Today’s blog explores one spiritual practice that helps us to integrate the principles described in yesterday’s guest blog, and chapter six in my book, Authentic Freedom – Claiming Contentment and Joy.
As we were reminded in yesterday’s blog by guest blogger, Swami Nithyananda, if we are seeking love in our lives, the first thing we need to acknowledge is that love is NOT something we can get from another person. Love is not a commodity to be bought, sold, earned or denied. Love is our very nature and therefore can only be found within ourselves. If we seek to have loving relationships with others, we have to start by knowing the love within ourselves…only then can we be unconditionally loving toward ourselves and toward another. When we know the love that we are, we resonate with the energy of that love and reflect it out into the world. In doing so, others are reminded of their own loving nature and may also decide to seek to know the love with themselves.
Coming to Know this Love
The journey to knowing the love that we are has many possible paths. For me, I have found knowing God through scripture, meditation, prayer, ritual, worship, service, contemplation, writing, being in nature and working with amazing teachers (including my therapist, spiritual director, family, friends, etc. ) have all been helpful and supportive vehicles for coming to know this love. There is one tool, however, that I have found to be most helpful (for me anyway) and that is the practice of Bhakti Yoga.
Devotion to the Beloved
Bhakti yoga is the spiritual practice of intense devotion to “The Beloved.” While this practice has been officially named as such by the Hindu and Yogic traditions of India, the practice of devotion has also been a big part of the Hebrew and Christian traditions. In this practice, meditation, prayer, chant, and worship are focused and directed toward the Divine imagined as our lover and beloved. In the Yogic tradition, the Divine might be imagined as Krishna, Radha, Shiva, Shakti, etc. In the Hebrew tradition, we may direct our attention toward Adonai, Elohim, the Shekinah, YHWH. In the Christian tradition, devotion is directed toward Jesus. The specific tool that I have found to be most helpful in this practice of devotion is sacred chant or Kirtan.
Hare Krishna/Hare Christos/Hare Adonai
In Bhakti yoga, one of the primary tools of devotion to the beloved is chant or Kirtan (chant done in a call and response format). Chanting the names of the beloved is said to change our own vibration to more closely reflect the love of the Divine and to bring us into resonance with the love that is our truest nature. In chanting the sacred names, we are healed, transformed, brought into harmony with the Divine in love, peace and joy. The Hare Krishna chants, those to Rama, Radha, Sita, etc. all work toward this end. The exciting thing is that in the Hindu and Yogic traditions, these names are universal…meaning that they all reflect aspects of THE ONE GOD and therefore transcend belief, dogma, doctrine or denomination. I have embraced this practice, holding my personal guru (Jesus) in my mind while chanting these sacred names and have experienced great benefit from this practice. I find that chanting the sacred names helps me to calm my monkey mind and to find the peaceful calm within that I had previously found to be elusive and nearly impossible to attain. Additionally, I have found that I have come to know more deeply the love within that is more reflective of my truest nature. I have found that life flows more freely and effortlessly. I know more freedom and joy and my external relationships more closely reflect a deep and abiding love.
So, here is a little You Tube clip of George Harrison engaged in his own practice of Bhakti- devotion to the beloved….and a great way to get started on your own path to finding the fulfillment of love: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7eFQMakhDE
Authentic Freedom Ministries