Prapatti and Bhakti Yoga
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2007-09-05
Devotion is a calm, intelligent expression of love for the Deity. Emotion means excitement. Create a closeness to the Deity and an effective mechanism is developed. Meditation requires a proper foundation in bhakti. A Shum meditation is offered helping distinguish between emotion, excitement and devotion. When we meditate upon this mamsani we are seeing our superconscious which will eventually come fully into existence after we attain imkaif.
Our Master Course Daily Lessons, "Merging With Siva," is currently in Chapter 21.
"The yoga of pure devotion is found at the beginning, the middle and the end of the path. Merging with Siva is more and more a deeply felt experiential reality when the soul gives of itself to Siva inwardly and outwardly in unabashed devotion. Prapatti, (surrender) truly is the key that unlocks the love needed as merger increases as the years pass by and, as Satguru Yogaswami said, "Love pours forth to melt the very stones." Bhakti yoga is not an intellectual study. It is a practice. It is also not an emotional experience. It is a devotional experience. There is a difference, which we will come to understand. Bhakti yoga is not a cure-all, nor a means to fast enlightenment. Rather, it is the foundation for enlightenment. It is not a technique. Nor is it a magic mantra. It is a way of life. The transformation that comes from living in the state of bhakti yoga is the softening of the heart."
So, I had an interesting experience; let me figure out when it was. It was last November in Malaysia, we attended a seminar; it was on Hinduism and business. So our part was purely religious. We gave a talk about "Work is Worship." And, approaching whatever we do including our time in the business world, including our time in the office, as worship. But, what struck me was there were some other speakers who were, shall we say, traditional inspirational business speakers. So, they talk and they talk and you get excited. You know they're, and before you know it you want to do something. You really don't know what you want to do you know, but you feel that I should do something you know. And so that made me realize a motivational speaker, how they work and how they stimulate emotion. Because you know you get excited; that's what emotion means: excitement.
So Gurudeva's saying here that you know, we're not trying for emotion, we're not trying to get all excited in our bhakti practices, rather, we're trying for devotion which is a quiet, a quieter, non-excited type of feeling. A love for the Deity which is not full of excitement but full of calm, shall we say. It's a more profound and therefore it's a more constant experience because anything emotional goes up and down. You know, we get all excited and then if we get excited maybe we'll get depressed. You know it goes the opposite way or, you get very excited, then you might get very depressed. So definitely there's a big difference. And we'll look at that in a minute in the Shum, also this idea of devotion is different from emotion.
"External worship, bhakti yoga, is taught first on the spiritual path, because it produces a softened, mellow heart. It is to waste the guru's time to give training in meditation and contemplation before the heart has been softened through bhakti yoga. The patient guru will wait until this has happened within the devotee. Otherwise, any accomplishment attained through intense raja yoga practices will not be sustained. And the problems that arise within the devotee's subconscious mind -- should he be taught raja yoga before the proper preparation has been mastered -- will go back on the guru. The guru will then have to act as the psychiatrist to solve the problems arising from the forced awakening. Whereas a mature bhaktar takes such problems, or negative karmas, which are sometimes aroused as a result of deep meditation, to the temple Deities, placing them at their feet to be dissolved. This will not happen for the devotee who has not experienced living in the state of bhakti yoga, because the relationship has not yet been established between himself and the Gods. Therefore, the wise guru starts his devotee at the beginning of the path, not in the middle."
So this is good advice and as it points out in a little bit, unfortunately it's not always followed in the West these days. There are consequences. But, in terms of how Gurudeva used this principle in earlier years when Hindu temples were just getting established in the West he, for those in the West, he gave us a strong emphasis on getting to know Lord Ganesha. In fact that was all everyone did for a few years. Made Ganesha a good friend and learned to develop a closeness as it says here. And once you develop a closeness with the Deity -- and Lord Ganesha's the easiest Deity to become close to -- then, you can take your problems to the Deity. And because you feel a closeness there is a mechanism at work there. If you don't feel a closeness and you take your problems nothing happens. You go away with your problems. But, if you have a closeness, you take your problems to the Deity, you go to the temple and something happens inside and you get insights into your problems or your problems totally go away and you leave the temple and you can't remember what your problem was. It's was such an effective process. But, that whole process only works -- as Gurudeva's pointing out -- once you create a closeness.
"Many Hindu teachers in the West teach purely advaitic meditation with no theism or religious practice, but most who have come to the West from India were raised in Hindu homes. They have within them a firm religious, cultural foundation for yoga. Many do not pass the religious culture on to their Western devotees, however. In an orthodox Hindu community they would most likely teach in a more traditional way. Advaita philosophy is appealing to the Westerner. It does not require a change in lifestyle."
So, Gurudeva goes on, I won't, we don't have time to read the whole thing. But, to explain it, not a good idea to skip the devotional practice. And we talked about before, can run into problems one of the being you end up in the subconscious mind and get stuck there and just become aware of your personal problems through meditation. And of course, if that happens, you'll stop meditating. Cause, who wants to look at problems all the time. So if you start meditation without a proper foundation of devotion then that's one of the possibilities. And certainly there's a lot of that going on. I keep running into new teachers every few months that are teaching meditation in weekend seminars in the West. You know, just two days and you get initiated, and you're set for life. So easy, you know. But of course, not traditional. That's Gurudeva's point, it's not traditional and it can cause problems.
So that relates to one of the basic Shum meditations which are called mamsani. This is the one for March.
La, lam, laf and lamf are the four words that are developed and it brings up this same idea about the difference between devotion and meditation but says it an another way which I thought would complement it nicely.
"La, lam, laf, lamf.
"These four images take us into the four states of being by naming them. In the English language we only have one word for being, our great being. But the Shum-Tyeif language names four states of being. This mamsani brings together these four names. They actually name four vibratory rates of our being. We begin to meditate upon this mamsani by reading from the top left clockwise. The first image is la. La names the being of the physical body, or the feeling of the vibrations emanating out of our physical body.
"The next image in the mamsani, lam, names the vibration of our emotional-intellectual nature, or the being of our emotions and thoughts.
"The next image is laf. Laf is the name for the vibration, the radiation, the shakti of the individual soul, as experienced through the actinodic causal sheath, vijnanamaya kosha, in the fifth dimension of the mind. When one is aware within the center of the spine, laf, an actinodic vibration, comes forth from the soul. This vibration oozes out through the physical body. This feeling is called laf. Laf comes into power through simshumbisi when the forces are transmuted from the first three instinctive-intellectual mind force centers (meaning chakras) and blends with the refined forces of the fourth chakra.
"After the imkaif experience, the beautiful shakti that begins to emanate and become stronger and stronger through the years is called lamf. Lamf is the vibration of the energies of the actinic body of a realized being, which develops and begins to grow after many imkaif experiences have been had.
"La, lam, laf, lamf are four vibratory rates of energies which can be experienced singularly or in any combination. For example, one can feel the vibration of someone's physical body and emotional body, be they healthy or unhealthy, both at the same time. When an individual has matured inwardly and realized God, the most refined shakti, called lamf, can also be felt.
"This most important mamsani tells our story, the story of our states of being. When we meditate upon it, we are seeing our superconscious existence, which will eventually come fully into existence after we have attained imkaif.
"We experience some days when divine energies flow through our bodies, when Siva's cosmic energy sparks our mind. Now we have a name for this state of being, this energy: laf. Laf describes our state of mind when Siva's superconscious, creative knowledge enriches our vision and the vision of others, improving the quality of life for all. When we experience our subconscious, emotional feelings -- good, bad and mixed -- we now have a name to call it: lam. And when we are only aware of the external world and our physical body we have a name for that too: la.
"It is important in securing your unfoldment, where it is, that you really are very much aware of the difference in vibration between lam and laf. For one is often taken for the other. Very often lam is emotionally taken to be laf, especially when bhakti yoga and chanting is done by unfolded people. This accounts for religious fervor and emotionalism."
So, that's a little deep but it ties in there in the idea that we want to distinguish between lam and laf in that terminology or between emotion, excitement and devotion which is calm, love and intelligence from the sub-superconscious and strive for the latter. So we don't have a lot of emotion in our activities, you know we don't get all excited.
Sometimes I end up at the youth groups. Sai Baba chanting youth groups. You know and they get excited. You know they don't chant in a calm manner, it gets very excited. And everyone, of course, gets uplifted but it's emotional. So it will dissipate cause it's just an emotional excitement. It's not truly an awakening of devotion, -- it's more, well some devotion's there -- but it has the element, just when the youth do it, not adults. But the youth get excited. That sense of emotionalism comes into the singing. Whereas, if you hear someone sing Devaram for example, there's no emotion involved. It's more just a pure devotional practice. That's why some who like modern music feel the that traditional Devaram and all are too boring because there's not enough emotional content present. But it's just a different style of music.
Well, thank you very much. Have a wonderful phase.
[End of transcript.]