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Lesson 12 - The Essential Ingredient - Desire  (Audio)
    Addition 12.1 - Relationship between Desire and Devotion (Bhakti)

Nov 16, 2003

It is common knowledge that if we want to be successful at something, at anything, we must desire it continuously, and be willing to act to fulfill that desire every day. Think of the most successful people you know. Isn't this what they have in common? If we look at their lives, we see that they have worked long and hard to achieve excellence in their chosen field. Behind that, an insatiable desire to succeed in their efforts kept them driving forward, overcoming obstacles, working for years toward their objective. It is like that in yoga, which is working toward divine union.

Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." He also said, "Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will open to you."

This is the magic formula - desire toward a goal, which spawns action toward that goal. Continuous desire is the fuel. Daily action is the fire. The word "continuous" is important, as is the word "goal." Without these two operative functions, desires are scattered, actions are unfocused, and not much happens. With them, anything is achievable.

If we cultivate our desire to become continuously focused on a particular goal, such as the achievement of divine union, we are cultivating a special kind of desire. It is called "devotion." Devotion is the continuous flow of desire toward an object or goal. We are all familiar with the concept of devotion. It is how we explain the success of great achievers: "Oh, she is so devoted to her work." Or of great mystics: "Oh, she is so devoted to God." It is no coincidence that devotion and greatness are found in the same place. The first invariably leads to the second. The second cannot happen without the first.

Whatever your concept of enlightenment may be, whatever tradition or creed you hail from, whatever inspires you in the direction of spiritual unfoldment, cultivate that. It is the engine of practice. It is what enables us to sustain daily spiritual practice for as long as it takes. As we practice, our divine experience grows, and, with that, devotion grows. Increased devotion intensifies our commitment to practice, and more dedicated practice yields more divine experience which in turn increases devotion further. This is how it progresses - devotion yielding practice ... yielding divine experience ... yielding more devotion ... and so on. Devotion sustained at a fever pitch by every means possible is the spiritual aspirant's best friend. It is not always an easy life being constantly consumed by spiritual "hunger and thirst," but it puts us on the royal road to enlightenment. Intense devotion to transforming our lives through yoga practices assures that what must be done will be done.

Speaking of what must be done, now let's talk about the next step - developing the habit of cultivating our eternal silent depths on a daily basis. Let's talk about meditation.

The guru is in you.

Addition 12.1 - Relationship Between Desire and Devotion (Bhakti)
Jan 13, 2015

This lesson points out the importance of desire in the overall process of yoga. In later lessons the role of desire is discussed further as "bhakti," which means, "love of Truth" or "love of God." This is much more than an emotional indulgence. Bhakti is one of the most powerful of all spiritual practices. Emotional energy has a huge influence on the process of human spiritual transformation, and on the course of all our endeavors in yoga. So, the principles and practical methods of bhakti are returned to again and again in the lessons.

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Note: For detailed instructions on employing desire and action on our spiritual path, see the Bhakti and Karma Yoga Online Book.

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