“We are persons and Krishna is a person, and our relationship with Krishna He leaves open as a voluntary agreement. That voluntary attitude – Yes, Krishna, I shall gladly cooperate whatever you say – that ready willingness to obey is only possible if there is love. Forcing will not make me agree. But if there is love, oh, I shall gladly do it. That is Bhakti that is Krishna consciousness.”
– Srila Prabhupada (letter to Rupa Vilasa, Hyderabad, 18th November’ 1972)
To maintain a meaningful connection with a loved one, it is crucial to experience love in the relationship. Similarly, for those who practice Bhakti Yoga, it is essential to perceive the presence of God in their lives. This experience is necessary to continue one’s spiritual practices.
How can we feel God’s presence in our daily lives?
Six steps to connect with God:
Here are six steps that can help us connect with God on an emotional level.
These are three principles and three specific, actionable methods (a total of six steps) that can help us touch Krishna or God with our emotions; we’d then feel His presence to be a veritable reality.
The three principles:
The first three principles are Trust, Scriptures, and Listen.
These form the foundation on which the three actionable steps rest.
- Trust – Invest time and energy in spiritual practices and take up more responsibility.
- Scriptures – connect with an intelligence higher than our own mind-ego nexus
- Listen – practice present moment awareness and mindfulness
Step 1- TRUST – a life beyond knowledge and Belief
Many people believe that to experience God’s love, we need to know more about God. While knowledge is important, it is not the defining criterion to experience God. There are scholars who know about God but do not believe in what they read to be true.
From knowledge to belief:
During an academic convention, a PhD professor shared with one of our devotees the minute details about God found in our scriptures. When the devotee expressed surprise and asked how he knew the specifics of Lord Krishna, the professor revealed that he had studied Krishna for over two decades. However, the devotee felt a little uncomfortable when the scholar pulled out a cigarette and he already had a glass of wine in hand. Understanding the devotee’s predicament, the professor chuckled and said, “Oh, I see that you are remembering the four vices of Kali. I may be earning residence in a couple of hells for my present action.” He had no qualms about what he was doing; he even rattled off the names of a few planets where he would be thrown disdainfully by the agents of death, for breaking the universal laws. He even quoted verses from the Bhagavad Gita.
After the meeting, the devotee left with a realization that real knowledge is not simply knowing the information contained in the books. One needs to believe in and practice what one reads to experience God.
Many religious organizations exhort their members to ‘believe’ in God. They gather thousands for mass baptisms and fervently appeal to their loyalists to believe in their messiah or their interpretation of God. Often, it’s a pep talk that psyches people up, and the most common thing heard from evangelists and fanatics is the chant, “I believe in God.”
When I ask myself, “Do I truly believe in God?” the answer that resounds in my heart is a big “Yes.” However, I still feel inadequate. Am I willing to take bold steps to come closer to God? Am I prepared to invest time in Krishna consciousness and improve the quality of my spiritual practices?
Do I fundamentally trust God?
“My relationship with God is as strong as the time and energy I put into connecting with God.” – Macklemore
To be continued…