Bhakti – the means to harmonize the mind (part 2)

More and more mental dross of a subtle nature is purged in the course of time. One feels more and more bhakti. St. John of the Cross says: “.. . the soul does not attain a sublime sense of love until it has passed through many trials, tribulations and a great part of the purgation.”

The aim of bhakti yoga is to channel all one’s desires, ambitions, all one’s emotional responses into the feeling of bhakti. This will eradicate the fluctuations of the mind and induce one-pointedness. This is clearly described in the Uddhava Gita when Krishna said: “Though attracted by objects of desire and though he has not yet gained control over the mind, my devotee is not overpowered by them, being shielded by his strong devotion to me. Just as fire steadily grows from a small flame to a blazing fire and burns fuel to ashes, so does devotion to me, O Uddhava, blaze forth and consume all obstacles.”

This makes the mind one-pointed and the fit receiver for the grace of illumination and bliss. But first of all the heart and the mind should flow in one direction. Bhakti trans-forms, transmutes one’s individual being from the gross to the more refined. It changes tamas (inertia and ignorance) into rajas (intense activity). Then it changes this rajas into sattwa, the purified state of calmness and receptivity. One becomes progressively sensitive in perception and feelings. In fact the state of sattwa is closely associated with bhakti. Shankaracharya points out: “The characteristics of pure sattwa are cheerfulness, realization of one’s self, peace, contentment, bliss and steady bhakti towards the atman, by which the aspirant enjoys eternal bliss.” (Vivekachudamani v. 119)

So there is a direct relationship between the clarity of the mind and bhakti, and here we mean spontaneous bhakti, not artificial bhakti. The cleaner the mind the greater the flow of bhakti and the mind becomes intensely one-pointed. In the Srimad Bhagavatam Krishna says: “The unceasing flow of the mind-stream towards me at the mere mention of my virtues, combined with motiveless love (prem) for me is the characteristic of the real bhakti yoga.”

Of course this bhakti need not only be felt towards Krishna; it can be felt towards any deity, any saint or your guru. This powerful one-directional bhakti leads to wonderful things. In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna says: “I take great care of those devotees who always think of me.” (9:22) And there it is .. . a promise. Such bhakti leads to mental harmony and more. The intense bhakta soars into the realms of higher awareness, bliss and knowledge.

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