Let’s explore bhakti together, by first asking ourselves a few opening questions…
What does the word ‘love’ mean to you?
Is it something you have?
Something you want?
Something you are?
Think of the love you have for your parents. Then look beyond. The real parent, says Tantra, is love. The Tantric tradition teaches that the entire web of life is held together by love. Expansive. Boundless. Pervasive. Embracing.
What would it mean for you to experience that love? Or rather, experience yourself as that love?
The yoga tradition has many pathways of practice. One such pathway, which is devoted to this is called bhakti; a word that comes from the root word bhaj, which means “to adore or worship God.” Think of bhakti as a pathway of devotion, a practice of love for love’s sake.
Looking back into history, bhakti evolved as an alternative to more ascetic pathways of practice.
Prior to its emergence, yoga – which was often seen as a means to overcome the mind-body afflictions that obscure our true nature – was presented in the spirit of struggle. In contrast this, and in contrast to the caste system that dominated India at the time, bhakti offered an alternative. It emphasised tolerance and inclusivity. It said, ‘whoever you are, you are welcome here’.
The dynamics of spiritual practice need not be antagonistic. Far from it. Bhakti’s invitation is to explore the ways we are already love, and have this be the pathway to union. Chant, sing, pray, write, dance or meditate. Worship the deity of your choosing. Have your life being an offering to that which you believe in. Have life be the alter, devotion to life the practice.
Would you like to learn more about Bhakti?
Bhakti Yoga is one of 10 modules we will be exploring on our upcoming 300h Embodied Shakti Yoga Teacher Training, beginning September. If you feel the yearning to establish a more heart-based connection with life and practice, to experience more often the feeling you get whenever something beautiful strikes your heart, click here to find out more about the opportunity.