Author Topic: Intellectual Bhakti  (Read 2328 times)

Dr. Sadananda

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Intellectual Bhakti
« on: July 10, 2009, 08:00:22 PM »
Topic from yet to be published book.  


                                                  Intellectual Bhakti*
Question by a seeker:  Recently I was told that I should develop more devotion towards the divine in order to come closer to God.  I am an intellectual type and cannot sit down and pray someone or something that I cannot perceive as God.  Bhakti is a tendency of the heart to have feelings of devotion towards the Divine.  It is not an intellectual affair, which can be solved by the intellect.  It is the well-known heart vs. head "problem".  How can I develop deep devotion towards God?    

Sadananda: Sir, you may be surprised to know that true devotion is not emotional, but it is actually intellectual.  Since you say you are intellectual, you already have all the ingredients to be a devotee.

What does intellectual mean?  Intellect is that which seeks for a rational explanation.  When the intellect cannot come up with a rational explanation that is when true wonder starts.  True devotion starts.

Look at the cosmos.  Look at the order in the cosmos, from planetary motion to motion of galaxies and super galaxies.  The intellect cannot comprehend any more the magnitude of the universe, nor the universal laws and the operation of these to the minutest details.  The very questioning intellect goes blank in trying to comprehend that which is beyond human comprehension.  Any ordered system has low entropy and work has to be expended to create such an order and to keep it in that order.  It cannot be done by just random process, since the laws governing the cosmic system are universal. You cannot but admire that power which is the source for such incredible order in the ever-expanding limitless universe. Your intellect cannot but bow down to that superior intelligence; and that my friend is true devotion.

Look at your own body - millions of cells - all precisely located, every limb and every organ functions in its own sphere and yet all synchronized to a perfect order. We just dump something into our stomach.  However, what happens to the food as it goes into the stomach - the gastric juices, the enzymes of the right type and right order and in the right sequence have to act for the digestion to continue. The digestive system, the circulatory system, the distribution system - the excretory system, everything functions so beautifully without our input.  A minutest cell remote in the body, gets its nourishment. What an incredible machine the body is; a fantastic system that even tries to repair itself.  We cannot make an outside mechanical pump function for more than a couple of years without any problem, as we experience with our cars.  However, look at the marvelous pump made of simple muscles and tissues, pumping day in and day out, whether we are awake
or asleep.  The process is beyond any intellectual comprehension. We do not know what life is, yet its manifestation makes just organic inert matter to enliven to the degree that it is nothing short of a miracle.  If there is a creator or if there is a superior intelligence in the universe, I do not need any further proof than what I see:  a human being, a mosquito, a small bug, an ant or a single cell or even a DNA.  What an incredible information about the whole human being and all stored in an embryo and how it can multiply itself to produce such a complex systems.  Our intellect goes blank - that is devotion.

You see, devotion is not emotional display of feelings but natural emotional expressions that arise because of intellectual appreciation.  Intellect cannot but appreciate the incredible order and beauty in the universal systems which religions call it as creation. One cannot but admire looking at a tree, looking at a flower, looking at a simple leaf - His signature, His glory, His presence.  That is the true devotion.  Recognizing His presence everywhere - from tinniest bug to gigantic beings, love of a mother to her child, growth of baby to adult - life is incredible - watching the life itself is a greatest entertainment if one is sensitive enough.

Everyone is selfishly looking after oneself - a local disturbance in the total order - yet that is the part of the beauty - everyone is selfish yet at the grandeur level that is all within the order.  I get greatest entertainment just watching people, particularly sitting in the airports when I have nothing else to do.  It is amazing how people run around each concerned with himself and how people try to get what they want or what they think they deserve - conflicting each other and complaining about each other.  Everyone feels his or her problems are most severe - yet the whole universe moves forward - in perfect harmony. Thousands of years ago, people must have the same problems - how to raise their children, how to cope up with competition, how to make more at the expense of others.  Each one thinking that their problems are the most severe and more important than others.  Some crying for departed souls, some celebrating for the new arrivals, some
enjoying their good luck, while others cursing for their bad luck; yet everything is in order. Same thing thousands of years ago, same thing now and same thing will be there thousands of years from now.  Everything is in order. Some complain, that is also part of the order. Some cause others to complain, that is also part of the order.  Just stand back and enjoy the tamaasha or entertainment. You cannot but marvel at His incredible play, just stand apart and enjoy; that is devotion.

Devotion is not necessarily sitting and praying some imaginary forms or concepts, but also involves admiring the beauty of creation and joy of life.  That is devotion and that is meditation.  You do not want to change the system, you do not want things to be different from what they are, and you just stand apart and see the incredible play that is going on. That is devotion.  For this, one needs incredible intellectual observation, not a sharp intellect that divides but subtle intellect that integrates, not an analytical mind that differentiates but a synthetic mind that integrates.  In Sanskrit, it is called suukshma (subtle) buddhi in contrast to tiikshNa buddhi (sharp intellect).

In Kenopanishad - the true devotion is defined beautifully:  I will give only the English version: "That which the mind cannot think, but because of which the mind has the capacity to think; that alone is Brahman not this that you worship", "That which the speech cannot speak, but because of which one has the capacity to speak; that alone is Brahman not this that you worship", "That which the eyes cannot see, but because of which the eyes have the capacity to see; that alone is Brahman not this that you worship", "That which the ears cannot hear but because of which the ears have the capacity to hear; that alone is Brahman not this that you worship". Devotion to that is true meditation. That is where the intellectual inquiry goes to stand still at the altar of the Almighty; and that is true surrenderance and that is true Bhakti.

Hence, sir, you have the right equipment to develop devotion.  In fact, you are more blessed provided you direct your mind into right understanding of the nature of the truth - and that is what is being discussed as the inquiry of Brahman in the Brahmasuutras.  Seeking God is understanding God - One understands when one realizes that there is no more to understand and there is no more to seek and that is true devotion and true surrenderance. When one is no more either to understand or to seek, he has surrendered to Him. Intellectual bhakti should give the intellectual humility and intellectual surrenderance – that is prapatti and that is sharaNaagati.

In the final analysis, true bhakti should lead to true understanding and true understanding should lead to true Bhakti.  Love for the Almighty converges to Love for oneself since love unites rather than divides.  Love divine is pure love itself, since there is no more duality and that is the same as state of Joy.  Any love culminates in identity or oneness.  Everyone loves that which gives happiness and love for one’s own self is the discovery that one is the very embodiment of happiness itself and that my friend is pure devotion or pure love where the object of love and subject that is loving have united into one.  That is the culmination of Bhakti and same as the culmination of jnaana.

* Taken from the pages of the book ‘Discussions on Advaita Vedanta” by Dr. K. Sadananda, under publication.

« Last Edit: April 06, 2015, 12:29:49 PM by Dr. Sadananda »