The Bhakti approaches spirituality along what is sometimes seen as the simplest path but which, in effect, is one of the most difficult. It requires selfless love and a devotional attitude that is sufficient to overcome all life’s obstacles – the path that Jesus and other great teachers have indicated as ‘the Way.’
The Bhakti loves. He practises expanding that emotion from the limited and personal feelings of the heart, to the limitless expanses of universal love for all things. To such a person Love and God are synonymous. Not only does love become the most intense emotion, but love and loving kindness dictate his day- to- day activities, his moods, his goals, and provides the source of his inspiration.
To develop greater love capacity is one thing, but to have the dedication, the wisdom and the appropriate expression of that love, is more difficult. All human experiences of the heart and all human emotions present us with many emotional dilemmas, many of which indicate the difference, and sometimes the chasm, between the ideal and the material worlds.
There are many types of human love, such as the love that will cause valiant deeds or displays courage in protecting another –the love that ensures a patient and reliable friendship – the love that is intellectually exciting in a meeting of minds – love that is sympathetic and healing, forgiving – love that is commanding and demanding – love that is based on sharing – love that is passionate, intense – love that focuses on the good of society – love that is quiet and devotional.
However, the love of the Bhakti is above and beyond any expectation of a human recipient – it is an emotion which embraces admiration, expectation, and spiritual devotion often first directed to the Master or Guru but which intensifies as a religious fervour and love for God.
We all seek to absorb and identify with the object of our love and to feel at one with the beloved. To the Bhakti, God is the ultimate Beloved. Expressions of love, whether in song, dance or written prose although seeming to refer to human, romantic love, are addressed to God. Love is seen as the magical key to spiritual life. To discover that God resides in the Heart is to reach the “Mecca” of the devotee – just as to realise God in the Mind is the diamond treasure of the Raja Yogi.
The spiritual devotee possesses a rare fullness of heart and spiritual passion directed towards God likened to the romance of the soul seeking union or marriage with the Creator. In Christian terms it is known as the ‘Mystic Marriage’.
We may not all understand the potential satisfaction of human emotions of love being fulfilled in the manner of the spiritual devotee, but we can all agree upon the very real need for our emotions to be cultivated and exercised in such a way that loving kindness dominates the lesser feelings of which we are capable.