9. Ask God for your Wants | Give God what He Wants
Janis Joplin famously sang, “Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz? My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends. Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends. So Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?” The world teaches us to approach God with a shopping list. A house by the sea, the latest HD screen TV, a multi-terabyte MP3…all about “Me, me, me.” Is a divine connection meant for something more than just instantaneous health, wealth and prosperity? Can we really find satisfaction and love in such transactional dealings with the Supreme Person? What is the correct mind-set to approach God with?
In Chapter Nine, Krishna reveals a simple and sublime truth that most people miss. Nestled in the centre of this epic dialogue, Krishna imparts the most confidential knowledge. Though it’s laudable to recognise God’s supremacy and petition Him for our needs and wants, there is an alternative approach that brings deeper connection. Krishna explains how less intelligent people ask God for what they want, while the wise focus on giving God what He wants. That is love.
We can easily misuse the word ‘love.’ We say, “I love,” but what we really mean is “I like.” There is a stark difference. Love is about giving, liking is about taking. Love is about serving, liking is about expecting. Love is about sacrifice, liking is about gratification. Once, a man was in a restaurant eating fish when a bystander walked over to him and asked, “Is that fish you’re eating?” “Yes” the man replied, “I love fish!” The bystander didn’t mince his words – “No, you actually love yourself, and therefore you take the fish out of water, kill it, boil it and eat it! You love yourself... you like fish!” A sobering thought. When a spiritual teacher was asked the difference between loving and liking, he pointed at a flower and said – “If you like it, you’ll go over to it, pick it, smell it and enjoy it. If you love it, you’ll take care to water and protect it.”
The process of offering something with love is divine and mystical. Even when we feel we are lacking in love, when we focus on giving, serving and sacrificing in relationships, we’ll find that love develops. When we give to someone, we’re actually investing a part of our heart in them. When you give a part of your heart to someone, how can you not love them? Now you are a part of them! This love is known as bhakti, and when we direct this love towards the Supreme Person it’s known as bhakti-yoga, the essence of the Bhagavad-Gita.
Bhakti-yoga is not a ritualistic religious transaction, but rather a loving offering meant to reawaken a pure and intense love which lies dormant within us. While the process may appear simplistic and even mechanical, when practiced with sincerity and purity it actually combines and synthesises all other disciplines of yoga. Engaging in these practical acts of devotion will arouse the deep loving sentiment within each one of us, and direct it towards the Supreme Person who can most perfectly reciprocate with it. (Please see the article in the appendix which details the spiritual practices recommended as part of bhakti-yoga)
In this world people ‘love’ someone because they need them. That falls short of satisfying the heart. When we get to the point where we ‘need’ someone because we love them, then we’ll experience what pure devotion is. Love is its own reward.
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” (Bhagavad-Gita 9.26)
9.24 – Seeking material benefit is unintelligent, but it can still bring spiritual elevation.
9.26 – Krishna is attracted by our love and devotion.