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In Search of Love | Devi’s Grace

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

All worldwide rights copyrights reserved by Vivianne Nantel, 2021  ( Shree Devi Mayi ma at Devi’s grace)

In Search of Love | Devi’s Grace

In a society which is obsessed with sex, youth, physical appearance, money, status, acquisitions, prestige, fame, power, and smart phone; and in a culture which is overwhelmed with work, emails, phone calls, media; in a world which is bombarded with wars, terrorist attacks, cruelty toward animals, heartbreaks, debates, depressions, neuroses, psychoses, divorces, and stress, where is love? One may wonder what is love?

We are in search of a love which expresses the greater reality and truth of our genuine nature; that love which is transformational and transcendental—Divine love. Our beings are in need of healing words and images. Throughout the centuries, Yoga teaches us that our true nature is Sat-Chit-Ananda—ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-eternal bliss.

We live in an era where we are crying out for love, yet cannot even hear ourself. We are trapped in our own fabricated cage, yet have wings to fly. We are drowning in the sea of misery, yet we are the vast ocean of love.

In the profound tradition of Yoga, we find a magnificent living tree still standing tall after over 7,000 years with six major branches of yoga, in which each one bears its fruit. Hatha yoga (forceful) the most familiar branch to Westerns, Bhakti (devotion-love), Jnana (right knowledge), Raj (royal), Karma (action) and Tantra yoga (continuity) remain to be discovered still by millions of seekers. Bhakti is the only branch of yoga which teaches us how to reconnect with that powerful source of love, and how to redirect our emotions and harness its power. This is the path of love, of devotion allowing the heart center (anahata-cakra) to open up like a blossoming lotus under the sunlight. Divine love is our genuine nature, yet we are asleep dreaming a human dream. We are spiritual beings having a human illusion. 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.

Yoga is not based on any blind belief system, doctrine or dogma. It is not a religion. Yoga is the science of experiencing the whole of existence as One. It is the science of inner well-being, of self-realization. Any genuine and persistent seeker can experience the Source from within, and know its ultimate nature of bliss. We may not have the same abilities and capabilities on the physical level, but we all have the same possibility on the energetic level to experience the Source of creation. The ancient science of yoga always leads to expansion, boundlessness, oneness, and liberation, no matter our background and life accumulations.

The Sanskrit word Bhakti is derived from the root bhaj which means “to share,” “to participate in,” or “to engage with affection.” In essence isn’t this what we do when we are madly in love with someone –sharing the most profound part of ourselves- our spirit. For instances, in a Divine sacred love relationship two individuals can merge as One, and often do. Love is the most powerful force of all. Love engenders love.

Over the ages, the word “Bhakti” became known as “devotion” and “love,” and its practitioners as Bhaktas, or devotees. Bhakti is the union of the lover and the beloved as the ultimate absolute One, so Bhakti is the yoga of self-transcending love. Its original root is debated among scholars.

According to Dr. Georg Feuerstein, Internationally well-known scholar on the Yoga tradition, “The Vedic hymns (Rig Veda) are invocations to various higher powers and reverential celebration (Vedic age 4500-2500 B.C.). In them we find the earliest historical roots of Bhakti yoga.” In the famous epic Bhagavad-Gita dating back to approximately 400-500 B.C., the word Bhakti is used throughout in the text. Bhakti Sutra by the legendary sage Narada is one of the two sutras (aphorisms of love) expounding the path of love and devotion (around 1000 C.E.). The other one is from Sage Shandilya. “Bhakti” says Narada in his aphorisms, “is intense love to God.”  For Shandilya, Bhakti is “supreme attachment to the lord.” This form of attachment becomes a sacred connection, where our small mind and its perpetual egoistic demands melt away by the intensity of our burning heart. This yoga of devotion seems to hold the magical key for the entrapped and captured heart. It also allows the gateway of grace for the energy to move up into the higher chakras, and to experience other dimensions beyond the physicality as I explain in depth in my first major book, Becoming The Light: Realize Your True Enlightened Nature.

By allowing Divine love to flow immediately opens up the heart chakra. St. Augustine once said ”Our heart is restless, until it rests in thee.” For the genuine Bhakta….the universal lover:  the aroma of an eucalyptus tree, a stray cat playing, an old man strolling by, a deer grazing nearby, even moss growing on a rock reveal the greatness and oneness of our Creator. When devotees hear the birds singing, it is God whispering to our ears. Every object and action is worshipped and sanctified as the manifestation of the Supreme. Devotion is seeing and experiencing a profound reverence to all in this creation, and seeing the Divine in it. Genuine devotion is that which is devoid of our personality and sense of self. Vulnerability is essential to experience a dimension of reality beyond the physical realm. One must break free from the gateway of resistance and logic to experience the light. Our most important triumph is to allow our ultimate nature to lead the way. Consciously or unconsciously we must face our inner battle.

Devotion and love expand our consciousness to the Source of creation by allowing our all-encompassing ultimate nature to realize itself. Only then can the intensity of our longing be felt, the cry resonating with the Divine be heard.

Dr. Feuerstein describes Bhakti yoga as “the yoga of loving self-dedication to, and love-participation in, the Divine person. It is the way of the heart. Shandilya, the author of the bhakti sutra, defines bhakti as ‘supreme attachment to the lord.’This is the only attachment that does not reinforce the egoic personality and its destiny. Instead, the bhakti-yogin consciously harnesses love in their quest for communion or union with the Divine.”

Living our lives in a state of loving devotion is the wisest way to exist and to live –expanding our consciousness to the beyond. My whole life is a profound testimony of the power of the path of love. I spent nine years to manifest my first book, Becoming The Light. I had to face so many major challenges and made many sacrifices for its birth. Without pure loving devotion, this offering would not have been possible. A devotee is beyond reason. He or she is simply on all the time for no reason because we have forever fallen in love in the ocean of Divine love. To the outsiders, devotion looks utterly stupid because a devote has a different kind of intelligent—a perception that is endlessly expanding and that is beyond the logic of this physical realm.

“Devotion is another dimension of intelligence. Intellect wants to conquer the truth. Devotion just embraces the truth. Devotion cannot decipher but devotion can experience. Intellect can decipher but can never experience. This is the choice one has to make,” says Sadhguru.

The devotee is the lover; the Divine is the beloved. In this interconnection, the transcendental reality is viewed as a personal God rather than an impersonal absolute truth. Even though Bhakti yoga is often regarded by several schools as a philosophy of dualism, the one final goal appears to remain the same for most schools of Bhakti—to merge so totally with the Divine, that one looses completely the illusion of the ego, and becomes intoxicated in the blissful state of samadhi, bathing in the ecstasy of Divine love. The sensation of millions of minuscule bubbles of intoxicating joyful love emanates from the heart region tickling every cell of our being.

Paramahansa Yogananda put it simply, “If you could feel even a particle of Divine love, so great would be your joy -so overpowering- you could not contain it. Divine love is the only perfect love.” In the last moment of realization, the Bhagavad Gita described it as complete love supreme-participation (para-Bhakti). We can’t understand devotion, only experience it by allowing grace of the Divine to flow through us. Identifying us with our personality is the greatest barrier. Devotion is not an act. We have to see our limitations, and experience longing for the boundlessness of the beyond within us.

Prior to this self-realization, the devotee needs to regard God as a person, so the Divine can be worshiped or celebrated in songs, chants, dance, rituals, right actions, meditation and art. There is also a meditative aspect to Bhakti yoga. You becomes so intoxicated with Divine love by focusing your energy into chanting, dancing, reciting or painting for God, that it becomes natural to lose oneself into your natural loving blissful state.

On the path of love the devotee grows with intense passion (rati) for the beloved, the Divine one, whomever may be that representation — a spiritual master or teacher, Jesus Christ, Krishna, Shiva, Mohammed, Ganesh, Maha Avartar Babaji Goraksha, the Buddha, Kali, Bhairavi Devi, or your lover, etc. The symbolic objective of this sacred figure is for the devotee to expand, embrace and express the same Divine love to every being, all animals and the entire universe. That is the goal of any genuine spiritual master (Satguru)– to impart, transmit that wisdom and energy. Then self-realization will unfold naturally. The flow of Divine love is then expressed with great reverence and respect in this manifested world. Mother Theresa illustrated this pure Divine love with her work when she once said she sees “Jesus in every face.”  The opposite is true, if one is too full of himself or herself, it will be extremely hard to become a devotee.

 Dr. Georg Feuerstein writes in The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice:

The emotional force of the human being is purified and channeled toward the Divine. In their discipline of ecstatic self-transcendence, the bhakti-yogins or bhaktas (“devotee”) tend to be more openly expressive than the typical râja-yogin or jnânin. The followers of Bhakti-Yoga do not, for instance, shy away from shedding tears of longing for the Divine. In this approach, the transcendental Reality is usually conceived as a supreme Person rather than as an impersonal Absolute.

            Shree Devi Mayi Ma

All worldwide rights copyrights reserved by Vivianne Nantel, 2021 ( Shree Devi Mayi ma at Devi’s grace)