Bhakti, The Devotional Path by Michael Fletcher

Self-realization and spiritual advancement through devotion and love.
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Bhakti is a spiritual path that emphasizes a loving relationship between ourselves and a personal God.

Bhakti, The Devotional Path
by Michael Fletcher

“Thou pure Spirit, untouched by matter, without image and without form art Thou; You reside deep within both hidden and unseen. Your presence is implied in all created things. You are not the sun, but the power behind it. You are neither plant, animal, or human, but the power behind sensing, feeling, and thinking. You abide in infinite places; You are the Eternal Witness of All. Merciful and just; omnipotent, and yet graceful. Unto you I offer my life. To you only my heart is bound. My body is Thine from my head, to my fingertips, to my toes.”

The Divine at Play

If life is a stage and we are all merely players, then who's life is being performed in music and dance?
Who is the audience you may wonder?
Whose story is being told over and over?
Why God's of course, and no other.
Truly God is wondrous and all knowing.
He makes actors of us all in one way or another, by making us forget our Godly nature.
Sometimes we play the part of wisdom, and at times we're lost in folly.
Each of us oblivious to the fact that at the end of the act, it is God alone who takes a bow.
Age after age and cycle after cycle, this grand spectacle repeats itself again and again.
At times our performance is executed flawlessly, and at other times we aren't quite up to our best.
We sing for Him, and we dance for Him.
In every way we act for Him.
As the curtain rises we are laughing, and as it falls we are crying.
We each play our part unaware of the fact that it is His show and not ours.
For he is the actors.
He is the audience.
He is the music, and the stage.
We are the characters in His epic Creation.

Realization as It Is

My journey for Self Realization began during my preteens. Even at that early age I was intensely attracted to spirituality and mysticism. I also began practicing transcendental meditation which proved invaluable to my inner search. Without the benefit of a guru or teacher to show me the way it was very much a process of cause and effect, and trial and error. It wasn't until some 20 years later that all of my efforts and hard work paid off and I experienced my first fleeting glimpse of that most blessed state of awareness. After this initial experience I discovered what needed to happen for me to achieve this shift in consciousness, so it became easier and easier to attain this altered state during deep meditation, even though each experience only lasted but a moment. It took me nearly another decade to achieve a complete break through. It was a most profound transformation of my consciousness and in a way my old self died at that moment and I was reborn.

With Self realization one fully awakens to the connectivity of life. You discover that there is no I without a you. There is no object without a subject, and there is no observer apart from that which is being observed. In an instant, and to your complete surprise, your consciousness expands into infinity and you identify with that ultimate Reality behind all phenomenal existence.

I often rely on catch phrases like attainment and achievement when describing this state of transcendent awareness, but in truth there is nothing to attain or achieve. That pure awareness is your original and natural state of Being. It is never separate from you, nor is it in some way different from you. It is who and what you are, through and through, inside and out. This body that you wear is only a temporary manifestation of That, a reflection as it were of the universal Principle that is the one source of everything and everyone. All that needs to happen is for you to awaken to this truth within yourself.
What does it all mean in practical terms? How might I transmit this wisdom in a way that has any real meaning to others? Let's face facts; I could talk about the wonders of realization all day but what real meaning does any of it have when it involves complete abstractions that make no sense logically? How does it help people or provide anything tangible that might be of assistance to them in their own quest for meaning and purpose in everyday life? I feel that if I've accomplished anything then the only reason is so that I might share this experience with others and possibly help ease their suffering and offer them hope. Otherwise, my profound revelation has no real value or meaning, even for me. If I don't utilize it in some way to benefit humanity then it becomes nothing more than a selfish pursuit for self fulfillment.

I'm not concerned with being a guru or spiritual master since I feel that each of us is both teacher and student according to circumstances. It's each person's responsibility to develop according to your own understanding and needs. This is your journey of Self realization and you must learn and grow in your own way. I am only a man who has found his bliss, and having found it I must try to share that wisdom with others who are also on the spiritual path.

The Search for Enlightenment

In our search for enlightenment, we often make things more complicated than they need to be. We place such a heavy burden upon ourselves and others that it makes Self realization seem nearly impossible. We assume that if you aren't extra special, or somehow perfect, then you can't possibly know or experience this state of divine grace. Most people end up believing this so at the end of a life spent seeking and hoping for realization they die broken hearted having missed the goal in every imaginable way. All of us are worthy without exception, for Self realization is the destiny of every being.
The truth is that you don't need to be fully realized to know the happiness and freedom of enlightenment, and there are more ways than one to achieve this pure state of absolute Being. You can partake of this happiness right now and in this present lifetime, even if you haven't yet completely awakened. Many of you are already doing so and may not even be aware of it. It may be entertaining to discuss enlightenment and contemplate it philosophically, but when the dust settles and the debating ends, it all comes down to just one thing, COMPASSION. For the essence of Self realization is compassion. Impartial and unconditional love for oneself, others, and all creatures.
Yes, it's true that Self realization requires a great deal of personal struggle and effort. However, everyday life is the struggle and each moment you are given the choice to choose to be more compassionate and loving. Life is the great teacher. We are here to learn and grow as individual souls evolving toward our common destiny of absolute union. Don't avoid living, but live this life to the fullest, and in living your life cultivate mindfulness. This body is the means to attain Self realization, so through this body and mind awaken to the Self within.

If you aren't attracted to traditional mediation techniques then there's no reason to feel defeated. Even common and everyday actions can become a form of meditation. Whether it's cleaning your house, walking down the street, or making love to your beloved, surrender completely to the moment and simply Be. You aren't required to know anything or to analyze anything, for the Self is intuited and not grasped intellectually. Let your heart be governed by compassion and surrender to the moment. In the Now there is no past or future, and all sense of separateness dissolves into one. One experience, one existence, One Self.

Surrender completely and allow nature to take its course. When you are ready for it you will awaken fully, but then and only then will it happen. The journey to Self realization is the grand adventure and part of the fun of traveling is the journey itself, and not only the arrival. Until that time comes live true to your inner Self and live compassionately. Exist in this world and not apart from it. Surrender yourself without resistance and allow life to teach you the lessons you're here to learn. Even while in this body, fully realized or not, you will know true freedom. Even if you don't necessarily feel this unconditional love at first, or experience this connection to life and others, surrender anyway and allow your actions to gradually transform you. Your choice to be compassionate, and your willingness to look within for the answers, will inevitably open your heart and mind to the greater revelation of complete Self realization, and ultimately lead you home to final liberation.

The Manifest, The Unmanifest, And the Transcendent

There is manifest existence and there is unmanifest existence, which I refer to as the Universal Field of Being, or better still, the Universal Field of Non-being Being. Manifest existence is our 4-dimensional reality of space-time which includes material things and people. Just below the manifest universe, and as we go deeper into the structure of matter, there is the Universal Field of pure potentiality, also known as the Unified Field of physics. This field of pure potential existence underlies our 4-dimensional reality and supports it. This has also been referred to as the Void or the Abyss. Forms arise from out of the Void, only to dissolve once again back into pure potentiality. The Void is not empty but can be thought of as information that has yet to be actualized, and therefore contains the potential for everything and everyone that has been, is, and ever will be.
If you go deeper still and pierce the Veil of potential existence you become aware of That which cannot be named nor defined adequately. It can only be intuited and experienced as your own inner 'Beingness', but apart from this any attempt to understand it with the mind or intellect is like trying to grasp water with your hand. In trying to grasp it it slips through your fingers and is gone. With utmost caution I attempt to use words like the Ineffable and the Infinite to describe It, but with the complete acknowledgement that even these are feeble attempts to describe Something that transcends both words and thought. For anything that you can imagine is not It in Its purity. It is neither manifest existence nor unmanifest existence, but something beyond even these concepts. It is neither the masculine nor the feminine, and yet It is the originator of both male and female.

To some It is Spirit and to others it is called the Supreme. Some think of It as the Creator, the personal God. While others say It's impersonal, a universal principle. Sublime, eternal, all-knowing, self-existent, omnipotent, encompassing everything and hidden deep within every being-This holy One cannot be grasped by the mind but is intuited by the heart. People throughout the ages have called It by many names and attempted to define It in logical terms, but It defies complete expression. So, our descriptions fall short and names are never quite enough, but this matters little in the bigger scheme of things. What matters most of all is that we awaken to the experience of being part of something far greater than our limited physical selves. We are part of a collective that is ultimately One, and this One is the source of both us and nature.

The Universal Field of Being

All things arise from out of that one universal field of pure non-Being. Think of it as the ocean that oscillates rhythmically. This movement creates waves which in turn form foam and froth on the waters surface. These bubbles remain only for a moment then dissolve once again back into the water. The individual self and all forms are like these bubbles. They appear only momentarily then once again dissolve back into the universal field of absolute existence. Forms rise and fall in continuous succession, and one after another throughout eternity.

The personal self, like all things in this universe is impermanent, and any sense of permanence is illusory. There is only That which was, is, and always will be. Like the mighty ocean its depths are unfathomable. Each of us is only the temporary manifestation of that infinite ocean of potential Being which gives rise to everything from matter and energy, life and thought. Having emanated from the universal field we will once again return to it, our former self completely dissolving back into potentiality. Nothing is ever lost or destroyed, it merely changes form from water to foam, and then back to water once again. This creation and dissolution of forms never ceases.

We are That in essence, and the self we think of as permanent and real is but another manifestation of the one universal field of potential Being. This field underlies reality and is both its origin and support, just as the ocean waves support the foam and froth. To realize this truth is to awaken to ones true Self, which is the Infinite. This is what we are and who we are.

Copyright©2010MICHAELFLETCHER

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Tags: mind body and spirit

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