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!
Chapter 4, Section 1, The Practice of Bhakti.
àma[aNtrSyanpe]Tvat! Svy< àma[Tvat!.59.
Pramaana-antarasya-anapekshatvaat svayam pramaanatvaat ||59||
...because Love depends on no other proof - it in itself being of the nature of a proof; Love is Self-Evident.
Why is the bhakti marg worth the following? We saw last week that is the most readily adopted of the spiritual paths and anyone can take it up. Now we are told that it is because Love is so recognisable.
Love requires no proof, because in experiencing Love, we know it for what it is. In jnaana marg, where viveka is the primary method of research, proof is required. That is the nature of enquiry; pick it up, sniff it, shake it about a bit; repeat until all doubt removed. Love does not require this. Vairaagya, the secondary requirement in jnaana marg, also requires proof in that it rests upon the self-discipline of the student. The proof lies in the integrity, the ability to be not just the words but the actions - not just saying one abstains from vices, but in the actual abstinence. Love allows for the frailty of the human critter and still abides.
There are no equipments or accessories required for the devotional path. Of course, it is also the path littered with the most amount of material - crucifixes, murtis, malas and rosaries, candles and lamps - but none of these as actually required, for the devotion itself is within the practitioner. The proof of the devotion is in the heart and it requires no props.
Neither does it require knowledge or physical prowess. Love exists within the heart of a child and in the mentally disabled every bit as much as in the intellectually adept. Love is known and understood without words and True Love Divine is the ultimate reward.
Jnaana requires that the student be intellectual, that they pursue study of related texts, that they spend time in reflection and contemplation and that they receive proper guidance from a qualified teacher. They must involve themselves, they must expose themselves to the philosophy in order for it to take effect within them and the must have they courage commit to the changes and the convictions which arise from the learning.
Karma requires of the student an adequate field of action in which to serve with the appropriately subdued ego and correct mental attitude. The Yogi of Hatha must ensure daily rigourous practice of twisted postures and breathing exercises.
Bhakti, though, requires none of these things. No particular circumstance or environment are necessary for Love to express. Wherever the bhakta is, there s/he may declare their devotion. Everybody has the potential for Love Expression within them, but not everyone has learned yet to tap into it in the fullest sense. Too often it is squandered on the worldly existence, mistakenly placed and ruefully withdrawn. Small-letter love is but a reflection of the Love Divine, in the same way that the individual ego-self is but a reflection of the Universal Self. That they exist is a fine thing. That they can expand to the Infinite is a marvel. Love is the easiest to expand; the ego-self may follow in its own due time.