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 Five, Section Two - Secondary Love Divine. In section one we learned of the personality type which works for and attains the Supreme Bhakti. As noted, such personalities are rare: not because folk are incapable, but because they have yet to understand the benefit, or even know that there is such a goal and are, instead, lost in the 'daily grind'. These are the majority who will fall into the subcategories now pointed out by Sri Narada.
gaE[I iÇxa gu[_aedad! AataRid_aedad! Vaa.56.
Gaunii tridhaa guna-bhedaad aartaadi-bhedaad vaa ||56||
The secondary devotion is of three kinds, according to the difference in the mental disposition or according to the type of discontentment.
No matter how keenly we wish to reach the highest, in the beginning we must practice the 'lower' forms of bhakti. Can you, as one who has never pole-vaulted before, think to immediately run, grasp that pole, fly over the bar and successfully release that pole and land in graceful completion? Indeed not. However, according to previous experience and inherent talent, there may be varying degrees of success from at least not breaking any bones, all the way down to landing in hospital!
The form of spiritual practice which Vedanta demands of its adherents, it bears repeating, is like any study and any form of exercise. One must begin where one is at and seek to improve.
Thus, reference is made here to the triguna - sattva, rajas, tamas. We know this because of the mention of 'mental disposition'. The gunas are all three within us, but one or other will dominate at different times in different situations, as well as there being one dominant guna into which we might generally be classified. What is more, the gunas will influence the nature of the vaasanas which manifest in our current incarnation and colour our actions.
As long as vaasanas are present, we are forced to act; one must hear, must read, speak and feel. The highest devotion spoken of prior can only take place where all vaasanas have been exhausted in the individual. We can only approach the Higher through those vaasanas and the actions prompted by them, therefore the Guru here tells us that, according to the makeup within us of the gunas and how we deal with them, we can only work in 'gauna-bhakti', secondary devotion. In short, our motivation towards devotion may be lesser or greater and hold a different focus according to our personality.
One who is predominantly tamasic in nature is less likely to either have the desire or the focus for devotion; however, if the spark is there, such a person can indeed pull his or herself up towards the higher by moving into a more dominant rajasic temperament. The rajasic individual, who is ever on the move and restless and who may well seek the Higher keenly, may struggle by simple fact that rajas is also easily distracted. By continued self-discipline and determination, there is no reason why the rajasic one cannot lift into more predominant sattvika and improve their spiritual gain. It is from sattva that one can rise, finally, to the highest level (moksha) - but this is not a given. Many a sattvika has been heard to complain that they are doing everything 'the right way', but still there are conditionings to be overcome and vaasanas to burn. The sattvika must work only in total and selfless Love in order to succeed in rooting out the vaasanas.
When one can move into the state of unconditioned and unconditional Love (with the capital 'ell'), there alone will one join with the Higher.
This is because the essential heart of Love is, itself, renunciation. To reach to this state, as said in this sutra, it is imperative that we work our way through all the gunas and their various combined manifestations within us. Overcoming all these inherent 'personality grenades' is our work, our saadhana.
Now, there was mention of the secondary devotion itself having three categories. These are according to guna; tamas = arthaarthi, rajas = jijnasu and sattva = aarta. These will be explored in more detail in the following sutra, but basically, arthaarthi is discontented and knows s/he wants better, but on the whole this is perceived only within the material (to have a better home, better job etc); jijnasu is more spiritually aware and understands there may be something worth paying attention to, but becomes discontented when it all seems 'too hard'; aarta is discontented with the material life and knows there is something more intellectually and spiritually stimulating awaiting.
All have a sense of incompleteness and the drive to improve, and each must use this as a springboard towards the better. The actions to make these improvements, though, are governed by those pesky gunas and vaasanas!