Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bhakti, the Complete Yoga

Bhakti, the Complete Yoga
By David Bruce Hughes

What is yoga, and what is its purpose? Yoga is the practice of
spiritual life,
as opposed to faith, ceremonies, theories or beliefs about it. Yoga’s
purpose is
the relief of suffering in general, and eradication of the root cause
suffering in particular.

We are all suffering in this material world. Anyone who imagines that
he is not
suffering in this world is simply hallucinating. In reality, no one
wants to
grow old, suffer from disease or die. No one wants to struggle for
money, be
frustrated in love, or deal with the numerous conflicts, humiliations
and other
inconveniences of life. No one wants to settle for limited,
conditional happiness. Everyone wants pure happiness—complete relief
material suffering—and yoga is the only known means to achieve it.

Yoga is practical, as opposed to theoretical or speculative. That is
advantage of yoga over religion, philosophy and theology. When
properly, yoga leads to tangible relief from the suffering of
existence. It does not require belief; it is a path of practice, of

Of course, to practice yoga requires some faith in its methods, but
this kind of
faith leads very quickly to confirmation: yoga works. As a teenager,
I suffered
from an endocrine imbalance. My doctor’s treatments didn’t have any
effect, so
after reading some books on hatha-yoga I tried some asanas. After a
few weeks of
practicing just 15 to 20 minutes a day, my condition was cured and
the doctors
were amazed.

Now having studied many yoga methods from great realized teachers for
over 40
years, I can understand that there was nothing amazing about it. The
yoga system
is clearly the product of a vast superhuman intelligence. So if yoga
works, that
should not be surprising. The same intelligence that designed the
human body and
mind also knows how to repair them.

When we practice yoga we are tuning in to that intelligence. Yoga
‘linking’ in Sanskrit, and in yoga we are linking the individual soul
with the
Supersoul, or God. This works very well, whether we want to tune up
the physical
body, learn how to think properly, cleanse our heart of negativity,
or are
trying to uproot the cause of all suffering.

The purposes served by the various forms of yoga are similar, but
different. All
bona-fide yoga practices lead to balancing and healing. The asanas
and exercises
of hatha-yoga focus on balancing and healing the material body, while
exquisite spiritual logic of buddhi-yoga focuses on balancing and
healing the
intelligence. Each of the yogas focuses primarily on healing one or
more of the
Chakras, the subtle centers of our bodily functions.

Nevertheless, the yogas are not equivalent. We cannot get the same
result from
practicing hatha-yoga that we get from practicing nada-yoga, subtle
vibration. This is common sense; we do not use a wrench to pick a
Neither should we expect that any of the yogas should provide the
results of any

But each yoga system can be a lifetime study in itself. Over the
centuries, the
Sanskrit yoga source texts have been commented upon by numerous
teachers, often
with conflicting philosophical views. Sorting out the original
practices of any
of the yogas is a time-consuming study. And who has time to practice
so many
different yoga methods?

The solution to this quandary is Bhakti. Bhakti is both the root and
culmination of all the other yogas. Why? Bhakti provides complete
relief from
all suffering by removing the root cause of all suffering: the desire
material existence. Therefore Bhakti-yoga is the greatest of all

If we want to compare things of roughly equivalent magnitude, we
contrast their results, qualities and characteristics. If we analyze
different yoga methods, we find that they each address specific areas
of our
total being. Hatha-yoga is good for health; raja-yoga nourishes our
growth, and so on.

All the yogas are beneficial, and each is wonderful in its own way.
Nevertheless, the qualities and characteristics of Bhakti are
incomparable, even
among the other forms of yoga. Other yogas may temporarily reduce or
suffering in their respective areas of application, but Bhakti
completely and
permanently eradicates the cause of all suffering.

A realized bhakti-yogi has no desire for material happiness,
knowledge or even
liberation. A realized bhakti-yogi already has everything his heart
desire: pure Love of Godhead includes all that is desirable. So the
has no need to go outside the safety of the Heart Center. If he uses
the other
Chakras at all, it is in the service of his practice of Bhakti. How
is this

First of all, proper practice of Bhakti brings immediate relief from
material distress. If we realize that we are not this material body,
but a pure
spirit soul, we also discover our eternal spiritual body. A spiritual
body has
no suffering, because it is made of pure consciousness. Eternal life
is already
ours—we just have to discover it by our bhakti-yoga practice.

Next, the complete Universal Mind is present within our hearts as the
or localized presence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is
no need to
go to any other source to obtain knowledge, when the Source of
knowable is already within us. The linking process of bhakti-yoga
brings us into
direct contact with the Supersoul, hence all knowledge becomes

Nor does the accomplished bhakti-yogi desire liberation from material
Our spiritual body already exists eternally in the spiritual world,
but because
of our focus on the material energy, is in a dormant state. As soon
as we
realize our spiritual identity in relation to the Supersoul, our
spiritual body
becomes active, and we see that we have been in the spiritual world
all along.

Finally, complete realization of bhakti bestows unprecedented
happiness upon the
yogi. Through Bhakti we experience rasa, or ecstatic transcendental
mellows in
relationship with the Supreme Lord. Rasa is ecstasy beyond
description. It is a
deep and complex experience of the boundless varieties of love and
in the spiritual world. The unlimited nuances and permutations of
rasa are
enough to keep us happily engaged for an eternity of loving pastimes
in the
spiritual world.

The realized bhakti-yogi has no desire for spiritual knowledge or
leading to oneness with God. He regards such so-called liberation as
for in oneness there is no chance for relationship. Even the
enjoyments of
heaven hold no attraction for him, for already has something much

Bhakti is an unlimited fountain of bliss for the realized yogi. There
is no
imperfection, no struggle, no shortages, no competition, no strife or
misunderstanding in the spiritual world. As God’s playground, the
world is perfect, complete and full of the highest bliss unmixed with
suffering whatsoever.

The spiritual world is the home of God. The Heart Center is the door.
Bhakti is
the key.

David Bruce Hughes (Sri Gaurahari das Babaji) hosts bhakti-yoga
retreats at the
rural WindSpirit Community in eastern Arizona. For more information
contact the Author.

For more information on bhakti-yoga, please see the author’s website

The Live to Love Family is a satsang (spiritual association) and
esoteric school
serving an eclectic group of spiritual practitioners centered around
David Bruce
Hughes (Sri Gaurahari das Babaji), a self-realized teacher of high
attainment in
Bhakti-yoga. For more information please see

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