Advanced Yoga Practices
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 This Discussion?"
The power of emotion is the power of the cosmos. Why? Because all emotion is the power of love, that which seeks to bind together all that exists. On this material plane, emotion may seem to be going in both directions drawing us together in union, and pulling us apart in fear. But both of these are expressions of the same divine energy seeking fulfillment. It is only a misperception that repels us in fear, derision and the many other negatives that we see manifesting in the world. Emotion is always in search of love, either here or somewhere else if need be.
But we can transform the dynamic of emotion in the field of opposites to a much more productive purpose, and that is what our ishta gives us the ability to do. The power of the cosmos is brought into greatly increased resonance by devotion to our chosen ideal.
Much the way a martial artist can use the energy of his opponent to bring about the desired result, so too can emotional energy of all kinds (positive and negative) be redirected to a higher purpose with the aid of our chosen ideal. Similarly, the many situations and relationships we encounter in our daily life can be used to transform our energies to a higher purpose, the purpose of our chosen ideal.
As we advance in our ability and habit to transform our emotions, great and small, to fulfill our chosen ideal, then we will find our devotion rising to a level of constant pouring. This pouring evolves over time to become automatic in all aspects of our life, with the end result being the constant outpouring of divine love.
This is what bhakti is, the constant pouring of desire toward our chosen ideal, which is ever-expanding the inner and outer dimensions of us. This is achieved by learning to transform all of our emotional energy for that. It does not mean ignoring our family and career. It means incorporating them, and everything in our life, into the process of transformation. In this way, our current activities and relationships rise to the level of divine interaction, and our devotion will soar with the consolidation of all emotional energy becoming divine desire.
As our ishta evolves, it will come to include our loved ones, which is very easy and natural because we are inclined this way with family and friends already. From there, our love will expand naturally to include others we encounter in our place of work, our community and the whole world.
The greater our devotion to others, the greater will the flow of divine energy through us become, further illuminating us and everyone around us.
Divine energy will be drawn to us no matter where we are. We will become a magnet to anyone who can aid in our inner flow, and they will be a magnet to us. By our own intention and acceptance, divine energy will flow. This is where the statement "Your faith has made you whole" comes from. It is the receiver of divine energy who determines the flow, not the source. Divine energy is everywhere, and can be easily found by one who is effectively transforming their emotional energy into pure bhakti. All the universe runs to support such a one.
Transforming Positive Emotional Energy
We all have positive emotional experiences occurring in our life. We have our loved ones, our friends, and the feelings gained from success we find in our endeavors in the world. All of these are opportunities for expanding our bhakti. Even the small feeling we gain from a tiny accomplishment (like emptying the trash) can be used to further our bhakti.
Before, we may have felt that feelings of love or accomplishment were a fulfillment in themselves, and we surely have sought to have more of them in our life. So we seek betterment in our relationships and in our work, so we can feel better more of the time. But there is a hidden layer in all this, where there is much larger energy, a much larger fulfillment.
For example, consider the love of a child. To hold a small child, to have that feeling of nurturing and caring is beyond description for most of us. It is divine by definition. Yet, it can be taken even deeper than that with the use of our chosen ideal. If we do that, the child becomes an expression of our ishta and our holding of the child becomes divine worship. It may well have been anyway, for this is the nature of parenthood. It is natural for the parent-child relationship to be divine.
But will it seem so divine when the child becomes a "terrible two-year old," pulling the knick-knacks off the shelves and refusing to cooperate with the parents requests? Or how about a full-blown adolescent in rebellion? Well, never mind the divine coddling then. But the love will not fade, even when it is expressing with firmness.
If we are on the path and have been cultivating our spiritual desire, our relationship will continue to be divine, expressing as needed through all the ups and downs of life, rooted in inner silence cultivated in daily deep meditation. This will have a profound effect on our own development, as well as on our children, who will instinctively know that something is operating beyond the diversions of the moment. Something positive, something that will outlast every mishap that may be encountered in life. It is a knowing that our children will carry with them all through life. Divine love is very practical in this way. Once it has touched us, it will never leave us.
While we can take every positive emotion and elevate it to divine status by incorporating it into our chosen ideal, so too can we do the same with emotions associated with the so-called negative experiences we encounter in life. The truth is, there is no such thing as a negative experience. It is only by our coloring of perceptions that positive and negative exist. It is we who identify what is positive and negative. We always have a choice. As we advance on the path of bhakti and with the powerful spiritual practices it will inspire, we will know that there is a reality beyond all the positives and negatives of life. It is a reality of abiding inner silence, ecstatic bliss, and outpouring divine love.
Both positive and negative emotions can be taken to the extreme in terms of bhakti, to the point of emotional frenzy, and beyond. This is a characteristic which has been documented in the lives of the saints and sages. The great ones have used both positive and negative emotions, every feeling they had, applied to the divine quest. Is such emotional desperation necessary to travel the path to enlightenment? It depends on the person.
Famous sages like Rumi, Ramakrishna, Buddha and Jesus had this in common. The more inspired and/or desperate they became, the more they expressed the divine within them. At times they may have been regarded to be mad for God or Truth. If we are to be mad for something let it be for that. Divine experience is a mixture of ecstatic joy, fear and tears, all for the singular unswerving purpose of fulfilling our chosen ideal.
Transforming Negative Emotional Energy
It may not always be obvious that we have a choice in how our emotions are directed and focused. So often we are caught up in the events of the moment and our emotional energy becomes focused in nonproductive ways due to knee-jerk reactions. But these can be changed through the methods of bhakti.
For example, let's suppose we are stuck in a traffic jam, and are late for an appointment. The longer we are stuck, the more our emotions may tend to rise about our increasing lateness. The knee-jerk reaction in this case may be to lean on the horn and curse out the window at someone who has cut us off to gain a car-length or two in the huge mass of traffic creeping along the highway slower than a walk. On the other hand, if we have a chosen ideal for our spiritual evolution that is becoming strong in us, we will be able to take the emotional energy rising in us due to the traffic and lateness and transform it to cry for our spiritual evolution. Instead of honking and yelling at the driver who has cut us off, we complain to the divine about our slow progress toward enlightenment.
"Oh Lord, my journey to realization of Thee is going so slowly!"
Yes, complaining with heart-felt emotion to God (however we may conceive Him/Her/It) can be very productive, as long as we are willing to act to resolve what it is we are complaining about. Our frustration about being stuck and late in traffic can be easily redirected to be frustration for being stuck and late on our spiritual path. What is the benefit in this?
While honking our horn and yelling out the car window will do little to speed up the traffic jam, expressing intense emotion toward our chosen spiritual ideal can have a dramatic effect on our spiritual progress. The effects can be both tangible and intangible, as long as we are open to what may come. Bhakti is not about unloading our perceived troubles. It is about opening the divine doorway within us.
In the tangible sense, as we are lamenting our lateness in the traffic jam, that is, our spiritual lateness, the redirected emotional energy may go toward us resolving to put in extra effort to seek knowledge of spiritual practices that we may have been putting off for some time. Or to become more regular in our daily meditation and other sitting practices and not miss them as often as we did before.
In the intangible sense, we may have a revelation of new spiritual knowledge right then and there in the traffic jam. It may express itself as surrender and an opening to inner peace and love flowing from within. It can happen in the most adverse circumstances. It can happen because of adverse circumstances as we redirect our emotions toward our chosen ideal. In such times we may encounter the knowledge we need to take the next steps on our path in a mysterious way maybe we pull off the crowded highway in frustration, go into a cafe, and meet someone who provides exactly what we need to take the next step on our path. It happens often to people who are steadily building devotion in relation to their chosen ideal. More bhakti brings many small miracles into our life and some big ones too.
This is not to promote a superstitious approach to spiritual development. It is not to encourage the seeking of "signs" in everything that happens in our life. We don't have to be trying to "read the tea leaves" to find our salvation. If we attend to the necessary causes, the effects will be there.
If we are favoring the redirection of our emotional energy and the transformation of our everyday desires toward our chosen ideal, then what we need for our spiritual fulfillment will find us in one way or another. If we take care of devotion and are willing to act when the appropriate opportunities present themselves, then the knowledge and tools we need will find us.
Much of what we have been saying before now may seem to assume that everyone will be enthusiastic about their spiritual prospects, have a clear chosen ideal and be moving along in converting all their emotional energy at a good pace. Of course this is not going to be the case for everyone all the time. But we know that everyone has an emotional life, even if that is being expressed as an inclination to not be enthusiastic or excited about anything. Those who are conspicuously disinterested or running away from life will have their emotional energy invested in that disinterest and running away, and that energy can be transformed to serve an ideal, whatever that ideal may be. The ideal does not have to be flashy, or even obvious. It may be as modest as making the time to meditate twice daily, which is not a small thing at all. It surely will lead to openings, and the bhakti will expand along with it. The main thing is to understand that every feeling we have can be applied in a direction that we choose. The energy we may be expending to run away in fear or guilt is of equal value in bhakti as the energy we may be expending for seeking the divine. Whether our negative or positive emotions are invisible or very intense and expressed outwardly, we can use them all for a chosen higher purpose our enlightenment.
Consider the possibility of your infinite nature, and embrace it with feeling. You will not regret it.
The guru is in you.
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