The path of devotion or Bhakti (in Sanskrit) consists in the turning of our heart towards its celestial origin. This raising of the emotional being into a state of spiritual love is an essential aid on our journey to wisdom. When we unite with the Transcendental Being within our heart, we can feel the grandeur of this sacred Love and its manifestation in the form of a “rapture” and an “ecstasy”. This is one of the most fulfilling and transformative experiences that we can have and it completely renovates and replenishes our capacity to love.
To achieve and sustain this Union we must understand the nature of our heart. We all know how our emotions swing to the extremes of a pendulum of attraction and repulsion, likes and dislikes, affection and resentment, seemingly provoked by the smallest of events. Even with our closest family, friends and partners, we feel how the duality of the emotional being can create difficulties. But despite this condition in our lives, we long for love because when it is present we find meaning and we feel complete. However, in this search of this feeling, we are faced with the fact that the intensity diminishes and its eternal presence seems to be an illusion.
This dual state of our emotional being contrasts with the ideal nature of our heart, which is unified, peaceful, luminous and loves with freedom. The passage from our actual emotional reality to the elevated heart involves a process of psychological investigation, healing and the recreation of the being. First it is necessary to see how we have been affected by the different challenges in our lives. Second, we should find ways to heal, calm and repair our forgotten and buried emotional damages. Finally, after this process, we should create room for the birth of the inner child consciousness whose nature incarnates innocence. With this newly established unity of truth, peace and purity in the heart, we are ready to enter into communion with the Sacred reality.
This Transcendental reality can be conceived in diverse ways. We can perceive It as an “impersonal” reality: the unnamable, the void, an ideal without form or a positive zero. However, looking from within the purity of our heart the Transcendental reality appears “personal”. We Feel It as our Father: powerful, just, wise and protective. Or as our Mother: loving, compassionate, creative and caring. Or as our Friend: unconditional, trustworthy, supportive and an ally. Or as our Beloved: passionate, intense, playful, and capable of sacrifice. This last way of Feeling the sacred reality is one of the most poignant. For the Lover only asks to receive a response to his devotion in the form of a love that is eternal and absolute.
The relationship with the Sacred reality through the heart and its pure devotion permits us to go beyond the divisions of the mind and experience the ecstasy of existence. This Transcendental reality responds to the various ways that the heart decides to love it, and at the same time, within It’s nature, It is all and more than its manifestations.
Our love for the Transcendental Self has been expressed in rites and rituals since the ancient times. Worship is one of the first demonstrations of devotion, although only when the external practice changes into an inner adoration then the true Bhakti begins. The ideal of the ritual is to activate the elements of the emotional being, to kindle our inner response, connecting it to a more elevated reality. The symbol of the sacred in a ritual, whether it be a temple, a statue, a master, a sacred image, a flower…, is here to act as a representation of a transcendental reality and should serve to lead us in this direction. The archetype (ideal or object of devotion) that we choose should be something that is capable of awakening in us a deeper adoration, it gives us the opportunity to become full of humility and experience the spirit of the inner child.
However, the elevation of the emotional being and the meeting with the Sacred reality requires a third element for the complete realization of the heart: the integration of this path of love in life. The Bhakta (the practitioner of Bhakti) will have reached his/her fulfillment when he/she is capable of consecrating and elevating his/her thoughts and works towards a higher consciousness. Our aim is to be conscious of this devotion not only in meditation or contemplation, but also in active life. And for this we should integrate the vibrant spirit of grace, beauty and delight from the heart even into the smallest of actions.
The elevation of the emotional being, the devotion to the Transcendental reality and its integration in the world enables us to transform our personality; it teaches us the value of a sweet surrender, and it shows us the path to learn to love completely and unconditionally others and the world.