Bhakti Yoga – The Yoga of Devotion
Bhakti Yoga is the practice of the development of love and devotion to God. It is inward, spiritual practice. It is not about stretching in physical yoga asanas. The practice of devotion or Bhakti yoga is a very very important part of the spiritual path. As the great Swami Sri Yukteswar said: “Without love and devotion you can not set even one foot in front of the other in this path…”
Bhakti yoga develops your devotion and love toward God. What happens is that many people, especially in the west, find it very difficult to love something so abstract, incomprehensible and inconceivable. How do we love some cosmic being that we even can’t see or comprehend? We don’t want to direct our prayers to some aristocratic king out there. We need to feel God as somebody near and dear to us.
Although we all know that God is far beyond anything we can even understand, we know that He is infinite cosmic consciousness, we also know that He transcends every human feeling that we know of.
So how can we love Him then? It is much easier for us to love God in the form of a human being than it is to think of Him like some abstract kind of form. So the teachings of Bhakti yoga say that we should think of God in a way that we can comprehend His love and bliss. We need to think of Him as our friend, our mother, father, or our beloved. Many people worship God in a form of the Divine Mother, others worship Him as Krishna or Rama or Jesus Christ, or some other human form.
In order to make our spiritual advancement easier, we can worship Him in any of these forms but always know that He is much more than that. He is infinite. All saints and yogis have been tended to worship God in this way, but never forget that He is much much more than just the image of worshiping. This is just a principle.
Even when you pray and meditate thinking of God in a form that you can love, you have to always sense and feel that God has no fixed form, that He is looking at you from every human being, every blade of grass, every little bird or mighty mountain. God is talking to you through all sense impressions that you receive. Feel that He is everywhere, He is everything. That’s how yogis and saints have been able to love everyone. Because they see God in all living creatures. Even they know that God is impersonal, they know that He can be very personal also. After all, He became us, He became you.
Even it is also possible to love God in an abstract way it is much more difficult for us to do that. The important thing is not how one defines God, but how one approaches Him. Worship God in the form you want to but always feel the infinite love and joy behind that form.
Bhakti Yoga is also loved God in each other. If you love some people and hate others for this reason or another, your love is not perfect yet. We should not love people because they are this or that way, except that we see God in them. That’s what Bhakti yoga is all about. To develop that kind of perfect love toward God, and therefore toward all living beings and the whole of creation. When you develop that kind of love then you will be a step further toward the ultimate goal of divine calmness and infinite joy or Samadhi.
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