Bhakti – the means to harmonize the mind (part 1)

If you naturally feel some kind of bhakti, no matter how small, then you are well on the way to cleaning out the mind of conflicts and phobias etc. You should follow the path of bhakti, for this is the means to calm the fluctuating mind, remove mental problems and make it more one-pointed. You will transmute a cloudy, murky personality into one that is as clear and sparkling as a crystal.

Live and take whatever comes, whether good or bad, for actually there is really nothing that is either good or bad. These are merely relative concepts. Everything is. Do and accept. This leads to peace of mind. Many of the tantric deities are depicted performing abhaya mudra. This is a mudra that indicates that everything will be all right. Everything that you are thinking now is incorrect and in time all your misconceptions and fears will disappear. These deities are indicating a great truth but without words. They are speaking through this mudra. Listen to them. In time you will find that they are ‘speaking’ the truth.

Bhakti purifies the mind. There is a beautiful analogy given by St. John of the Cross in his book Dark Night of the Sold. He says: “… this purgative and loving knowledge acts upon the mind which it is purging and preparing for perfect union in the same way that fire acts upon a log of wood in order to transform it into itself. Fire, acting on the wood, first of all begins to dry it by driving out the moisture and causing it to shed water. Then it begins to make it black, dark and unsightly, and even to give off a bad odour . . . and finally, the fire begins to kindle the wood and give it heat. At last, it transforms it into itself and makes it the same nature of the fire.”

This is indeed the process that each bhakta and in fact any person on the spiritual path must go through. The whole body and mind must be transformed and purified. Bhakti yoga is a powerful method of reducing the ego. Most of this mental debris is usually unrecognized. It is only when one becomes more sensitive and aware that these mental aberrations and impurities are seen. At this point they can be slowly whittled away. Without removing the mental disturbances it is not possible to become consumed with expanded awareness, in the same way that the wood cannot be consumed by the fire until it has been purged of moisture. This is one meaning of the word purgatory in Christianity; it is the stage in spiritual life where the mind is purged of all dross.

This process of purging the mind is not constant, but rather it fluctuates. One experi-ences peak periods of awareness and of bhakti, after which one is again subjected to purging. St. John of the Cross says: “.. . the fire of love once more attacks that which has to be consumed (the mental dross) for more purification.” This drop back into a state of anguish and mental disturbance is absolutely necessary, so that the aspirant can be further purified.

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