The key is to engage head, heart, and hands in the devotional service of the Lord.


Developing single-pointed focus is the key to success in any field, including spiritual life. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (2.41):


vyavasayatmika buddhir
ekeha kuru-nandana
bahu-shakha hy anantash cha
buddhayo ’vyavasayinam


“Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched.” To be focused in devotional service we need to find out what will impede our focus. Lord Sri Krishna mentions two main obstacles:


vyavasayatmika buddhih


“In the minds of those who are too attached to sense enjoyment and material opulence, and who are bewildered by such things, the resolute determination for devotional service to the Supreme Lord does not take place.” (Gita 2.44) The two primary obstacles delineated by Lord Krishna in this verse are bhoga (material enjoyment) and aishvarya (opulence). When we consider ourselves to be our material body, we naturally give prominence to material enjoyment (bhoga). This deeply rooted material “I” consciousness leads to “mine” consciousness (opulence): “These things belongs to me.” Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.25.16) tells us that these two – aham (“I”) and mama (“mine”) – are the roots of all other unwanted things (anarthas) in the heart.


aham mamabhimanotthaih
kama-lobhadibhir malaih
vitam yada manah shuddham
aduhkham asukham samam


“When one is completely cleansed of the impurities of lust and greed produced from the false identification of the body as ‘I’ and bodily possessions as ‘mine,’ one’s mind becomes purified. In that pure state he transcends the stage of so-called material happiness and distress.”

If we can somehow get rid of these two primary anarthas, then according to Bhagavad-gita (2.44) we can develop single-pointed focus, and Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.25.16) tells us the benefit we will obtain: we will be purified and able to transcend material so-called happiness and distress.

Let us see how devotional service helps us get rid of these two anarthas. When we start performing devotional service, the first ingredient is to hear about Lord Krishna, by which we come to know about two aspects of the Lord: His greatness and His sweetness. Srimad-Bhagavatam is full of information about these two attributes of the Lord. When we hear about the Lord’s greatness, we not only come to know how God is great but also how insignificant we are in front of Him. Here our material “I” consciousness (aham) transforms into the spiritual consciousness “I am God’s servant.” Thus our first obstacle in developing focus is removed.

When we hear about the sweetness of the Lord – His sweet reciprocation with His devotees and how great devotees consider the Lord their property – that generates a feeling in our heart that “the Lord in mine.” Here our “mine” consciousness (mama) transforms into the spiritual consciousness “the Lord is mine.”

In understanding the greatness of the Lord, we need our head, and in understanding the sweetness of the Lord, we need our heart. When our material “I” consciousness and “mine” consciousness transform into spiritual “I and mine” consciousness by the process of hearing, then we also use our hands – to serve the Lord. Thus by engaging this triplet of head, heart, and hands in devotional service, we develop single-pointed focus and march swiftly towards the supreme destination of life, Sri Krishna.