Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!27th
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!
Having given some methodology for application of Bhakti, Sri Narada now turns to how we can maintain Bhakti even in our daily tasks. Far too often it is heard from those who are active in employment and other activity that there 'is no time' for pursuing spiritual practice. There is no excuse, declares the Guru!
Loke-api Bhagavadguna-shravanakiirtanaat ||37||
(Bhakti can be practiced) By hearing and singing the Lord's Glory even while engaged in the worldly activities.
Here is the fourth means of developing perfect Love for the Lord. According to the tradition, any individual engaged in daily routines can discover and develop Bhakti in his own heart by shravana and kiirtanam (listening and singing) of the Lord's wonders. This is actually particularly easy to do in the modern world; download bhajans/gospels/sacred chants/hymns to your favourite portable device!
The two processes of shravanam and kiirtanam are quite profound in their effect. Think about the time you hear any song on a number of occasions - do you not find that it echoes within - you may even find yourself seeking to give your own rendition? How readily we will permit this indoctrination of our mind with popular music; at least if it is with traditional and classical music, it can aid a form of contemplation. How much more would it be so if we permitted songs of praise to enter our psyche in similar manner?! Shravanam, remember, is active listening, an alert and alive acceptance of the sound-bytes which provide meaning and worth immediately to the listener. Kiirtanam is the dynamic effort to provide an output which equals the beauty, the intensity, the belief in what has been heard. It is not a mechanical repetition, a musical 'performance', filled only with noise and show. It is filled with heart-felt awareness of the presence of the Lord. Each bhajan, each mantra, must arise from within like a lovesong to the beloved.
By these to processes, even in the busy life of duties, one of worldly preoccupation can also maintain and almost continuous awareness of the Lord, constantly turning the mind back to the Higher. In the Srimad Bhagawat sage Vyaasa, writing about Sri Krishna, has Bhagawan declare, 'the mind that constantly fancies over the sense-objects gets drowned in sensuality; while the mind that constantly contemplates upon Me shall get merged in Me'.
These symbols of puja, kiirtan, shravan, dhyaan (meditation) are all available to the seeker who would have Bhakti in their life. When practised for a long period, the seeker discovers that the devotion for the Lord has taken root within; the practice becomes easier and reverence becomes natural to the personality.
Do we ignore the world around and the news it contains? Of course not; however we now put it in rightful place and let it not overwhelm or totally distract us. By having the name of the Lord ever-present on our mind, we cope better, we deal better and are less likely to tumble into gossip and rumour-mongering. We have improved boundaries and can remain compassionate but avoid the pitfalls of over-empathy. We can be clear about what we can do, and what we can't. At all times we think Higher, we speak Higher and we act Higher.
The lesson today all speaks to the choice of following shreyas as opposed to preyas, as has been getting discussed on Choose-days of late. It is admitted, though, that this can be quite trying, especially in the early stages if we are making big changes in our life. We need support. Aids to the Love Divine are discussed in following sutras.
Seek out at least three pieces of spiritual music/song which you enjoy and will readily listen to them each day at least thrice daily. Observe yourself over the week as to the effect of this listening... permit yourself to join in!