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Lesson 68 - Q&A Relationship of traumatic
experiences and bhakti
Date: Mon Jan 5, 2004 10:18am
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive,
as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
Q: Four years ago my bother and I were in a car crash. I survived and he
didn't. After that my life was hell, filled with grief, guilt, anger and
despair. Then something happened. I just couldn't take it anymore. I longed
for an answer, and something let go inside me. Immediately, spiritual
knowledge started pouring into my life, and I knew what I would do for the
rest of my days. Your lesson on bhakti rings true with me, though my
experience with it has not been gradual. It came suddenly out of my
traumatized state, and my emotional state continues to move me forward
rapidly. What are your thoughts on this?
A: Traumatic experiences can often lead us to an awakening. While the sudden
loss of a loved one can never be fully rectified by anything, if we are able
to open, the process of bhakti will certainly try. The emotions are so huge
that the slightest letting go, the slightest redirecting of emotional energy
will have dramatic results. None of us would volunteer for such a mission,
but in life it happens.
When trauma happens, whether it is the loss of a loved one, a loss of
health, or other serious dislocation in life, a cycle of grief will occur.
It begins with disbelief, then can go into denial, then anger, and then down
a long emotional slope into despair. For most of us, there is little control
while this is happening. Then, at some point, there comes a letting go. It
can be months later, years later, or decades later. Maybe a letting go
doesn't happen at all for some. Everyone is different. When it does happen,
this is a crucial point in the process. Crucial in the sense that
emotionally we may gravitate back to some semblance of the way things were
before the trauma. It is normal to try for that. Or, we may let go into a
divine space, as you have done. That point in the grieving process is a kind
Again, it comes down to the first impulse of bhakti, that question: "Is
there something more?" If that question is there in some form, emotional
energy will rush into it. That question is a letting go, and the beginning
of the manifestation of our ishta inside, our highest ideal. It is also the
beginning of the manifestation of the guru, and responses are stimulated in
our outer environment by it.
It is an opening, a receptivity, a letting go that enables the bhakti
effect. As soon as we surrender our emotions to a higher purpose, they
become divine energy rushing in. Traumatic experiences put us in a position
where we may have little choice but to surrender, or face many years of
misery. It is a much more clear-cut choice to make than considering the
divine quest while engaged in the smaller ups and downs of mundane life in
the work-a-day world. The truth is, every emotion is an opportunity for
bhakti -- the very small ones, the very big ones, and every emotion
in-between. The emotions will be there. The letting go may or may not be
there. That is up to us. It is we who choose.
Having embarked on the spiritual path with a strong and continuing bhakti
surge, you have found something sacred in your tragedy. Keep in mind that
bhakti is powerful spiritual practice. Make sure to balance your practices
to give the best chance for a smooth unfoldment of pure bliss consciousness
and divine ecstasy.
The guru is in you.
Note: For detailed instructions on
employing desire and action on our spiritual path, see the
AYP Bhakti and Karma Yoga book,
and AYP Plus.
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