Enlighten Yourself: Bhakti Yoga – The Path of Faithful Devotion – Part 1/2

Written by Wes Annac, The Culture of Awareness

Faith and devotion might seem like purely religious concepts that are irrelevant to the spiritual movement we’re creating and empowering, but in the eyes of some seekers, they’re very important qualities that assist one with knowing themselves as the creator in a deeper and more intimate way.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being faithfully devoted to Source, and it’s one of many things that helps us feel closer with our creator than we would have if we didn’t offer our full love and devotion.

To have faith in the creator is to have faith in oneself, and we praise ourselves as the creators of our reality when we praise Source. The point of finding enlightenment is to know ourselves in a deeper way while subsequently reaching a higher, more unlimited state of consciousness, and it’ll be easy if we’re devoted to the task.

Here, I’d like to examine one of many unique spiritual paths. This path, known as Bhakti Yoga, leans on faithful, devoted praise as a means to find enlightenment, and my primary reason for discussing it is because I think faith can be and is an important part of reaching a higher state of consciousness.

I think we open our channels when we express our faith or praise Source, and there’s plenty of material out there about the path of Bhakti Yoga and its importance to the enlightenment process. First, we’ll learn a little bit about Bhakti Yoga from Wikipedia.

“Bhakti yoga is a spiritual path described in Hindu philosophy as efficacious for fostering love of, faith in, and surrender to God. It is a means to realize God, and is the easiest way for the common person because it doesn’t involve extensive yogic practices.

“The Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavata Purana and Puranas are important scriptures which expound the philosophy of Bhakti. Hindu movements in which bhakti is the main practice are called bhakti movements—the major schools are Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism.” (1)

Most paths to enlightenment involve surrendering to Source, but Bhakti Yoga is unique because it involves a greater, more expressed level of devoted faith than some other practices. A lot of other practices also preach faith in Source, but with Bhakti Yoga, faith is a front-and-center aspect of the quest for enlightenment.

Now, we’ll hear what some of the spiritual teachers from our past and present have to say about this path and the devotion it entails.

According to Mencius, “The ways are two: love and want of love. That is all.” (2)

When we’re in a lower or depleted state of consciousness, we hunger for love.

We strive to find it in whatever way we can, and usually, we seek it in material things that don’t help us gain any love or purity. We’re either immersed in blissful love or we’re depleted of it, and thankfully, we can boost our perception of our inner love and keep ourselves on a constant cloud.

Shankara tells us that devotion is the greatest route to liberation.

“Among all means of liberation, devotion is supreme. To seek earnestly to know one’s real nature – this is said to be devotion.” (3)

Most people think devotion entails constant hymns and prayers, but even though they can be a part of it, they don’t solely constitute it. Devotion is the result of our endless desire to gain a greater perception; to find a greater state of consciousness that’s less limited than our current.

The more we commit to raising our vibration, the more devotion we naturally show. We don’t have to go out of our way to express devotion, because our actions in every moment will speak to how devoted we truly are. If we work hard, using our light to help others, devotion will naturally emanate from us.

According to one ‘Julian from Norwich’, “Fidelity sees God and Wisdom keeps God close by and from these two come Love — a delight in God completely steeped in wonder.” (4)

An anonymous teacher tells us that Source can’t be perceived by thought alone.

“[God] may well be loved, but not thought. By love he can be caught and held, but by thinking never.” (5)

The logical mind is cut off from Source and can only relate to the reality around it, whereas the open heart is receptive to the influence of the divine. Thus, by living open-heartedly, we grow closer with Source than those who try to perceive reality through a mind-centered, factual lens.

The same anonymous teacher outlines two noteworthy human faculties.

“All rational beings, angels and men, possess two faculties, the power of knowing and the power of loving. To the first, to the intellect, God who made them is forever unknowable, but to the second, to love, he is completely knowable, and that by every separate individual.

“So much so that one loving soul by itself, through its love, may know for itself him who is incomparably more than sufficient to fill all souls that exist. This is the everlasting miracle of love. … To know it for oneself is endless bliss; its contrary is endless pain.” (6)

It’s easy to perceive Source as something we couldn’t possibly know or convene with because of our limited state of consciousness, but we have to keep in mind that everything is Source. Everything around us is composed of pure Source energy, and in time, we’ll see that we’ve never been separate from our creator.

We’ve never been cut off from the essence of our being – we’ve simply convinced ourselves we were. Now, we’re seeing through this illusion and welcoming a new way of life that orients to love and service over greed and divisiveness. The way is becoming clear now, but we’ve misled ourselves about Source’s true presence around us for centuries.

Richard Rolle supports the anonymous teacher’s words, saying “[God] is not known by argument, but by what we do and how we love.” (7)

How we act is far more important than the things we believe, and we can believe everything under the sun but still feel separated from Source. We have to be clear and pure within if we want to know ourselves in a deeper way, and when more seekers realize this, they’ll transform their lifestyles in accordance with the divine qualities and walk their talk.

Footnotes:

  1. Wikipedia: “Bhakti Yoga” at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhakti_yoga
  2. Inspirational Stories: “Mencius Quotes” at: http://www.inspirationalstories.com/quotes/mencius-meng-tse-the-ways-are-two-love-and-want/
  3. Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher lsherwood, Shankara’s Crest-Jewel of Discrimination. Hollywood: Vedanta Press, 1975; c1947, 36-7.
  4. Brendan Doyle, ed., Meditations with Julian of Norwich. Santa Fe: Bear, 1983, 74.
  5. Anon., The Cloud of Unknowing trans. Clifton Wolters. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1978; c1961, 60.
  6. Ibid., 55.
  7. Richard Rolle, The Fire of Love. Trans. Clifton Wolters. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981; c1972, 46.

Concluded in Part 2 tomorrow.

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