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LOVE AND DEVOTION
(Extract from Satsang book vol.5, n°28)

Devotion (bhakti) leads to the highest love for the divine (prema).
Prema leads to liberation (mukti).
This is the highest spiritual stage known to humankind.
Therefore, this spiritual bhakti path is the way of pure love.

In this present age, which is called the Kali Yuga by the Hindu scriptures, humankind has been thrown into the darkness of selfishness and ignorance of the Divine. The path of love and devotion is an easy and natural way for man to follow and lift himself out of the illusion of ignorance. If one feels intense love for the Divine, even for a moment, then the divine power sends such a great impulse in return that the heart of the aspirant is showered with grace. This is the turning point and he will be carried forward by the surge of magnetic love from within himself towards God. This is the recorded experience of many saints, sages and spiritual aspirants throughout the ages and in all religions.

Love is natural and we can see it manifesting everywhere in nature.
We should have an understanding of the energy of love.
It is the strongest energy in the universe.
It creates the desire to be associated with another, to merge oneself in the love of another and feel whole.

Physical unity is its lower form, pure love between the husband and wife is another, the desire to do service to one's fellow beings yet another. A much higher form of love is the selfless love of the mother for the child. A mother will care for her child and even give her life to protect it. Whatever wrong the child may commit, the true mother is always there to take the child in her arms to give comfort and advice. She expects no return; only she wants the child to learn and to be happy. Yet devotion to and love for God is the highest form of love. If you love the highest all other forms of love will slowly fall away. You don't have to give anything up. By loving a form of God the small and petty illusions and problems of the world will fall away from you because your mind is involved in the highest. Then your unfulfilled hunger for the love of others will automatically be cast aside. Divine love will fill your heart and you will love all beings without expectation of love in return for them.

We should realize that the Divine is in everything.

When we desire to love, although we may not understand it, it is really our natural desire to unite with the Divine.

If you have ever fallen intensely in love you will know the longing, the feelings of hopelessness, the sudden joys - like this, if you can have supreme devotion for God you will experience Oneness with your chosen divine ideal. All our lives we experience problems, difficulties and the pain of unfulfilled wishes. The fastest way to free ourselves from all these anxieties is to go direct to the Divine who is the centre of all and who activates all.

The Divine is pure love.

If we approach that pure love all our small problems will leave us because of the immensity of God's love.

How can you feel the bhakti state? How can you be devoted? First, I will tell you a spiritual truth. The impulse to go on the spiritual path and to feel God's presence intensely must come from another highly evolved soul. So it is good to meet saints or spiritually evolved people or think about them intensely.

If you are gifted enough to find a spiritual master who gives you that spark of inner love you can go quickly towards the Divine. After you have experienced the feeling to start to love God, it is up to you to do a little work. Think of your love like a small seedling that should grow into a big tree. Take great care of the little plant because it is a delicate newborn. Take care of it from morning to night and give it regular water. Shade it from the hot sun and take care that parasites do not destroy it or other animals do not trample or eat it. The soil, pot and fence you shelter your seedling of love with represent the spiritual environment you must create to nurture your devotion and make it grow.

This seedling is your new devotional Self.
Water it with care. Shelter it from the burning rays of worldliness, which will dry up your young faith in the Divine. Do not allow it to be spoiled by gossip and lower ideas.

After some time of spiritual practices your seedling will grow into a lovely strong tree with flowers that give divine fragrance to others and ripe fruits that can give the taste of real devotion to other aspirants.

People practise abishekams, pujas and other rituals, singing sacred hymns, fire sacrifices, bhajans and meditation in order to feel divine love. As you steadily and regularly become involved in some practice, your devotion will help your mind to develop. When the mind is filled with love, you will act towards others accordingly. You feel a reverence and respect in your heart for the Divine and also towards others because the Divine lives also within them. The mind become calm and peaceful, accepting and tolerant.

In order to reach such stages of love and equanimity some kind of spiritual practice is essential. Take up the practice that is most suited to your nature. As the mind becomes steadily immersed in the waters of pure love, it will be relieved from worldly desire and sexual attraction. It will be attracted more and more towards the great force that is God. Devotion will help you understand what is true and what is false. Then it will raise you up from the material and temporary worldly life towards the divine life.

Those who have not understood bhakti become entangled in everything in the world! They will become confused, they will not have peace of mind and indecision will cloud their thought-power. There will be no clarity, only the racing desire to possess more and more material goods, to try to find pleasure in bodily relationships and externals.

Some people feel that only they are great and very special. It is ego that prevents them calling the Divine. They are missing a wonderful opportunity. Only after many births of chasing emptiness will they begin to realize the futility of chasing the impermanent. Only then will they realize that it is the Divine energy, which lives deep in the core of the soul of all beings, which is the true reality.

And then they will search for Him.

If you genuinely go towards Him, it is a spiritual law and reality that He will come racing towards you, ready to take you on to the highest stage, which is your birthright.

All souls must eventually return to God the Mother and Father.
Some will start sooner and some later.

Some want to experience this round of birth and death innumerable times before going towards true happiness. Take up the opportunity to reach peace as soon as you can. Why do you want to keep watching the same old movie again and again?

Devotion and pure love are not exclusive only to a few. They are the sacred experiences that belong to all human beings. Whatever your race, colour, language or status it does not matter. Everyone is entitled to know devotion. Your culture, behaviour, actions and the way you perform rituals in your society may be different, but devotion is common to everyone. It manifests in the same basic way in the hearts and minds of all.

The Divine knows no discrimination.
All are equal in the eyes of God.

In the same way, to those who are really devoted to an ideal or a form of God, there will be no sense of discrimination, division or classification for they only see the ideal in everything. Devotion and pure love flow through the blood in the same way for everyone. Humankind has created various religions, dogmas, languages and strata of society but these are all the inventions of man's mind. For the true bhakta there is no status, no race and no dogma or doctrine. He or she knows only love!

Everyone is one family and one religion.
Practices may differ but devotion is universal.

If we can love God, who exists in everything, everywhere, we can love all beings in the world. Only then can we truly do something good in this world. Then we will see the Divine in everything. The heart will become a spring of love and every being will be seen as the Divine. Where does this love come from? It flows out of a pure and clean mind, which has only good thoughts. It radiates from a heart glowing with good feelings towards even our enemies.

Bhakti can be practised at every moment of your life. Practise it through your eyes - see only good things in all with loving eyes. Practise it through your ears - allow yourself to hear only what is good and useful to you on your path and become deaf to negativity…practise it through your body by doing good to others and occupying your hands in holy actions such as pujas or serving the needy. If you constantly do all these, true devotion will shine radiantly from within you. True devotion and love can be seen in the eyes and face. It emanates from within and shows on the face.

This is genuine beauty.

The body and mind totally involved in and dedicated to God are the mark of a true bhakta. To experience true devotion is a gift from God. One who is really established in the high state of bhakti forgets all desire, forgets the worldly illusion and ultimately forgets himself too.

There is nothing he will say is his own.
All is God.
He gives whatever he has to others.
He is full of sweetness and treats all with respect.
He speaks with devotion to everyone.
Whatever he does is connected with devotion and love.
He laughs and cries - both with devotion.

When he talks about his love for the Divine his flesh shivers with devotion and he feels God inside with love coming from every pore.

Normally the mind tends towards the material world. The devotional and loving mind goes in an opposite direction. Such a mind hears divine names in a state of ecstasy.

When a person who loves the Divine cooks and eats, he does so with devotion. Even sleeping and waking become divine acts.
Every minute becomes worship.

In this present dark age, when it is difficult to find the light of true love, the path of devotion is easy and natural for many people to practise. If you want genuine happiness and wish to lead a pure life, devotional practices will give you these. Remember, those who are selfish and think that everything belongs to them will find it difficult to practise any kind of sadhana. First you need to realize the value of hearing about spirituality. Understand that this is indeed a gift. If you are genuine, the divine force will provide you with a suitable environment, good company and a spiritual guide.

How can you reach a state where there is an end to all of life's problems? An end to all ailments, sorrows, difficulties and disappointments? What are the requirements to reach such a state in your lifetime? All that you need is devotion and true love. How can you develop devotion? Establish a relationship with goodness, create an environment with loving and pure vibrations, have contact with evolved people who are themselves immersed in devotion and who have love in their hearts and listen to their helpful and inspiring words of guidance and advice.

What more could you ask - peace and the highest love is there for the taking.
Reach out - take them.

Swami Premananda

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