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 Bhakti and Karma Yoga
 Bhakti and Karma Yoga
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Posted - Jul 12 2005 :  11:03:34 AM  Show Profile  Visit yogani's Homepage  Get a Link to this Message
Note: As of May 18, 2009, the "Bhakti, Jnana and Karma Yogas" forum category has been split in two, to better accommodate the expansion of practitioner experiences and the AYP lessons. Happily, both are moving steadily deeper into non-duality/unity topics of discussion. As advanced experiences and our collective understanding of them continue to unfold, the forums are being adapted accordingly. The two forums are:

Jnana Yoga - Advaita Vedanta (Non-Duality):

Bhakti and Karma Yoga:

Here is the introduction from the original "Bhakti, Jnana and Karma Yogas" forum category. It is as relevant a starting point as ever:

Way back in the 1890s, a great sage named Vivekananda came from India to the West. He was the first from India who became widely known, and he paved the way for the many more sages and teachers who would follow throughout the 20th century.

Vivekananda spoke about the eight-limbed path of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. He called it "Raja Yoga." He also spoke about three additional paths of yoga: Jnana, Bhakti and Karma. These correspond to the yogic roles of mind, heart, and our actions. The first two limbs of Raja Yoga, the yamas and niyamas, actually include these, but Vivekananda separated them out, perhaps because they have to do more with our ongoing thoughts, feelings and conduct throughout the day, rather than with the sessions of yoga postures and sitting practices which make up the rest of the eight limbs.

Jnana has been called the path of the intellect, the path of discrimination. Discrimination of what? Of truth. And what is the truth? According to great sages like Ramana Maharishi, the truth is found in inquiry -- in the simple question, "Who am I?" If we ask this question in earnest, repeatedly, with an intense longing to know (a blending with bhakti), then truth will come up in us and around us. Jnana is not primarily about gathering intellectual information, or building big philosophical structures. True jnana is a process of thinking the mind beyond itself. The best job of the mind in yoga is to think itself out of a job! If we can decide to practice meditation and other yoga practices, and stick with a daily routine of practices over the long haul, the mind will be serving us well in yoga. And in all other areas of life too, because our thinking will come into harmony with our inner silence. A mind moving in silence is divine mind, the field of Oneness, or unity. See Lesson #185 at http://www.aypsite.org/185.html
The role of the witness (cultivated in deep meditation) in the rise of effective self-inquiry is discussed in detail in Lesson 321 and subsequent lessons, beginning at http://www.aypsite.org/321.html

Bhakti is called "the science of devotion" in AYP. It truly is a science, because it has known causes and effects which can be harnessed by diligent practitioners. If we know how to redirect our emotional energy toward our highest ideal, whether it be "God" or "Truth" or "Love," then huge invisible forces will be turned loose that bring knowledge to us in an avalanche. Such is the power of bhakti. See Lesson #67 at http://www.aypsite.org/67.html

Karma means action and its effects. Karma is what we do and how it affects us and others. The action side of karma yoga is found in gradually gravitating toward an attitude of serving others. No one can force this on us. It comes up naturally in us when we have been doing yoga practices -- meditation, pranayama and asanas. Then the karmas (effects) residing in our nervous system are illuminated from within and we cannot help but care more for those around us, in our own way. Then karma yoga really shines and is not an obligation or drudgery. Just the opposite. Service becomes pure joy! See Lesson #228 at http://www.aypsite.org/228.html

This forum is for discussing our practical experiences in applying our emotions, mind and daily actions to help us along the path of yoga. It can be as simple as saying "Yes!" to the voice inside that is calling us to do what is necessary to grow, and making the choices that will propel us forward.

Each of these three categories of yoga can stimulate many dimensions of discussion and spiritual progress:

Jnana Yoga -- The intellectual examination (and release) of the nature of existence.
Bhakti Yoga -- The role of desire in our daily spiritual practices, and the many devotional paths of worship.
Karma Yoga -- The natural rise of outpouring divine and service to others (who we see increasingly as out own Self) as our spiritual progress advances.

Feel free to indulge. Enjoy!

The guru is in you.
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