In Bhakti yoga, the most ordinary activity may become full of spiritual beauty, value, and significance if it is performed or expressed for the unfolding of selflessness and the expression of Divine love. The Source is manifested in every atom of this universe. So it does not matter at the end who is our sacred figure and/or religion, because the same thread connects us all. We are all interconnected as One like waves of the cosmic ocean. When we hurt someone, an animal or nature, we only are hurting ourselves. When we let someone down, we are letting ourselves down. Inner beauty is realizing and experiencing the oneness of existence. That is to be in yoga. Love and compassion are the pulsating heart of all spiritual paths and religions. When an individual feels Divine love within, the rest blossoms like a wild garden; compassion, understanding, reverence, harmony and respect all occur naturally within.
Thus, Bhakti yoga is universal and can be practiced by anyone from any religious, socio-cultural or economic background. The only criterion is to have longing for the Divine. This emotional force called “Rati” transforms the lover, shedding all psychological and emotional limitations, blocks and fears. One may wonder, is this path of love merely one of sentimentalism and emotional outburst? Bhakti yoga recognizes the amazing power of human emotions, and encourages devotees to wisely channel their energy to the highest Divine goal, the ultimate objective of existence.
Devotion liberates the imprisoned heart from its own fabricated jail, to feel again by letting go of life conditioning, depression, socialization and the false illusion of the ego. Devotion elevates and expands our consciousness to the Source by allowing our genuine nature to pierce through. Only then the intensity of the longing (Rhada) of our being can be felt— the cry heard. “Your life becomes utterly beautiful because your emotion has become so sweet. Through that sweetness, one grows. That is devotion,” says Sadhguru.
When one becomes passionate for the Divine, one opens up their heart to this entire creation, breaking down all man-made barriers. All religious, political, ethic and socio-economic walls dissolved. Divine love then flows abundantly. Bhakti Yoga is the alchemist healer for the brokenhearted, the lost soul, the wounded one who is afraid to love again for fear of rejection, commitment, vulnerability, pain and suffering. Decades ago my heart was shattered to pieces. I never thought I could ever love again. But my devotion to the Divine healed me. I have experienced the healing power of Bhakti Yoga. “If you use your emotions and try to reach the ultimate, we call this Bhakti yoga, the path of devotion,” says Sadhguru.
The element of surrendering is the core of Bhakti yoga, without it there
cannot be any devotion and pure love. “Thy will be done.” Most Westerns do not understand the meaning of this Eastern thought on “surrendering.” Many individuals view it as a demeaning or a submissive position. Surrendering is empowering spiritually. Surrendering is letting go of the strong demands of the ego personality, and getting rid of the noisy chaos of the mind which are responsible for our anxieties, fears, limitations, stress, worries, confusion and suffering. “Surrender” allows the eternal beauty of our true nature to shine thru. How can we deny ourselves the highest? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (Gurudev) says on surrendering, “Have faith in the organizing power of the supreme intelligence and have the sincere feeling, ‘let thy will be done.’ That is a state of total contentment. The pinnacle of love is also called ‘surrender’- where your whole being becomes one with the infinite, where the river meets the ocean, where the activity reposes in rest, in the self.”
Offering flowers, incense, candles, and fruits to the Divine is not enough; it is like compassion without action. Offering every breath, every thought, every action with a heartfelt passion to the Divine is the devotion of the genuine bhakta; worship God in every particle of this universe. “What dawns in you is freedom and joy. Divine love is itself an end, is itself the fruit,” says Gurudev. Once Anandamayi-Ma said, “If one loses one’s being in the contemplation of the Divine name, one can merge oneself in the ocean of Heavenly Beauty.” Her entire life also exemplified this sublime path of love, so is my my work—my breath.
In the state of surrendering, of abandoning oneself, we have already won the victory because a fragrance of equanimity will exude from us like a blossoming garden. Surrendering begets expansion of consciousness. Divine love brings us back home, healing us from the illusion of separation from the Source. The more we know and experience our ultimate nature, the more we become an instrument and expression of beauty, love, and compassion. Compassion is always the highest expression of love. Genuine love is just there like the sun radiating all over the planet, and all living beings. Its rays emanate without discrimination, without asking for anything in return. Divine Love is our very nature. It needs to be experienced, expressed. We have wings to soar. When Divine love is present, it can never go away. It is eternal and boundless.
Forever in search of eternal Divine love, I woke up one morning ….an epiphany had blossomed in my being like a baby lotus bathing in a tranquil pond. As a yogini, mystic, spiritual guide, vocalist, composer, artist and author, I realized my work is a spiritual ritual and devotion offered to the Divine Mother. I only sing, chant, write, compose music and paint for the Divine and help others and the animals to lose myself in it—as an instrument glorifying its wonder. Like the blue moon scintillating on a crystal lake, my work reflects our deepest longing to merge. Shakti, the primordial Divine energy permeates all that my being is.
Only from the garden of Divine love can compassion, kindness, and selfless service spring forth. When Divine love grows in one’s heart, all human values flourish. Serving humanity becomes natural. Jesus Christ’s greatest teaching was the simplest — the path of love. And love starts from within, radiating, growing like a wild flower garden. Love is expressed in compassion in actions, respect, understanding, cooperation, caring, forgiving and kind actions. Love is the very core essence of all religious and spiritual traditions.
Being in a state of Bhakti yoga does not limit us to only one branch of our living tree. When Divine love flows, devotion, right actions, and right knowledge naturally take off like a young dove on its first flight. The longing for meditation and asana (postures) grow strong. We start serving humanity as our beloved one, discovering and realizing the light within us. Swami Vivekananda shared with us long ago, “The great advantage of Bhakti is that it is the easiest and most natural way to reach the great Divine end in view.”
“The satisfaction of love is not the feeling itself, but in the joy that feeling brings. Love gives joy. We love ‘love’ because it gives us such intoxicating happiness. So love is not the ultimate; the ultimate is bliss. God is Sat-Chit-Ananda, ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new bliss. We, as soul, are individualized Sat-Chit-Ananda. True love is Divine, and Divine love is joy,” explained Paramahansa Yoganada.
“Devotion is a way of transforming your emotion from negativity to pleasantness. Just see, people who have fall in love do not care about what is happening in the world. The way they are, you think they are unrealistic. It is just that they have made their emotions pleasant, so their life is beautiful. That is the state of a devotee.” says Sadhguru.
Thus bhakti yoga brings us back home, healing us from the illusion of separation from the Source. Experiencing Divine love is finding and experiencing our Creator, and is accessible to everyone. Then our ephemeral journey on earth becomes more beautiful, more meaningful as the entire universe belongs to us and we belong to the each other. An blossomed heart is the path to the ultimate truth– transforming us to an expanded consciousness. We may not have control over wars, natural disasters and the economy, but we have the will to open up our heart to seek this ultimate transcendental and transformational love, finding our ultimate genuine nature and allowing the light to permeate our actions. It is our foremost responsibility. When we become aware of the intensity of our longing for the Source and invoke the Divine within, our cry is heard. Expressing devotional love helped my being liberate my imprisoned heart.
There is profound humility in surrendering, in abandoning oneself completely. In that surrender an inexplicable sense of serenity and bliss exudes from within. That presence is the Source shining forth. We can live with an ever expanding consciousness, or as a slave to our compulsiveness and early conditioned training and life accumulations. The choice is ours. The essence of wisdom is always timeless, universal and expansive. There is only one truth, one Source of creation manifesting in billions of different forms. What we call “God” is always within us. We are all interconnected. At the very core, we are a unique expression and manifestation of the Divine, a microscopic mirror of the macroscopic existential phenomena. Through the transformative power of yoga, the beauty of our ultimate nature shines through. Feeling a sense of belonging is a portal to knowing our ultimate being, realizing there is only One. Belonging is vital for reconnecting with the Divine within us.
The only boundary between our mastery and our dreams is us. That conditioned and brained-washed personality we do accumulate over the decades can cause the most intense misery and sufferings. When we are in a state of Divine love, physical boundaries melt away. We expand and stretch that love to all living beings . . . to infinity. Even power is an illusion. Our ultimate nature is naturally powerful because of its true Divine essence. Only within the depth of our inner shrine can we know and experience the truth. Genuine healing emerges from our expanding consciousness, and it transforms our being. The more our consciousness expands, the more we blossom. Divine love brings us back home, healing us from the illusion of separation from the Source. Our ephemeral journey on earth becomes richer, more beautiful, more meaningful as the universe belongs to us. Like a bamboo in a hurricane, we bend with resiliency, strength, grace and dignity without breaking. As long as there is a split between two entities, we will experience duality, exclusiveness, and hierarchy. There is only ONE!
Until we desperately long to know and seek the truth, it will never be revealed to a believer, only to a seeker. Listening is hearing with our heart, our spirit. Every particle of our being must be engaged. Every form has a unique sound, yet this whole creation is chanting a universal song. Have you heard its melody calling, vibrating within you yet?
From untruth to truth, darkness to light, ignorance to enlightenment, this has been my journey. In vain I had been seeking every corner of this earth, looking into every place of worship until one day I woke up in a valley of rose petals… experiencing thee in the shrine of my heart, resting in my sacred temple.
Shree Devi Mayi Ma
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