Right now we are in a confusing situation. We inherently know that we should be happy, peaceful, joyful and satisfied. Yet we are confronted by realities which constantly limit and baffle that natural impulse. Why is it like this?
Because we have placed our egos, our souls, into an unnatural environment.
The main effort of Eastern Culture, rooted in Ancient India, is to deal with this crucial situation of human existence. To figure out how to place our egos/identities/souls into its natural environment so that there is no block or limitation working against what we all inherently and deeply know is our natural birthright of happiness, peace, satisfaction, joy, and even ecstacy.
“Yoga” is the broad title given to the various attempts and paths Eastern civilization has discovered or invented for this purpose. The very word means to link and combine. All types of yogas attempts to link up our selves back to our original and natural environment.
The yogas discovered and established in ancient India are progressive by their very nature. They are also individualised and personal by nature – as opposed to the experience of “religion” primarily as a social and organized phenomena in the West. One yoga progresses into the next. First of all there is physical yoga to make the body healthy and free of obstruction. Then there is mental yoga, so that the mind, now not needing to worry about the health of the body, can become free from distraction and diversion. Then there is transcendental yoga where the empowered mind is put to contemplation upon transcendental subject matter. This category of yogas progresses from simple contemplations of nature (the mental level), to highly intellectual logical gymnastics on metaphysical subjects (the intellectual level), and finally to dealing directly with the soul itself, directly with the feelings and emotions of our very “heart.”
This pinnacle of yogas is called Bhakti-Yoga. It is the path of re-linking with our natural spiritual environment by way of our heart, feelings, and emotions.
This is how our guide Sri Rupa Goswami described the effects of pure devotion to Krishna.
sri krishna karshini ca sa.
First of all, when you start to practice it, anguish will subside (klesh-aghni). And as the suffering of karma subsides, auspiciousness shall arise (shubhada). So the first side effect of even beginning to practice krishna-bhakti is that bad karmas will evaporate and good karmas will fructify.
The more sincerely and deeply you practice Krishna-bhakti the more these traits will become noticeable and overwhelming.
What is Krishna-bhakti? It is the yoga of reconnecting your very spiritual self to the supreme reservoir of bliss – Sri Krishna. This connection is made at first by the practice of doing things solely and wholly for the sake of pleasing the reservoir of pleasure, Sri Krishna. The less we have self-oriented motivations in our practice, the more we simply want to become a wave in the ocean of spiritual bliss within the reservoir of Sri Krishna, simply adding to the divine ecstasy – to that extent our practice is more “pure” and will produce more marked and tangible results.
Once you practice bhakti with this type of purity, you will become “perfect” – this means that you will no longer “practice” love of Godhead, it instead becomes awakened as an intrinsic part of your very core ego and spiritual identity, your soul, your “bhava.” This stage of bhakti (divine love) is very, very, very uncommon in the material world (su-dur-labha). And one who attains this uncommon state of enlightenment feels that even “enlightenment” and “liberation” are trivial things in comparison.
Once pure bhakti for Krishna has awakened it’s root in your very being, it will gradually blossom. When it fully blossoms it is called Prema. The pure bliss and ecstasy experienced by the blossoming of prema drenches your soul completely in a singularity of infinitely compressed and intensified joy. The concentrated fragrance of the flower of Prema attracts Krishna Himself to come searching for YOU.
- Vic DiCara