A summary of bhakti yoga – part 1

We have written much about bhakti yoga. But the flow of ideas on the subject kept coming and coming. There seems to be no end, and even now there are countless other things that could be said. But at this point it is time to stop, and give you a chance to follow the path of bhakti yoga for yourself if you are devotionally inclined.

Each of us has emotions. They are a normal part of the human makeup. But few people can direct and focus these emotions in one direction and towards positive and constructive purposes.

Each person is looking for a suitable object or person on which to express and focus their emotions. This occurs either consciously or unconsciously and is the case with both the obviously emotional person and the seemingly unemotional person. It is in this search for a suitable focal point for emotions and feeling that people rush wildly after so many things in life, and as a result their emotions are needlessly dissipated. Others, who have met with severe and traumatic rebuffs in their efforts to express emotions, tend to suppress them. This is a great problem in life and there is only one positive method of solving it: one must try to focus all the emotions on one thing. The emotions have to be channelled in one direction. Some people do this by directing all their emotions into their work. There is nothing wrong with this, providing you follow as closely as possible the principles of karma yoga3. If you don’t then the emotions will rebound and once again cause you disturbances. The best method is to direct all one’s emotions towards one subject or object of veneration. One should try and convert emotions into devotion and surrender and dedicate all one’s aspirations to the object of devotion. One should offer all the fruits of actions, either spiritually or mentally. This is bhakti yoga, but it is not easy.

Bhakti yoga is often regarded as being very different from other forms of yoga, but this is not really true. In hatha yoga, the mind is made one-pointed by awareness of the breath or different parts of the body. In raja yoga the mind is made one-pointed by awareness of a fixed symbol or a psychic centre. In jnana yoga the mind is made one-pointed by total absorption in an enquiry. In karma yoga the mind becomes concentrated by complete absorption in one’s work. In bhakti yoga the same result, namely one-pointedness of the mind, is achieved through love and devotion. If there is devotion towards one thing, then all the energy of the mind will also flow in the same direction. Love is probably the strongest force for concentrating the mind. The greater the love then the greater the concentration.

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