Principles of Bhakti Yoga

Yoga refers to any process of linking, or uniting, to the Divine.  Bhakti yoga, often calledthe “yoga of the heart”, refers to the process of uniting oneself with the Supreme through love and devotion.  In many traditions it is also considered the easiest and most effective way to ignite one’s forgotten relationship with the Divine.

In desiring to practice bhakti yoga, there are a few principles that one accepts to take action on this path.

 

 

1) The understanding that we are a soul, not a body.  In accepting that one’s true nature has an eternal, spiritual identity, one contrasts this with the temporary needs and activities of the body, and begins to put energy into the spiritual activities and needs of the soul.

2) The understanding that the Absolute Truth is ultimately personal–that we have a dynamic, interactive relationship with the Supreme Source, and that our actions, and our love and sincerity, affect this relationship.  Just as in any relationship, interaction with and knowledge of the other person combines with mutual giving and receiving to strengthen the love and ultimately, the oneness and connection of the two parties.

3) The understanding that everything that exists emanates from this Supreme Source–or God–,is controlled by him, is his energy, and belongs to him.  In this way the practitioner recognizes that nothing is his own, that everything must be offered back to the Supreme.  In devoting everything to the One who creates, maintains, and controls everything, the yogi reawakens the divine relationship, and in return–as lovers reciprocate–he becomes eternally and irrevocably connected to that unlimited spiritual field of knowledge, bliss, and eternity.

A Peaceful Spirit

“Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved.” – St.Seraphim of Sarov

Transcendental qualities, or “symptoms of steady ecstasy”–simply put, the Divine nature and how it is expressed in human life and behavior–are incredibly powerful.  They often stand contrary to conventional wisdom, such as Jesus’ instruction to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.

Yet we can witness the power of these qualities: a power not sourced in an individual’s own knowledge, skills, or resources, but stemming from the person’s closeness to God–the Supreme–the One who possesses all power, knowledge, and eternity, and most importantly, is not subject to the weaknesses, dangers, and fears that beset a soul alone.  In early Christian history thousands of devotees willingly sacrificed themselves for their faith in a steadfast example of love and dedication to the matters of the soul, to the point of disregard for any threat to the body.  The witness of this sacrifice, standing confidently on the supremacy of the person as a spiritual, rather than a worldly, entity, drew thousands to join the Christian movement.

A wonderful story is told:

An infamous tyrant of a general was heard to be coming with his army to a village.  Terrified, the inhabitants fled, knowing well the stories of his ruthlessness and cruelty.  When the general arrived with his soldiers, he found the village empty–except for one old man, sitting and meditating in one of the houses.  Sword drawn, the general came threateningly up to the old man.

“Don’t you know that I am the one who can run you through with this sword without batting an eye?” he thundered.

The old man said, “Yes, and I am the one who can be run through without batting an eye.”

Without a word, the general sheathed his sword, bowed, and left.