“He who hates none, who is the friend of all, who is merciful to all, who has nothing of his own, who is free from egoism, who is even-minded in pain and pleasure, who is forbearing, who is always satisfied, who works always in Yoga, whose self has become controlled, whose will is firm, whose mind and intellect are given up unto Me, such a one is My beloved Bhakta.
From whom comes no disturbance, who cannot be disturbed by others, who is free from joy, anger, fear, and anxiety, such a one is My beloved. He who does not depend on anything, who is pure and active, who does not care whether good comes or evil, and never becomes miserable, who has given up all efforts for himself ; who is the same in praise or in blame, with a silent, thoughtful mind, blessed with what little comes in his way, homeless, for the whole world is his home, and who is steady in his ideas, such a one is My beloved Bhakta.”
– Swami Vivekananda on Krishna’s teachings
The following is a beautiful story about the nature of devotion and Bhakti that one must give in their practice. Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita, extols the importance of following the path of devotion in the Kali Yuga as the most direct way to reach your own Divine potential. As a Bhakti, one must offer all the fruits gained from the external world and practice to that inner light, and learn to trustfully surrender, expecting nothing in return…only then does the flame within ignite.
There was a great god-sage called Narada. Just as there are sages among mankind, great Yogis, so there are great Yogis among the gods. Narada was a good Yogi, and very great. He travelled everywhere. One day he was passing through a forest, and saw a man who had been meditating until the white ants had built a huge mound round his body – so long had he been sitting in that position.
He said to Narada, “Where are you going?” Narada replied, “I am going to heaven.” “Then ask God when He will be merciful to me; when I shall attain freedom?.” Further on Narada saw another man. He was jumping about, singing, dancing, and said, “Oh, Narada, where are you going?” His voice and his gestures were wild. Narada said, “I am going to heaven.” “Then ask God when I shall be free.” Narada went on.
In the course of time he came again by the same road, and there was the man who had been meditating with the ant-hill round him. He said, “Oh, Narada, did you ask the Lord about me?” “Oh, yes.” “What did He say?” “The Lord told me that you would attain freedom in four more births.” Then the man, enraged, began to weep and wail, and said, “I have meditated until an ant-hill has grown around me, and I have four more births yet!”
Narada went to the other man. “Did you ask my question ?” “Oh, yes. Do you see this tamarind tree? I have to tell you that as many leaves as there are on that tree, so many times, you shall be born, and then you shall attain freedom.” The man began to dance for joy, and said, “Oh thank you Lord! Thank you that it isn’t all the leaves of all the trees in the world! I shall have freedom after such a short time!” A voice came, “My child, you will have freedom this minute.” That was the reward for his perseverance. He was ready to work through all those births, nothing discouraged him. But the first man felt that even four more births were too long. Only perseverance and patience, like that of the man who was willing to wait aeons brings about the highest result.