How Bhakti Works

Engagement in the loving service of the Supreme is called bhakti, or devotional service. It is the natural tendency of the soul to love the original soul and all its emanations dearly.

Likewise, the Supreme Soul lovingly takes care of all the needs of the individual souls, like a father takes care of his children.

The Part and the Whole

There is an intimate relationship between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul. The relationship between the soul and the Supreme is that of the part and the Whole. They are one in one sense (qualitatively) and different in another sense (quantitatively).

The soul is an inseparable part of the Absolute, but as a particular part it has its particular identity. Any bodily organ is an integral part of the whole body, but it still has its own identity and characteristics.

The part is meant to serve the Whole in the same way as the parts of the body are meant to serve the whole body.  In this way all parts works together because they’ve got the same purpose. There is complete harmony.

Free Will and our Life in the Material World

Every soul has its free will. It has the right to direct its loving attention to the Supreme Soul or look for its own happiness independently.

That’s why there are two energies. Under God’s internal energy we are in direct contact with the Absolute Person and engage in our eternal loving relationship with Him. Under the external material energy, we are seemingly separated from the Supreme Person and engage in independent activities, looking for some satisfaction in the material world.

The material world provides us with different bodies, one after another, and different identities in the pursuit of enjoyment in this world.

Everyone wants to be happy because it is the nature of the soul to be happy. The only problem is, that every individual soul in this world chases after its own enjoyment, and thus there is competition for the resources and an atmosphere of selfishness and envy.

The material world is also a place of forgetfulness, because in order to really go for our individual enjoyment we need to forget our identity (as a selfless lover).

Thus the problems of the material world do not have a material solution, they only have a spiritual solution. The simple remedy is to engage in the service of the source of all existence with love and devotion and thus experience all the love that the origin of existence has for us. That love is always there, but we have lost our ability to receive it.

The Nature of Bhakti

Every human in this world has the capacity and the right to take to the process of bhakti directly. It just requires a little guidance to rediscover one’s inherent tendencies and qualities.

The inherent spiritual nature in everything is experienced when we see its connection with the Absolute Origin. In spiritual consciousness we see everyone and everything connected to the Supreme, but in material consciousness we lose that vision. 

However, it is not sufficient to have that vision.

In bhakti, we actively use everything in the service of the Supreme, and thus the spiritual world manifests before our eyes. The bhakta is not satisfied to merely observe, how everything is connected to the Absolute, but he wants to please his object of love, the Supreme Soul, by having Him enjoy all objects. Thus he evolves from his static vision of how everything is related to the Supreme into a dynamic vision loving exchange with the Supreme.

Unconditional love is awakened by loving exchanges between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul, and this is the real secret of bhakti. Nothing can compare to that love, and someone who has once tasted it can never be satisfied with anything else.

How to Practice Bhakti

There are some devotional activities with great transformational powers, and they are the basics of our bhakti sadhana.

“Sravanam, kirtanam visnoh, smaranam. pada-sevanam, arcanam, vandanam, dasyam, sakhyam, atma-nivedanam. These nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service. One who has dedicated his life to the service of Krishna through these nine methods should be understood to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.23-24)

Bhakti can be performed with one’s physical body, mind and intelligence. We use our body with all its senses in the practical service of the Lord, we focus our mind on the form, the name and the pastimes of the Lord, and with our intelligence we try to understand the nature of the Supreme.

How these internal or external activities may be executed is described in the section “Bhakti Practices”.

As soon as the soul directs its attention to the Lord, the Lord personally assists the soul in all its endeavors. This is why authentic bhakti is so powerful. Bhakti is completely free and can be executed under all circumstances. When the soul decides to practice bhakti it cannot be stopped, because the Supreme Soul removes all obstacles.

The Supreme Lord is like the sun. As soon as He appears all the darkness of ignorance is at once dissipated. The Supreme gradually reveals Himself to His devotee who is engaged in His loving service with full faith. Although the Lord is completely independent of all obligations, He is bound up by the tie of unalloyed devo­tion.

When we regain our capacity to experience the spiritual reality all doubts about the nature of the Absolute dissipate. You don’t need anyone to certify that you are self-realized when you really are. No one can divert your attention from the Absolute Truth when you have seen it yourself. Bhakti is a scientific method for self-realization, because everyone who applies that method is able to experience the result personally. It is very practical.