Bhakti comes from the word “Bhaga” – generosity, sharing, distributing. The root of both Bhakti and Bhagavan (love and the Lord) is the same. So Bhakti Yoga is love as a practice of yoga – a sharing of love in all the connections we make in the world: with ourselves, in our relationships, with the world.
Bhaga also gives us one of my favourite Sanskrit words: Bhoga – to enjoy. When we fall in love, we are in a state of delight, our burdens feel lifted and joy floods though us. But at other times joy can seem illusive, belonging only to others, to the lucky. We may being passing through a period of despair where love seems truly lost.
On the surface of our lives we juggle many roles, commitments, challenges and disappointments that seem anything but joyful bhoga. And yet even in such times we find we can still laugh (if inappropriately) and be moved even as all seems bleak. Just as the sun doesn’t stop being in the sky just because the clouds obscure it, so too love and joy are never absent even when the challenges on the surface of our lives veil its presence.
When we can pause, slow down and look beneath the surface experience, then maybe we can start to see what is behind the clouds. Can we see heaven, the miraculous, in the tender beauty of a wildflower? If we can, then we can access a certain deep, mature and abiding contentment with all things just as they are. As we mediate on this deep contentment we can go deeper still to a richer, more ancient and eternal bliss. Just as the eternal presence of the sun silently witnesses the turning of history, the coming and going of fashion, drama and the generations, so too your deepest nature silently witnesses and infuses your whole being with its light. Love, bliss, benevolence – these are the substance of who you are; you have nothing to gain, you have received all this already. But do you allow it to infuse you? Truly, in every thought, word and action? This is the path of the Bhakta, the Bhakti Yogi: to live from a deep intention in life, with all its complicated interactions, with the aim of sharing and distributing from this rich foundation.
Whilst outer experiences of enjoyment (bhoga) such as the most exquisite taste, aroma or angelic face can awaken this deep abiding sense, that awoken feeling is within you and always was. We may use outer bhoga to be the catalyst for the rediscovery our lost foundation and having discovered that our very nature is this ancient and abiding bhakti it moves back out into the world through our actions and our perceptions and we start to find more and more bhoga – we see the exquisite essence of every sensation and experience as being of the same eternal nature. We become Bhagavan: the One who shares and distributes Love and Joy.
Take note of the moments of Bhoga in your life – the taste of chocolate or the experience of your favorite asana on the yoga mat and in that moment go a little deeper and find the ancient and abiding grandmother of that surface sense. Can you then find that same ancestor in the less favored flavor or asana?
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