In every classroom, some students are perpetual backbenchers – they don’t like to study; they attend classes just because they have to. Predictably, they fare poorly in their exams. But suppose some teaching method transformed backbenchers into toppers – wouldn’t that be amazing?
Bhakti-yoga is such a spiritually transformative process. Gita wisdom explains that the universe is like a university. At our core, we are souls who are on a multi-life course in spiritual education. To get elevated, we need to grow in wisdom and love – by understanding life’s spiritual purpose and by learning to love the all-attractive, Krishna, whose eternal parts we are.
Some spiritual circles consider the intellectual capacity for metaphysical analysis a key strength. But this capacity may be under-developed in people whose strength is in areas such as business, artisanship or homemaking. Such metaphysically uninterested people are conventionally deemed backbenchers. Significantly however, bhakti-yoga is so inclusive and potent that it can elevate even the backbenchers – and elevate them not just a few steps, but all the way to the supreme destination (Bhagavad-gita 09.32).
How does bhakti elevate so dramatically? By spiritualizing a power we all have: our innate longing to love and be loved. Presently, this longing is misdirected by our conditionings toward various material objects. Metaphysical contemplation helps us understand that something beyond matter exists. But it is bhakti-yoga that actually redirects our longing towards the supreme non-material reality, Krishna. And once that longing is spiritualized, it propels us towards him, rendering material attributes such as intellectual capacity inconsequential.
When we try to live spiritually, we may sometimes feel like backbenchers, being overwhelmed by our various conditionings. Nonetheless, however strong our conditionings may be, bhakti is stronger still. If we just persevere in our bhakti practice, it will connect our unconditioned cored with the unconstrained whole, enabling to eternal love for Krishna.