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 Six, Section Two - Obstacles to Practice.
Yes, the Narada Bhakti Suutra is not merely a tome on the theory of Devotion - it offers top tips too!
laekhanEe icNta n kayaR inveidtaTmlaekvedzIlaTvat!.61.
Lokahaanau chintaa na kaaryaa nivedita-aatma-loka-veda-shiilaatvaat ||61||
No worry or anxiety should be entertained at the worldly losses, as it is the nature of a true devotee to constantly surrender his limited self and all its secular and sacred activities to the Lord of his heart.
Here's another quote with which many of you will be familiar;…"For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap; they have no storehouse or barn, yet God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than the birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan?…" (Luke Ch 12:23-25)
Top tip number one, then, is surrender all concerns at the feet of the Lord! Indeed, the suggestion is more along the lines of don't bother with worry in the first place. This comes down to checking the attitude, as discussed yesterday for Choose-day. Life, by it's very process, will present challenges and hurdles for us to negotiate. If we have true bhakti in our hearts, though, this processing ought to become much less harrowing and even be welcomed, as these things are what hone our personality and resolve. The true devotee sees the turn of the Universal Cogs/Lord's Work in everything that takes place and knows that there is always choice entertained within these events.
We are inclined to think in terms of heroism as diving fearlessly into battle, or risking our own life for others in an accident and such like. We forget therefore that the essence of heroism is to keep smiling in the face of everything and that every one of us has hero potential. Sorrow is something we bring upon ourselves through not attuning the mind to the fact that everything, ultimately, is for the good. Difficult to accept sometimes, but none the less true.
It is very difficult for the novice in this philosophy to retain composure such as this. Without yet having experienced the Truth Divine, what incentive is there to keep the seeker motivated? Having theoretical understanding of the Universal Consciousness is one thing, trusting and believing it in times of challenge is another. Followers of jnaana-marg can resort to the anchor, 'all sorrows are at mental level; I am not the mind nor these sorrows; I am the knower of sorrows and the sorrows are not mine.' What for the bhakta-marg though?
The bhakta may well have the easiest way of overcoming sorrows. Such a one has already offered up themselves to the will of the Lord and thus acceptance of the trials and tribulations is set in place by the nature of devotion. The joy now is found by working through the strifes and offering these, in turn, at the altar. Thus, the stresses and strains and worries are handed over for the Lord to take care of.
The bhakta needs to be surrendered fully and believe that there is no existence worth the having away from the Lord's presence. Sitting on the platform beside the Lord, it is possible to look over one's life with an objectivity and understand that the sorrows are not to be owned, but are mere objects which come and go and we are thus witnesses only of sorrow, never owners of it. This is the attitude of the bhakta, if well-cultivated, which enables renunciation of the world and adoption of the Divine. If there is a slip in the presence of this understanding and the bhakta for any moment reclaims the sorrows as his own, it will be found that bit more difficult to surrender again. Offer everything up to Naaraayana and make every effort not to reclaim it!
Waste not your energy on matters anxious - or indeed excess joys - for all are the Lord's play. Remain serene and know fulfilment.