Newsletter: Meant to Make You All Work

This newsletter is meant to make you all work. Well, not quite work, but to do devotional service, bhakti. And that devotional service will entail a little reading and a lot of thinking. Are you already putting this newsletter away? I hope not! Let me proffer one of the key truths that I am trying to articulate in the book Sadhana-sara-dipika, which I mentioned earlier that I was writing, and which I will be finishing when I am in Mayapur. It goes like this: 

There is a basic principle of devotional service that “bhakti gives birth to bhakti” [SB 11.3.31]. In other words, bhakti is a transcendental potency of Krishna and it is only brought about by bhakti. However, sadhana-bhakti is defined as physical acts that bring about transcendental bhava-bhakti [Cc Madhya 22.105]. For example, take the act of cleansing a temple that we sing about daily during mangala-arati. How does the physical act of mopping the floor, a material activity, awaken bhava-bhakti? There are so many floors being mopped all over the world. The cleaners don’t become bhava-bhaktas. So then why does a practicing devotee’s material activity awaken bhava? 

Such a proposition appears to be contrary to the principle of bhakti giving birth to bhakti, as well as the general principle that material things cannot bring about spiritual things. Matter comes from spirit, not spirit from matter. Moreover, how is sadhana even bhakti when it is comprised of conditioned souls’ acts and thoughts? Something to think about! And when you read Sadhana-sara-dipika, you can see if what you conclude is what acaryas and scriptures support. 

Now, if you have gotten this far in this newsletter, what to speak of if you actually gave thought to this paradox, then you know a little of what I go through when I write. I thought that rather than tell you about what I do when I write and what it requires for me to research and express important devotional topics, I would instead draw you into the effort itself and share a challenge with you. That was the theme of this newsletter—a taste of what it’s like to write. This kind of thinking strengthens one’s intelligence, and it was what Srila Prabhupada wanted to be part of the effort of reading his books. It is also what I hope my readers do when they read my books, especially philosophical books like Suddha-bhakti-cintamani and the current book. As you can see, reading is as serious a work as writing. It’s bhakti.