What the Bhakti?!

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Bhakti Yoga is classically defined as the path of devotion, often referred to as the yoga of love. Bhakti is one of the three primary paths to enlightenment laid out by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (the two other paths being jnana, the path of knowledge, and karma, the path of action, often interpreted as service to others). In bhakti the practice of yoga is one of concentrating one's mind, emotions, and senses on the divine, however that is interpreted for you in order to merge into divine love as one with all beings and the earth.

Essentially, bhakti yoga is the cultivation of unconditional love. Traditionally it involves devotion to a guru or a deity or deities, although in a Western concept this is often ore foreign to us. I believe that bhakti yoga gives us the freedom to worship the Divine in whatever form we like, or as formless, or as mother earth. Whether you direct your love and devotion to a god, a guru, or the Divine in all things, as you cultivate a sense of love, gratitude, and devotion for something seemingly outside yourself, you essentially fill yourself with love. In the act of giving love, you receive it. 

Do we need a guru? Well, maybe, but that is a spontaneous journey, and usually when you come across that being who is evolved and resonates with you, you know it, and are inextricably drawn to that figure and their teachings. It's not something you can really search for, you can merely be ready to be open and surrender to the experience of this kind of immersive love when it finds you. By practicing bhakti, you are preparing yourself to have love as your natural reaction to every situation, which is clearly a good way to be in the world where that is certainly not our current default position!

The bhakti remedy for when you're suffering from the pain of being human and all our attachments and travails in samsara, is to surrender to the Divine with a love that is more permanent and transcendent. Practice long enough and you become completely immersed in the love you are giving and receiving. Then you are ready to really see your own divinity, waiting there for you to discover.

Polly McGee