Thursday
Jan032013

Bhakti in Balancing The Pursuit of Material Happiness

In my previous post I opened up the topic of Bhakti in Advaita Life Coaching, as one of the three paths described in the Bhagavad Gita. Kirtan chanting as a Bhakti practice has taken root among a fair number of people as popularized by Krishna Das and others.

In the ALC framework of physical, mental and subtle functioning, the tools provided by the Bhakti path play a role to align the mental to the subtle. Our mental functions give rise to our material experiences of space and of past, present and future. Certain types of material experiences we consume give rise to a sense of satisfaction. The pursuit of continuance of such satisfaction is our pursuit of material happiness. If we get a taste of enormous sense of wellbeing from playing very well in a competitive arena whether it be in academics, sports or as a technology geek, we want to try and continually sustain that sense of wellbeing. Our energies then are channeled towards making that experience repeat itself.

The reality of our universe of material experience is that it is ever changing. The discontinuity of our material experiences is all that is guaranteed. And when that happens, we say our dreams are shattered. It is indeed a telling comment we make. Intuitively we see our pursuit of material happiness as being dreams, not a reality, but we act as if they were the only thing that matters. That is the "leela" that Advaita Life Coaching focuses on - as roles we play in the myriad theaters of life that we find oursevles in.

Balancing our pursuit of material happiness is Bhakti, a path of pursuing the subtle aspect in ourselves. If we chant during a Kirtan, we do it with the same passion and commitment as when we pursue our material dream then we are practicing Bhakti. The use of the tool of Bhakti requires as much, if not more, dedication and practice as what you have to put into becoming a champion swimmer for example. A specific Kirtan chant has an underlying vibration combined with a breathing pattern that helps your physical and mental functioning connect with the subtle aspect of yourself.

And as I say in the first chapter titled A Provocation, of The Advaita Life Practice, you can be sure that practicing the Bhakti path will help you find a balance. In that balance your probability of making the next high watermark of material goals (the next million(s) of dollars, the next promotion, the next award) is likely to go down. It is a tradeoff you have to think of making. The Bhakti path is not for everyone. It requires a quiet courage, a sustained reaching out for the subtle which by its very nature cannot be touched by the material even as it encompasses it. And be sure that it is an integral part of your functioning, in every breath.

Jayant Kalawar is the author of The Advaita Life Practice, available at Amazon.

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