Earlier this month, we shared an introduction to Bhakti and how it can serve and support you in your life and in your business. To recap, Bhakti is a spiritual practice that looks at every single thing in our lives - every emotion, every thought, every reaction, every action - as either the expression of love, or the calling for love. And we can use this principle to become more conscious, more fully expressed, more loving, and more connected to source.
Every desire is a calling for love. In naming and claiming the difficult feelings and experiences of our lives as the calling for love, we give ourselves tools to not only accept that we have desire, but to use it to get more conscious. Bhakti is a practice of using desire to get more conscious.
Recently, a client in one of my groups shared an experience that illustrates this powerfully.
“My unconsciousness shows up in trying to please others - I try to come off in a way I feel will get the approval of those around me. Even when I’m super aware of this pattern, it’s there. It’s almost like, beneath a lot of my words and actions is really the message, 'Love me.' That’s actually what’s being sent out.
So, I played with that walking down the street, and consciously began thinking to each person I saw – 'Love me.' I wanted to embody that part of me fully. I found it empowering and liberating. Instead of treating it as this really small part of me, I gave it the full stage, with awareness.”
This client is an incredible community builder and leader. He is well known, beloved, and truly liked by basically everyone he meets. And he was describing something we all feel. The deep yearning, the crying out for love - this is our human experience. Take note: instead of resisting or shrinking it down, he allowed himself to consciously embody that yearning, and to cry out even more. This is what Bhakti is all about.
All transformational work is about choosing to become more conscious. And one of the most powerful tools we have in learning how to become more conscious is to pay particular attention to the moments where we tend to go unconscious. Which means you have to welcome all the parts of you, conscious and unconscious. You have to be willing to look at all of it.
More than that: you can only see the fullness of who you are - with all your consciousness and unconsciousness - if you’re willing to let go of making yourself right or wrong. There isn’t a right or a wrong. There’s not a right or a wrong in you, there’s not a right or wrong in me, or in anyone. That’s just not what it’s about. It’s about something else.
Ask yourself: if this life isn’t about doing things right, or avoiding doing them wrong, then what is it really about?
There’s a powerful story about this from the Ramayana - one of India’s most important epic poems. Here’s the super short version of the story (spoiler alert!):
There is a big and long battle. One side is lead by Lord Ram - the embodiment of love, honor, loyalty, divine wholesomeness. The other is lead by Ravana, the demon king, who has ten heads, and has stolen Ram’s wife Sita. For our purposes, consider the Ramayana as spiritual metaphor: look at Ram as the fullness of the divine heart and Ravana as the manifestation of ego. After thousands of pages, much ado, and tons of drama all of Ravana’s armies are gone. They’ve all been destroyed by Ram’s armies and Ravana is literally alone except for his secretary. At the end, heart and head collide: Ravana and Ram have a one on one battle and at last, Ravana is defeated and dies on the shore of Lanka.
The good and evil in this story seem pretty clear cut, right?
Well this is where we get a little surprise: Ravana’s secretary - the only living entity left on that side of the battle - brings out this stone tablet to Ram. On it, Ravana has written a note to Ram and it says, “Beloved Ram, I did all this - I stole your wife, I waged this global battle, and so on (he lists 1000s of years of related activities) - I did all this so that I could come here and die at your feet. It was the only way I could find to reach you.”
In Western epics, in Marvel movies, the bad guys are just bad guys. That’s how we perpetuate our narrative about good and bad, right and wrong. There’s no major transcendence there. But in the Indian narrative, there is a deeper understanding that even the ego is trying to get to god, even the ego is trying to get to the heart. It will go through all kinds of machinations and wreak havoc - because those are the only tools it knows how to use to serve the ultimate destination. Yet it's destiny is the same as the heart: transcendence, connection with God, true expression, the dissolution of the ego.
In spiritual practice, we often end up vilifying the ego, perpetuating our right/wrong paradigm. The Ramayana teaches us the truth of the ego: the ego will fight and fight and fight so that it can be killed by God. ALL parts of us - conscious and unconscious - are reaching for love, for divine connection, for transcendence.
And when we understand this principle, there is nothing in life that is not here for our highest benefit, to bring us closer to our visions, our purpose, our deepest connection with source, our fullest expression.
Bring that into your understanding of yourself as you play with the devotional practice below. In the moments when your ego is terrorizing you; when you’re feeling awesome and special, basking in the appreciation of others; when you feel that no one likes you, you don’t even deserve to be liked; when you’re feeling totally ashamed, that you’ve failed.
In every one of the moments when your ego is hijacking you, remember that even your ego is here to bring you closer to divine love. Let it wear out all it's armies and surrender at the feet of the divine.
BHAKTI CONSCIOUS PRACTICE 3
Take on my client’s walking meditation. Practice it as often as you like, open eyed and open ended. With every person that you see - walking down the street, driving in their car, over dinner, during sex (all levels of intimacy) - let yourself feel the part of you that really wants them to approve of you, like you, say yes to you. Let yourself feel the tender truth of that desire.
Then make that desire an offering in your mind. On the inside, feel that sense of yes, I AM an offering. I AM that crying out for love. Your crying out for love is the most opening, powerful and true expression of your heart. Let yourself feel it fully, offer it openly. Every time you do this, you become less and less hidden, less and less obscured. There’s less shame, less guilt, less secrecy, less lying. Your heart is more and more here in your own body. More and more open. More and more of an offering to the world.
This practice trains us to be more and more unconditional. We’re practicing allowing ourselves to want love whether we think it’s strategic or not. We’re asking for love whether we think we’ll get it from this person or not. We’re offering our open hearts whether it’s yes or no, whether this person is connected to the Divine or not. We are choosing to see the Divine in everyone, and offer our love and our longing for love to that, that, that, that.
Let it crack your heart wide open and watch your life transform.
Questions? Revelations? Extensions? We want to know all about it!