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Lesson 338 - Bhakti - You are the Doorway  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: June 17, 2009

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 This Discussion?"

The classical definition of bhakti yoga is union through devotion. By devotion, we mean the continuous flow of desire in accordance with a vision. We can also call the vision an ideal, and it is chosen by each of us in a very individual and personal way.

Bhakti is the primary engine of all spiritual progress, and of all spiritual practices we may undertake to enhance our spiritual progress. It is our longing that must be stirring before we can take the steps necessary to grow. Longing is an emotion, a need. We don't even have to know what it is we are needing. The feeling is enough to make things happen, assuming we are willing to act. The desire comes first. Then comes action. And from action we see more that we can experience and know, and our longing is further stimulated by that. 

The simple process just described is an organic one, and is at the heart of every spiritual journey, and of every religion. It is human longing for answers about our ultimate purpose and destiny that drives the mechanisms of spiritual experience and realization everywhere on the earth. And so too does human longing for truth drive the religions that serve this great purpose to the extent they are able to transcend their political agendas and institutional limitations. It is not so complicated.

While we may have been taught that our salvation is in the hands of this or that god or religious institution, our salvation is in our own hands according to our own longing and willingness to act upon it. 

The human nervous system is the center of all spiritual progress, not any authority outside us. 

This isn't to say we will not be devoted to the deity or ideal we have known since childhood, or to any other we may be drawn to in our life. There are innumerable sources of spiritual inspiration and energy in the world. But it is we who open the valve for that energy to flow into our life. When we are ready, the spiritual energy will flow. When the valve is continuously open by our own desire and action, then we will find ourselves living in a state of grace. Ongoing bhakti and grace are two sides of the same coin. 

We may give all that we have and do to our god or our chosen ideal in "active surrender." It is our own devotion that creates the freedom and happiness we are living. That is grace. It is a fascinating dynamic, giving credence to the phrase, "The more we give, the more we receive." 

It is in our own hands. But only to the extent we are ready. Fortunately, it is not all or nothing. We can inch our way into the increasingly powerful dynamic of bhakti, and we need not be "religious" about it. Contrary to what we may have been taught, there are no absolutes in the field of devotion. We can begin with the simplest of inquires, like, "Who am I" and "Why am I here?" 

If we ask with longing, the answers will begin to come, and we can move forward from there. This is the wonder of bhakti. It is very systematic and can function with the effective use of any emotion we may be experiencing here and now. The results of applied bhakti are predictable and repeatable, leading us to call bhakti the science of devotion. We will be exploring the particulars of this in upcoming lessons.

The journey of bhakti and of human spiritual transformation is a continuum, not an instant event. It is occurring right here, right now, and our realization of truth can evolve naturally within the life we are living. No need to run off to the mountain top, or trade in our family and career for robes and exotic gurus. These veneers are insignificant in relation to a longing heart expressing itself in ordinary life. Enlightenment is not about place or lifestyle. It is about our desire and its expression in effective spiritual practices, and how that naturally overflows into the conduct of our daily life. So the kind of bhakti we discuss here is not pie in the sky. It is up close and personal (see Lesson 112)

The guru is in you.

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Note: For detailed discussion on the roles of desire and action on our spiritual path, see the Bhakti and Karma Yoga book, and AYP Plus.

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