Feelin’ a Little Country? Or a Little Bhakti?

by Milissa on July 31, 2011

in Chanting,Philosophy,Quotation,Yoga

I live my life somewhere between I-cocreate-with-the-Universe expansiveness and a somewhat stoic I-surrender-to-what-is state of mind. So, to quote a tasteless joke that circulated during my childhood, “I’m a mixed-up kid!”  (Forgive me if you remember the joke—totally different context here.)

How did I get here? And how do I reconcile these seemingly opposing world views?

I arrived at this place on my path via Bhakti Yoga, the practice of devotion to the Divine. For over a decade I fingered a mala—reciting a Sanskrit mantra 108 times as I went around the rosary—every day upon awakening. I chanted to numerous names and forms of God/dess—Shiva to the Virgin Mary—at ashrams from sea to shining sea. At times in small ways (and other times seismically) my heart opened, my body cleansed and my faith increased. But, really, was it faith, in the sense of belief?

In an elephant-headed god riding a mouse (though Lord Ganesha is dear to my heart)? Of course not! That’s not the point anyway.

Yoga as a spiritual practice is all about pointing the way inward to guha—the cave of the heart—where the indwelling Spirit lives. It was faith in my self (with a small “s”) to devotedly practice japa that brought me nearer to what the Upanishads call The Self—the inner being (beyond the ego) that is an expression of All that Is.

A few years ago, When I found these words by Nisargardatta in Yoga Journal, I felt all giddy and goosebumpy:

Wisdom tells me I am nothing. Love tells me I am everything.
And between the two my life flows.                     

In the past, I’d often felt mental whiplash going from Bhakti to Buddhism. From Metta to Conscious Manifesting. Quite frequently, I was harsh with myself for flipping to different—seemingly irreconcilable—beliefs and perspectives. Not surprisingly, I had no idea how to reconcile them.

Until recently.

I know I’ve been harping on this lately, but it’s such a revelation to me to actually be embodying greater self love (maybe because it leads to Self love). I’ve realized that taking away the harshness on myself is the key. Actually, it’s the path itself.

Do I really need to chastise myself for being all Bhakti one day, then a dirt-loving tree worshipper the next, and then getting all secular Buddhist on ya?

After all, they’re just different bandwiths. Some days we feel a little alt-country, some days we’re punked out. At least that’s always been the case for me. It’s not the practice, it’s what our lives look—and feel like—that matters. How we learn to live in loving relationship to ourselves, others, the earth, all beings everywhere.

This is the Union that Yoga promises. And it starts with the itty-bitty “s” part of us.

I’d love to hear what your sweet self is thinking and feeling about The Self! Please leave a comment below.

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