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.

Symptoms of the Divine Nature


“Therefore the sage is square-edged but does not scrape, Has corners but does not jab,
Extends himself but not at the expense of others,
Shines but does not dazzle.”  – Tao Te Ching, Book Two, LVIII

 

 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:22-25

 

 

Fearlessness; purification of one’s existence; cultivation of spiritual knowledge; charity; self-control; performance of sacrifice; study of the Vedas; austerity; simplicity; nonviolence; truthfulness; freedom from anger; renunciation; tranquillity; aversion to faultfinding;

compassion for all living entities; freedom from covetousness; gentleness; modesty; steady determination; vigor; forgiveness; fortitude; cleanliness; and freedom from envy and from the passion for honor—these transcendental qualities, O son of Bharata, belong to godly men endowed with divine nature.” – Bhagavad Gita 16.1-3

Life’s Lessons

‎”Imagine that every person in the world is enlightened but you. They are all your teachers, each doing just the right things to help you learn perfect patience, perfect wisdom, perfect compassion.” – Buddha

This universe, and the scope of power, intelligence, and love that went into its creation, can often strike us with wonder when we pause to think about it.  There is so much that is beautiful here, and the sometimes exquisite sweetness of our many wanderings in this human adventure is tempered only by our sense of loss, of suffering, of loneliness.

We are often soothed by remembering that there is a pattern to our trials.  There are lessons to be learned in all of them, and we have not been left without guides.  The Divine is, in so many ways, through so many realized souls and other faithful representatives such as the great scriptures and spiritual traditions of the world, reaching out to all of us.  Our interactions with others and with the obstacles we encounter teach us valuable truths about life and about ourselves.   With the right attitude, we can harvest innumerable riches of wisdom and experience from every circumstance we find ourselves in.  As our sincere seeking takes us even further, a symphony of Divine orchestration will lead us to the teacher or teachers that can usher our questing souls into a transformational journey, ultimately ending on the platform of eternal happiness.

 

The Vedic scriptures and the ācāryas, or saintly teachers, are compared to expert boatmen, and the facilities of the human body are compared to favorable breezes that help the boat ply smoothly to its desired destination.”  – Sri Isopanisad

 

Highest Spirituality

“The highest spirituality indeed moves in a free and wide air far above that lower stage of seeking which is governed by religious form and dogma; it does not easily bear their limitations and, even when it admits, it transcends them; it lives in an experience which to the formal religious mind is unintelligible. But man does not arrive immediately at that highest inner elevation and, if it were demanded from him at once, he would never arrive there. At first he needs lower supports and stages of ascent; he asks for some scaffolding of dogma, worship, image, sign, form, symbol, some indulgence and permission of mixed half-natural motive on which he can stand while he builds up in him the temple of the spirit. Only when the temple is completed, can the supports be removed, the scaffolding disappear.”

 

 

 

“They say, O my God, that I am mad because I see no fault in Thee; but if I am indeed mad with Thy love, I do not wish to recover my sanity.”

 

 

 

Aurobindo