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 now move into chapter three, section one of the text, wherein Sri Narada tells us first;
tSya> saxnain gayNTyacayaR>.34.
TasyaaH saadhanaani gaayantya-aachaaryaaH ||34||
Ancient teachers sing differently upon the means of developing this devotion.
Having discussed the fact that mere bookish learning amounts to little of value in the progression of the spirit, the Guru now alerts us that there are going to be words on saadhana.
By now, here at AV-blog, you have become familiar with at least this one Sanskrit word. Saadhana is the daily inculcation and practice of what is heard/read. Every serious student will impose upon themselves some level of discipline in order to move through the different levels of the subject they have chosen. Every spiritual aspirant must do this also. Every one can pick up a text on arithmetic; but it will mean nothing unless the sums are practiced by ourselves and an understanding of the logic and mechanics of how they work is properly settled in our mind. The very same is true of Vedanta, and here it is said of Bhakti. What is more, Narada-ji again points to other Masters of the craft, making the shishya aware that there can be many voices on the matter and all have validity, even where difference is perceived. He continues;
tÄu iv;yTyagat! s'gTyagaCc.35.
Tattu vishayatyaagaat sangatyaagaachcha ||35||
That (Bhakti) indeed is (found through) renunciation of sense-objects and giving up attachment to other beings.
Despite all the variations provided by the different Masters, one thing is a common to them all; the ability of mankind to Love (with the capital 'ell'). How to maintain such Love within is said, here, to require of the bhakta that very thing which Advaita Vedanta, the path of Knowledge, asks of its adherents - releasing all desire of the world, be it for objects or people. Vairaagya.
Be clear, this not about turning off the emotions and becoming a walking frigidaire! What is expected, if applied well, is that the things of the world will not at all wield an influence upon us, neither can our dear ones - who will still remain so - cause us any distress. In the detachment from the worldly, we build attachment to the Higher. In our current state we permit this mental bondage, thinking, "I cannot live without him/her… I am longing for this/that…" The sense of attachment is the total sum of one's individual ego. To renounce such attachment, then, is to acknowledge that ego and surrender it to the process. It is the most difficult step; but one who succeeds in this detachment becomes self-sufficient, God-focused and a walking embodiment of Love.
Often when it comes to this, in particular with regard to family, folk pull away. They fear loss. Again, think! This is not about physical separation or divorce or any such thing. It is about viewing the nature of you, your ego-self, in your attachment and changing that for a freer and more meaningful connection. The existing relationship, assuming it has substance, will only be enhanced by your shift from clinging neediness to Loving.
Further, Narada-ji says;
Through continuous, tender-loving service of the Lord.
This is something folk from all faiths will understand. If we cannot do anything else, at the very least we can offer our services to and through our spiritual conduits. Let all our words and deeds be an expression of the One Love. The term 'bhajan' is used most often in relation to the singing of praises - hymns - but it holds the meanings of reverence, sharing, participating, worship and adoration. It is in this fuller context that Guru uses the term in this short sutra and from it we can surmise that he asks the bhakta to make of their life a hymn, letting every word and deed be the music and an expression of Bhakti. By asking that it be uninterrupted, we are also to take heed that if we permit ourselves a 'holiday' from our saadhana, it is all to easy for the dedication to become slack, laziness to creep in and then the world of attachment pounces upon us once more.
Love itself becomes our conduit simply by practicing it, fully, unreservedly and in full surrender.