This past Sunday, Siddheshvari Devi Ji spoke beautifully at Radha Madhav Dham, on a clear, sunny Texas day, with the sun in the sky and lights in the hearts of the devotees. The topic of her lecture was on how “householders” can be as devotional as any sanyasi. Didi Ji’s style of speech is very well-practiced, providing enriching spiritual context alongside entertaining and topical subjects. I’m happy to hear that she’ll be staying at the mandir for another few weeks, too.
Her lesson, though, reminded me of another misconception that is very popular about devotion, and one not exclusive to non-Hindus. In every faith, it is stressed that God and religion come before everything else, without exception, without compromise. If we aren’t thinking of Bhagwan at any given moment, we’re wasting valuable time. Whatever devotional wealth we may have accrued over the course of our soul’s existence can be squandered on a whim. Nothing is scarier than being made aware of how exactly little time one has to try and find God in their lifetime.
At the same time, though, we all have obligations. The scheduling of family reunions can run into dates set aside for prayer intensives or lecture series, and cause a great deal of tension. Productivity in the office can drop dramatically when employees are more focused on beloved God than filing papers. To put it roughly, the more time we spend on devotional or spiritual activities, the less we spend in the world.
Whether or not this is a good or a bad thing is purely a matter of perspective. From our fallen, worldly state, it feels like we aren’t getting anything done. The bills need paying, the pipes need fixing, there are obligations and demands coming from all angles. We don’t have time to sit in prayer and think about God for more than a half-second. But what Didi Ji’s speech reminded me of is that there is another perspective that sees the time we spend searching for God in a wholly positive light. In our hearts and souls, Bhagwan sits, accounting our deeds and watching where we go in our lives. Our devotional actions are the ones that matter the most to Him, and in the end, they have to be the only ones that matter to us, too, if we’re sincere in our hopes of finding Him.