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Lesson 112 -
Bhakti: Up Close and Personal (Audio)
Date: Mon Feb 9, 2004 10:17pm
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
Q: My question is about Bhakti?? It is described as Love for the Divine
which could be love for people, nature and all the manifestations. Sometimes
it is viewed as a certain practice, such as chanting, or sitting and singing
spiritual songs. Bhakti is so highly touted, I am wondering how to really
practice it. To Love "God" is abstract. You can love God's qualities, such
as unconditional love, Guidance, Light and therefore yearn to be in God's
presence and think about God, being preoccupied by God. This word "bhakti"
is just a word though, what is it?
A: A very good question. Love of God (bhakti) can be very abstract. Nebulous
even. There are so many external forms of bhakti, as many as there are
ishtas (chosen ideals) and attributes that we can imagine. Unlimited! In the
lessons we don't get into that very much. It is the province of the
religious traditions. For those who love to worship in their tradition, that
is very good. For those who are not inclined that way, it is not the end of
the world. Yoga can progress very well with or without formal modes of
worship. Yoga works either way.
The kind of bhakti we talk about in the lessons is the "up close and
personal" kind. It is a non-sectarian approach. Here, bhakti is about you,
your nervous system, your desires, your practices, and your experiences.
When we talk about bhakti as "love of God" here, what we mean is, what is
our highest desire? What is the highest ideal we aspire to for ourselves?
Maybe so far it is only a question we want to answer, like, "Is there more
than this?" If we ask that question in our heart with sincerity and give our
emotions to it, we will have some good bhakti going. Real bhakti is very
personal. It is about our innermost desire to become something more in our
life. It is about wanting to know the truth and using our emotions to move
toward it. It can be as simple as the bare wanting -- hungry with wanting to
know. This is bhakti. Or it can be very involved as a relationship with our
chosen ideal, our ishta. This is bhakti too. In whatever way it is
occurring, the process is the same -- the emotions are harnessed toward an
ideal, which moves energy through our nervous system, purifying and opening
When longing is strongly expressed deep in our heart, things happen. Answers
start coming. Practices come to us. Then we begin to open and want to go
higher. Then there will be more opening, more answers, more practices. Like
that. Bhakti is like magic as it spirals up. It corresponds with the opening
of our nervous system. We have called the nervous system the gateway to the
infinite. That goes both ways. We can see out into the infinite through our
nervous system as it becomes purified. And God can come in through our
nervous system. God comes in as bhakti in our heart. God, the guru, and
bhakti inside us are all the same thing. It is the infinite, responding to
our inner cry, coming in through the gateway of our nervous system.
You may wish to review the following previous lessons for further detail on
the approach we take to bhakti here:
The essential ingredient -- Desire
Bhakti: The science of devotion
The relationship of traumatic experiences and bhakti
The magic of bhakti
Bhakti, meditation and inner silence
The dynamics of bhakti are woven through many other lessons as well.
Spiritual desire comes up naturally as our nervous system opens, and our
practices are married to our expanding desire. It is a personal process for
each one of us, yet it is quite easy to recognize in its different stages.
Not abstract or nebulous at all.
Directed desire is the essential ingredient in all spiritual practices. Not
in the actual performance of the practices though. The procedure for each
practice we follow according to its particular form, whether it be
meditation, pranayama, bandhas, mudras, asanas, etc. It is the bhakti that
gets us to our meditation room. Then we easily favor the particular advanced
yoga practice we are doing. The practices are designed to open our nervous
system steadily each day, month and year. So we do them precisely according
to the procedures that have been discussed in the lessons. Then we have a
constantly purifying and opening nervous system, growing desire for truth
and enlightenment, and we are always hankering to go to the next level of
practices. And so it goes, up and up.
The guru is in you.
Related Lessons Topic Path
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Note: For detailed instructions on
employing desire and action on our spiritual path, see the
AYP Bhakti and Karma Yoga book,
and AYP Plus.
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