Practice of the lower stages, such as listening to stories, is relatively easy. It keeps the mind centered on the Almighty and thus creating positive thought waves and a receptive mind. Even those who are intellectually oriented derive benefit from the stories and chanting if they will open their hearts as well as their minds. When the devotee has been prepared by the earlier stages of worship, he can attempt the more difficult higher stages.
In any case, the bhava, or devotional feeling, of the devotee is of extreme importance. Accommodating the various temperaments of people, there are five different ways of relating to God. The ways can be mentioned as
There is one more bhava, which remains outside the pale of normal relationships. It is not deliberately cultivated as a path to God, nor is it easy to maintain. This is the feeling of extreme hatred toward God. When one is in constant remembrance of Him, the mind becomes one-pointed and fixed. Through this concentration one is redeemed. It has been seen that evil always falls before goodness. Various demons of Hindu mythology, such as Kamas and Ravana, achieved salvation in this manner.
According to classical tradition, the human being experiences fourteen different states of consciousness. These fourteen different types can be mentioned as physical, astral, mental, sacramental, super conscious, unconscious, subconscious, dream, dual, multiple, virat, divine and absolute. The practice of Bhakti Yoga can lead the aspirant through any or all of them. The devotee is particularly subject to visions, lights in the forehead and other manifestations of psychic phenomena. These experiences can be frightening, particularly the loss of physical consciousness. This experience may feel like dying. However, the aspirant must not be faint-hearted, nor should he cling to these experiences, which will appear and reappear for brief periods at the beginning of serious spiritual progress. With persistent and regular practice, one goes beyond these phenomena to meditation, peace and bliss. One must struggle to reach meditation, and struggle even harder to reach Samadhi i.e. the super conscious state.
In all religions Truth becomes diluted by and for the masses. It becomes an external object to be sought after, rather than an inner state of consciousness, which is its true nature. The essential attitude to be taken in any religion is one of taking refuge of confession, prayer, and ultimate surrender to a higher power. It is this inner state of consciousness that Bhakti Yoga nurtures. Without its presence, all other paths of Yoga and any true spiritual progress will not go further.
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