have many attractive sights, the alcoholic will look for bars.

Similarly, when we function in the world, our desires direct our vision, consciously or subconsciously. For example, in our relationships, we see about others only the things we want to see. If we dislike someone, we highlight occasions when they behave rudely and overlook occasions when they behave politely.

Our desires can blind us not just to specific aspects of people’s personalities, but also to entire levels of reality such as spiritual reality. The Bhagavad-gita (15.11) indicates that we can’t perceive spiritual truths as long as we are materially desirous. Those desires direct, even drag, our consciousness towards materialistic things and don’t let spiritual stimuli register within us.

Since we all have material desires and we can’t give them up immediately, how, then, can we perceive spiritual reality? By striving to cultivate some spiritual desire. Such desire can come from knowledge, association and purification.

Knowledge: If we study the Gita and come to know its systematic delineation of spiritual reality – how we are at our core spirtual and indestructible and how the supreme spiritual reality is an all-attractive supreme person, Krishna – that knowledge kindles our desire to explore life’s spiritual side.

Association: Our desires are shaped substantially by our association. If we associate with seers who relish spiritual happiness and seekers who seriously aspire to grow spiritually, that association strengthens our spiritual desires.

Purification: When we strive to remember all-pure Krishna, our consciousness becomes purified and rises beyond matter. As we experience the serenity of our indestructible spiritual identity and the sweetness of Krishna, our spiritual desires become stronger still.

When spiritual desires drive our life, we perceive with increasing clarity and relish with increasing ecstasy our all-attractive Lord.

Read more https://www.gitadaily.com/what-we-see-depends-on-what-we-want-to-see/