Bhakti yoga means devotional yoga. The word ‘bhakti’ means ‘devotion’. This is the highest level of yoga.
In the Vedas, bhakti yoga is described as the topmost yoga system. And it is the only system where there are actual love and devotion. And this, of course, will bring us into the most intimate relationship with Bhagavan or the Supreme Being.
Yoga is the eternal science of the soul, and that is the science that we all need to study. So all the yoga systems are designed to bring us back to the spiritual realm, they are not designed to keep us here. In other words, yoga brings us to that perfection of life.
The bhakti yoga process actually guides us step by step, slowly, in a lifestyle that makes it so I can leave behind all the things that should be left behind and I can actually take into my life, embrace, embody the things that are going to really be good for me, the spirit soul.
When you really learn the pure teachings of yoga you realize, “I know what to do now. I need to live a lifestyle that cultivates this loving relationship with the Supreme.” And that’s the process of bhakti yoga. It’s called sadhana bhakti: bhakti yoga in practice.
Bhakti yoga in practice
It’s a lifestyle where you act in a certain way according to the Vedic instructions, according to the instructions of the spiritual master. Every day you live a certain lifestyle and by doing this, you become purified of all these contaminations, all these desires that are getting in the way, you see? Your vision opens up, your understanding opens up because the Supreme Being gives you this vision and understanding. With this understanding, you gradually start desiring to live such a pure lifestyle.
In the beginning, you don’t desire this. You still want to be the Lord, the master. But when you’re purified, you start having these desires. For example, before getting purified, you have all these weird cravings. You’ve got this sugar craving and the coffee craving and the alcohol and the cigarette craving and all these crazy cravings that are bad for you.
Why? Because you’re contaminated. You’re polluted. And out of that comes the cravings which you think, “I gotta have it!” But when you purify yourself through – in this example, nutrition – and you get all those impurities out, the cravings go away.
“You want sugar?”
“No thanks, I don’t eat that stuff. I don’t want it.”
“How about a cup of coffee?”
“No, man. I used to drink that stuff. I don’t touch it anymore.”
“How about a beer? Let’s go get a beer.”
“No, thanks. No. It doesn’t have a place in my life. Got nothing to do with me.”
The spiritual purification of bhakti yoga
Things can change and what… the problem is many people think, “I could never do that.” How do you know? You didn’t do it! Live the lifestyle that purifies you. When you become pure, it automatically happens. And that’s the process of Bhakti yoga.
Stick with the things that purify you. Start with the warm lemon water and then you take it… do your exercise and this…. All these things. You know, it’ll change you. You don’t change it, it changes you.
So the process of Bhakti yoga is the spiritual purification that changes you. And along the way, your health improves, your mind, your mental condition. Your heart gets cleansed, the hardness goes away. You become very compassionate, very tolerant.
You see each other in different ways. You see all living entities, not just, “This tree,” you say, “Oh, this my brother.” You talk to the tree in a way that helps the tree. You learn how to act in this world to help others, not destroy others. It’s amazing!
Finding the right path
If you just know, if you only know this much, “I’m doing the right thing with my life,” that takes away so much anxiety. If you just know that you’re doing the right thing… You know it. It’s not like, “I think I’m doing the right thing. I hope I’m doing the right thing. I hope I made the right choice.” If you know, “Phew! Now I know what to do.” And then it’s just a matter of doing it. And this system works! It’s not like it might work, I think it works, it works for some people, not for other people. It really works!
When we come into the material world, we are given the knowledge and help that we need, but we often ignore that. Our intuition tells us, “This is what you should do.” But our ego just says, “Nah I don’t want to do that. Arhhhhh, I don’t have time. It’s not for me! That’s for other guys. It’s stupid. I’m not going to do it,” you see? But when we get beaten down enough, maybe we find out, “Oh gee. Maybe that’s… maybe I should do something different.”
Like when people get cancer, don’t they think: maybe I should change my life? “Gee, what should I do? Give up coffee? Yeah, I think I will.” Change your lifestyle? “Oh yeah, I think I will.” Some people. Some people don’t do it anyway. Just take chemo and keep going. But anyway…
We have the opportunity. Yoga is for us. Where do you want to go? Most people don’t know. But with education, you can learn. It’s all about education.