Marks of True Devotion (Part 5)

Devotional Mindset

Firmness of Conviction

A true devotee is firmly convinced that there is a divinity behind the world and it inheres in all living beings. He is not affected by arguments against the existence of God, because his affirmation is born of spiritual discipline, not of vain scholarship. He has no doubt that his prayers are certain to reach God, and so he practices spiritual disciplines with faith and perseverance. In the words of Sri Ramakrishna, "Sometimes it happens that discriminating between the Real and the unreal, a man loses his faith in the existence of God. But a devotee who sincerely yearns for God does not give up his meditation even though he is invaded by atheistic ideas. A man whose father and grandfather have been farmers continues his farming though he doesn't get any crop in a year of drought."

Detachment from the Household

Sri Ramakrishna taught his householder devotees to live in the world like a maidservant in a rich man's house. She performs all the household duties, but her thoughts are fixed on her own home in her native village. She brings up her master's children as if they were her own. But in her mind she knows very well that they do not belong to her at all. In the same way, one should serve one's spouse and children, looking upon them as God's children. Such an attitude fosters devotion to God and reduces attachment to one's family. In the words of Sri Ramakrishna, "You can lead an unattached life to a great extent if you have faith in God and love for Him."

Freedom from Joy and Anger

Freedom from joy and anger means freedom from our lower self and its constant involvement with sense objects and inevitable anger when its desires are not fulfilled. A devotee does not hanker after worldly joy, for his search is directed within, to God, the source of abiding joy. Sri Ramakrishna says: "If there are no desires, the mind naturally looks up toward God." The devotee is free from desire, anger and greed, the threefold gateway to hell. (Bhagavad Gita, 16.21) Sri Krishna considers him a yogi and a happy man who is able to with-stand even while alive the impulses arising from lust and anger. (Gita, 5.23) Sri Sridhara Svamin's gloss on this verse illustrates this teaching with a forceful example: "A dead man does not succumb to the impulses arising from lust and anger when weeping young maidens touch his body or when his son cremates it. If a man is able to withstand such impulses even while alive, he is a yogi, he is a happy man."

Part 6

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