Bhakti: The Heartfelt Path
by Nischala Joy Devi.
April 23, 2013.
One of the sweetest yoga practices is Bhakti Yoga—the yoga of devotion, the yoga of love. Unlike many of the practices that tend toward precise instructions, there is no right or wrong way to love. Each one of us, in our own way, can express our wholehearted love of the Divine and of creation.
Often, as we tread lightly on the glorious path of Bhakti Yoga, the heart embraces the Divine in external form. It is always interesting for me to speak to individuals who are both of the same faith about their personal relationship with the Divine and to notice how differently each experiences it—as mother, father, friend, or something else entirely. Some identify the Divine with the name and form; yet, for others it is nameless and formless. Many imagine cosmic consciousness somewhere far away; for others it takes on a more accessible human form.
Often the Divine speaks through a person or holy book. Within the same holy book, the Divine is described as wrathful, loving, spiteful, compassionate. Which one is accurate? Could it be that we are projecting our own human traits and personalities onto the Divine? Could the Divine embody all of these qualities? Choose carefully which aspect you want to embrace, for “as you think, so you become.” Whatever way you decide to show your devotion, bhakti is one of the most natural ways for us to locate the ever-present Divine.
From our outward devotion we discover that the Divine also dwells within. At first it may appear as a small part of us, usually through some altruistic act. On performing an act of kindness, we may give credit to that glimmer of the indwelling Divine. “It is not me,” we say, gesturing toward the sky. What happens when we are blamed? Hanging our heads, we refer to the dominant “human” perception of who we are and proclaim, “It’s all my fault. I am not good enough.”
Eventually, and perhaps after much discomfort, we arrive at the next stage of spiritual evolution, recognizing that, in good deeds and in bad, we are one with the Divine. Then, we begin to honor that Divine in our own hearts.
The greatest challenge awaits us: to accept that the same Divine dwells in everyone!
Portions of this article from The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras
Photo Credit: Bhaskar Deva | ©Abundant WellBeing