Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!
The Narada Bhakti Sutra is our guide for a while… the nature of Love (with the capital 'ell') and a full exploration of it. As always, you are encouraged to seek out the full text from Chinmaya Publications (links in side-bar); but for those who prefer e-readers, this version is recommended. Whilst awareness and interest can be raised by these posts on AV-blog, they cannot substitute for a thorough reading and contemplation...and practice!
We read that the siddha is one who has totally immersed their self into the Divine Love. As Bhakti is the path, the form of That One is called here as Naaryaayana. Living in such a high state of bliss, the siddha may appear to others to have lost all wits. On the other hand, majority devotees who have yet to raise themselves to that exalted state are advised to 'stick to map', use the shaastra for the signposts and Gurus as guides, where the signs are not clear or language too obscure. However, not unsurprisingly, given Mankind's tendency to want the 'quick fix' and desire to live the Life Divine without necessarily putting in effort, the question may arise as to why in fact one cannot simply go around dancing and singing the Lord's virtues without a care for else in life? Having stated the necessity for following the injunctions of scripture, Sri Narada anticipates this question and quickly says;
अन्यथा पतित्याशाङ्कया ||13||
Anyathaa paatityaashaangkayaa ||13||
Or else there is the fear of a fall (from spiritual virtue).
There is no beating around the bush with this one! Those who desire strongly to swim like their Olympic heroes are advised, "no diving in the deep end, first learn how to float - or you run the risk of drowning."
The world is ever present, pulling and sucking at our various senses, appealing to our baser natures and deep-rooted vaasanas. It wants us back with it. To rise above the level the world balances out at, to keep spirits above the 'water line' and be able to breath the air of Divinity, we must practice a number of different strokes. We may be able to act the part, to pose as one mad with the Love Divine, but we will be caught out when we cannot deny our various weaknesses. The deception does little harm to those around us - but if we are truly in search of that connection, we are deceiving ourselves. Acting the part does not give us the desired result. Posing in swimming costume and traipsing around the edges of the pool makes no Olympian of us!
True bhakti always fills the devotee with poise, peace, fulfilment, a generally balanced disposition. One who puts on the appearance of these soon gets pinched and punched and any semblance of tranquillity evaporates. For as long as we are not truly living the Divine Life, we must follow the markers and carry out the exercises which build our spiritual muscle. The way of the spiritual traveller is fraught with pitfalls - the teacher and the teachings are our 'water-wings'.
In the event of reaching the Divine Union, are there still things of the world of objects which must be attended?
लोको-पि तावदेव किन्तु भोजनादि-व्यापारस्त्वाशरीरधारणावधि ||14||
Loko.api taavadeva kintu bhojanaadi-vyaapaarastvaashariiradhaaraNaavadhi||14||
The worldly duties in the various social contacts are also to be performed, only to that extent (that there is still perception of the world); but activities such as eating etc., indeed will continue as long as the body exists.
It is a matter of praarabdha that we have manifested the physical form. Until such time as that destiny is exhausted in this life, even for one who has attained the Divine Life, the body must be serviced as the vehicle of the spirit. Therefore, food and water will still be necessary - cannot be avoided indeed. However, the higher one's spirit soars, the less interaction is required with things and events of the world; that said, there will still be certain circumstances where interaction is required. These are most likely to be of the nature of devotional services, yaatras (pilgrimages).
All activity, though, when undertaken in the Divine state, is merely to see out the duration of karmic debt and setting aright the balance of praarabdha. The bhakta understands this and has no attachment to the body or events which carry him or her through to the completion of this life.
Thus ends section two of chapter one of the Narada Bhakti Sutra.