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Bhakti Yoga - The Yoga of Devotion

hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare

hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare



Radha calls to Krishna, as “the one who has captured my heart, mind, body and soul, my everything, my all!”

Krishna affectionately calls Radha, his beloved, the name Rama, which means “my queen, my delight.”

This is a love dialogue between the soul (Radha) and God (Krishna).

—From The Kālį Santaraṇa Upaniṣad (thirty-two syllable mantra)


There are many limbs and paths towards Enlightenment, and they are all as good as one another. It is only to choose one that resonates with you and do that for the rest of your life, and lifetimes until you arrive !


If you’re wondering what are some of these paths? Well there are quite a few, from Raja (yoga of mental development) , Karma (yoga of action), Hatha (the yoga of asana practice), Jnana (yoga of knowledge), plus a few others. Today we will speak of Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion.


Bhakti Yoga is devotional yoga. Devotion means love, loyalty and enthusiasm for the sacred. Without devotion, most likely, you would not be reading this. Without devotion we all would have stopped our spiritual practice after the “honeymoon phase“! What is it that keeps us going? What is it that keeps us getting up, unrolling our mats and folding our meditation blanket?


Worship will bring us closer to our object of devotion. Every time we set our intention at the beginning of a practice or a day, it is like typing the destination into a navigation system. In spiritual practice the force that is guiding our way is God or some other form of sacred energy that will become what is drawing us toward it and consequently ourselves.


But allowing guidance or even asking for it requires humility- the acknowledgement of not knowing, faith or trust in something we might not intellectually understand and devotion, the ability to stay on the path, even if it requires hard work.


A human body often takes the shape of what it is asked to do throughout its lifetime: a ballerina's feet will take the shape of pointe shoes, a violinist's neck might always lean more to the side she was holding the instrument, a sculptor’s hands might be rough, and so on. Just like our body molds and forms in a way what we are mostly using it for, so does our mind and soul.


Our activities shape our bodies and our emotions are imprinting our faces. We are like stones, eroded by water over a long time. Whatever we devote ourselves to will mold and shape us, more and more over time. That means if we are devoting ourselves to worship the sacred, the Divine or Love, the more we will become the sacred, the Divine or Love itself.


Worship has a very repetitive nature, the same ritual is being performed countless times with the greatest love and devotion possible at the moment. Devotion knows no boredom or rigidity in the usual sense, it does not care how often the same thing is done. Devotion will always bring the same magic to an action like it was the first or the last time it is performed. As Padmaji says: “with great love all is possible.“ Devotion is the greatest love and it most certainly makes all possible. Or in reverse – with little love, not much is possible. With little love every spiritual aspirant would get blown off their path at the first difficulty. Practice without devotion is like a lamp with no oil. It won’t sustain and it will bring no light.


The Maha Mantra (from the top of this page) is a cosmic love song to the Divine and it is worship in its most joyous form. When we fully devote ourselves to chanting, we lose ourselves in chanting to love, remembering it's qualities, and bringing forth it's emotional state; we become love itself.


By singing the name of the Divine, we remember our Divine nature. The longing and the yearning that is vibrating through this mantra will become our own, once we are chanting it – and our soul will remember it's yearning to be united with the Divine or its inherent Divine nature.


Devotion has many faces: It can be ecstatic, like chanting the Maha Mantra for days and nights, but it can also be more quiet and intimate. It can be small, like a little bow of the head toward the heart to remember God or Guru before we move into our first sun salute. Devotion can be subtle, like carefully picking up an item from the altar and cleaning it. Maybe it means just practicing what one was taught by the teacher. Our devotion might even take different forms and shapes throughout our lives and at some point our worship will become so subtle that it will be almost invisible, because we already became what we worshipped.


The Krishna mantra above is one of my most favorite and is so very powerful when recited daily, weekly, monthly, yearly!


Bhakti Yoga is a beautiful practice, one the I hope resonates with one of you and you will be inspired to praise God today and in all days.


Namaste


Berta

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