However they may conceive the ultimate goal, all schools of Yoga seek to open a door to your true nature, which we call the spirit or higher Self. You can find as many approaches to Self-realization (or enlightenment) as you can human beings. Everyone's spiritual journey is unique, yet everyone's inner evolution follows certain universal principles. That fundamental process is marked by progressive self-observation, self-understanding, self-discipline, and self-transcendence, which are all interconnected practices. The most significant principle is that in order to discover your essential nature, you must overcome the gravity pull of your ordinary habit patterns (laid down as neural pathways in your brain).
All of these bhakti religions have used the same method. They have only differed in the specific form (or forms) to which the followers are recommended to devote themselves. The basic mechanics are the same in all cases. they have all used bhakti yoga as a powerful means to transcendence.
Those people, however, who have some form of devotion or belief should definitely follow the path of bhakti because of their very personality. They may lack any form of higher experience, but they spontaneously feel devotion towards something. If you are one of these people then you should direct your emotion towards the object of devotion. For you bhakti yoga can be the express train to expanded awareness. But make sure that you are honest with yourself. If you have to sit down and think what shall I be devoted to, then this is a sure sign that you don't really have an object of devotion. You should not need to sit down and ask yourself the question. If you feel devotion for something, then you will know. There will be no doubt - your heart will immediately tell you the object which captivates your bhakti. If you feel strong devotion to one thing, without doubt, bhakti is the path for you. If you don't feel this overwhelming devotion for something, then at this stage bhakti is not...
The true greatness of Indian spiritual inheritance consists in the secret and glorious methods it has delivered to us for allaying life's sorrow and human unhappiness and for acquiring for the circumstance of human existence, the infinite peace and perfection of the Divine Being. Human grief cannot be alleviated as long as the human individual is immured in ignorance and strives merely for his individual pleasure and good. The genius of India has, to its immortal honour, soared above the conventional ties and the bonds of society, grasped the spiritual truth, realised it and proclaimed to the world, for the welfare of all mankind, that Life is One and not many. Apart from the petty disharmonies between one person and another, the nations of the world seem to be separated from each other and this virulent notion of division and separation is the mother of war and destruction. Deceived by the spectacular advancement of scientific knowledge, modern mind in all countries and continents...
Don't expect anything from your practice of bhakti yoga. This also applies to any other form of yoga. If you practise asanas, prana-yama, meditational practices and so forth, try not to expect anything. It is a strange thing that the more one expects, the less one will receive. This is because expectation implies ego and the greater the ego, the less one will make progress in yoga. This is very important. So in bhakti, don't expect anything in return for your feeling of bhakti. Merely project your devotion without expectation. This is not easy, but try. This point is clearly explained in many scriptures. Tlie following are a few examples My devotee desires nothing, not even transcendence if offered to him by Me, for desirelessness is the most direct route to liberation. These are the words of Krishna in the Uddhava Gita of the Srimad Bhagavatam.
Meditative practice on one form (sakara) can easily degenerate into mere idol worship. This has happened throughout history in every part of the world. People have worshipped idols and deities without the slightest idea of the implications behind their worship. The same tendency can arise when one tries to fix one's awareness on one object in meditative practice, though possibly at a less obvious level. That is, one may utilize a deity, mantra, psychic symbol, etc. and start to build up intellectual concepts about it. The symbol will become an object of intellectual speculation and superstition instead of being the means to transcendence. It is this point that the upani-shad is trying to explain when it says those who worship the manifest enter into even greater darkness. The purpose offixing one's awareness (worshipping) on one object is to
Sound at the lower end of the string and gradually moves along the string with perception of progressively subtler sound. Eventually this sound leads to the upper end of the string or pure consciousness. This is the path of nada yoga. Incidentally it is said that Socrates and other Greek mystics used nada as a means to transcendence.
In Christianity, the focal point of bhakti is Christ or the Virgin Mary. These can also lead to transcendence if the bhakti is great enough. In fact, this is the method that many great Christian saints have utilized in order to know the unspeakable. Saints like St. Bernard, St. Teresa, St. Francis and so forth were all bhaktas. They all used their love of Christ as a means to deeper understanding of existence. In this way, they harmonized their whole being. From this arose cosmic understanding and bhakti.
Before proceeding to describe the mode of operation of the divine Energy, kundalini, and the methods devised from ancient times to arouse it to activity, it is necessary to enter into a brief discussion about one point. If kundalini is the only natural device in human beings, implanted by nature to lead to transcendent states of consciousness, how has it been possible for the followers of other schools of Yoga and the adherents of other religions to attain the mystical state without awakening this power, and even without having the knowledge that such a force exists designed to stimulate it Furthermore, if there exists a power centre of this kind at all in the human frame, how has it escaped the notice of modern anatomists who have probed into every nook and corner of the body, and why when special methods are available to activate it, is the knowledge of the mechanism so rare, even in India, and the number of successful initiates so extremely small as to be almost negligible There is...
What we are trying to point out is that each particle in the universe is connected to the infinite. Therefore, is it inconceivable that any point, any object, any focus, any deity can lead us to transcendental experience You must answer this question for yourself through personal experience, but this in a sense gives scientific validity to the idea and method of bhakti yoga. One concentrates on a specific point. This leads to the beyond. Devotion of one's mental and emotional powers to a limited object can lead to transcendence. If you are scientifically inclined and you are following modern discoveries, then you should be able to see a glimmer of sense in the idea of attaining the infinite through the finite.
Much of tantra is concerned with worship in a ritualistic form using incantation (mantras) and magic circles or altars (mandalas). This is not done for superstitious reasons or in a blind manner. There is a very good reason for this form of spiritual practice, namely, eventual transcendence. All religious systems use this method, but generally the aim of ritualistic worship is lost sight of and it degenerates into mere automatic and meaningless actions. Because of this, little or no benefits result and in fact many people eventually come to regard ritual as mere ignorance, which it is indeed in most cases. There must always be a clear understanding of the purpose of ritual, to know that it is a means to go beyond. This is a point that tantra constantly bears in mind. The aim of tantra is to unleash the cosmic energy in man, so that he rises to higher levels of awareness. This is often done by self-identification with a particular devata, which represents or personifies a particular...
Bhakti can easily be labelled blind dogma and in many cases it has degenerated into exactly this. In the past and in the present day, bhakti has been totally misunderstood and misused. This has led to fanaticism and intolerance. This is not what bhakti is all about. Bhakti is not something that is easily acceptable to the modern intellectual world. This is a great pitv, for bhakti yoga is an incredibly powerful method that can lead to higher knowledge and transcendence. Not only this, bhakti yoga can help you to harmonize your life and make life the joy that it should be. People have seen the misuse and corruption of bhakti and have mistaken this for the essence of bhakti yoga. Bhakti yoga has vast implications which can transform your life. This topic has been written in an attempt to remove the cobwebs of misconceptions and to show you how bhakti yoga can transform your life. It will be quite a lengthy discussion.
In the minds of modern man, worship is often regarded as superstition. Because of misunderstanding, people no longer grasp the meaning and reason for worship, and the purpose of worship is so simple, yet profound. It is to focus one's whole attention on something to the exclusion of all other distractions. This brings about loss of ego and transcendence.
Eventually, of course, the aim is to jump beyond the fetters of both good and bad, for these are really relative terms. But this transcendence only occurs in states of higher awareness, and its meaning is beyond the realm of intellectual discussion. Until these stages of illumination, however, one must try to substitute so-called negative, adharmic actions by positive, dharmic actions. Disharmonious thoughts and actions have to be replaced by harmonious thoughts and actions. In a sense, one uses a thorn (good actions) to remove
The anahata chakra is the centre of devotion therefore, the colours of the given diagrams have been printed to convey an emotional tone. Incidentally, one of the greatest symbols of the anahata chakra is Hanuman, the monkey deity of the Indian scripture called the Rama-yana. It is he who shows total devotion to Rama in every action and thought. It is this devotion and identification that leads directly to transcendence.
Such is the power of mantra combined with devotion. Prayer is an important part of Christianity, as it is with most other religions. Prayer combined with devotion helps to purify the mind and reduce the power of the ego. This too can lead to greater levels of awareness. In a text called the Philocalia (a collection of early mystical Christian writings) St. Nilus says that the method of transcendence is the collection of the mind from its wandering and quietly leading it to the heart by way of breathing, and by repeating the prayer, 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me', in harmony with the breath. This leads to unification with the one, the single and unifying, directly in a union which transcends reason. This is a method of bhakti yoga combined with breath awareness. It can be done while sitting for meditational practice or during everyday activities.
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