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What is devotion? It is the steady flow of love towards God. When your love flows towards individuals or towards transient, worldly things it cannot be called devotion; it is really only a form of attachment. But when your love flows unceasingly towards God, the one unchanging principle behind this world of change, then your love becomes devotion.

Initially, you develop your devotion by turning towards God and approaching him. Then, you strengthen your love for God by cultivating the attitude that you are his devotee or his servant and you surrender yourself to his will. As your love for God deepens, you progress to the stage where you feel an intimate closeness to God and experience his presence continuously. Finally, you reach the consummation of your spiritual journey when you fully realize the truth, "I am God. God and I are one."

In practice, devotion takes two forms. First, there is the type of devotion which involves various devotional practices and rituals engaged in by devotees, such as the traditional practice of worshipping the Lord with ritual offerings, making pilgrimages to spiritual centers and attending spiritual functions, singing devotional songs and studying devotional literature, and so on. These are the ordinary types of devotion. In the Gita the Lord taught that these various practices can be considered to be of a lower type. But, when your worship expands into a total absorption in God, when your love for God enters into every activity of your daily life and you develop a flawless, sacred character, then you are expressing the higher devotion which very much pleases the Lord.

There is a clear distinction, therefore, between this devotion which is particularly dear to the Lord and the more ordinary type of devotion. The latter uses the things of the phenomenal world to worship the Lord, such as flowers, for example. Where have these articles come from? Have you been able to manufacture them? Have you created these flowers? No. They have all been created by the Lord. Where, then, is the sacrifice in offering to the Lord things which he himself has created? Such offerings will not get you very far on your spiritual path. But to offer to the Lord the sacred flowers of your heart, which are not related to the world, and to offer these in loving worship to the one who is seated in your heart, that is the highest form of devotion. That is the devotion you should aspire for.