anyasmat saulabhyam bhaktau
—Bhakti Sutras of Narada (verse 58)
The path of love and devotion, bhakti yoga, is the path of the heart. It is our deep longing to become one with that which is eternal and unchanging. By attaining the purest, highest state of unconditional love, we can overcome our sense of pain and separation, and experience an abiding inner peace and joy.
The 84 aphorisms of the Bhakti Sutras, written by the sage Narada, is the principal text of this path, which consists of both aparabhakti, or lower bhakti (the ways to cultivate and deepen devotion), and parabhakti, or higher bhakti (the ultimate union with the Divine).
The lower form of bhakti is easier for us to practice than parabhakti, because the purest form of love cannot be achieved. Rather it descends, it manifests, it unfolds. It is a matter of revelation. What we can do is prepare for it by practicing aparabhakti—we can polish and refine the level of love and devotion we have, allowing it to shine. How do we do this? We can start with our worldly relationships.
We often want others to take care of us, to heal us, to make us whole--and are constantly disappointed when our expectations are not met.
According to Narada, bhakti is the easiest way to attain the Divine because it is our very nature to love and be loved. However, we often want others to take care of us, to heal us, to make us whole—and are constantly disappointed when our expectations are not met. But if we can begin to see those around us as manifestations of the Divine, and start treating them the way we want to be treated, then our worldly relationships are transformed into spiritual ones. As we learn to love others without conditions, without expectations, without selfishness, we start to see the face of Divinity reflected in their eyes.
Gradually, as we learn to let go of our sense of duality, we experience a complete oneness with others, for we come to understand that we are all the same, there is no separation. That is the highest state of realization—the true nature of love.