Recently, while reading Stephen Mitchell’s introduction to the Bhagavad Gita I came across a description of paths to realization, including bhakti yoga, the path of devotion. Devotion is not a word I have never even thought about before, and then it appeared in this context of the bhakti yoga as a spiritual path of love, and it just took hold of me, its resonance was so clear. The very word burned into me a little. Aki shared with me an article quoting Osho on devotion. Osho describes devotion as an invisible quality:
“Whatever is visible to you, a shadow of the invisible has also begun to appear within it. If you stop at what is visible, devotion will never be born in you.”
I have had this feeling for soooooo long that there is always so much more than what meets our eyes…the world is full of wonderful mystery, intricate depth and meaningful merging of pattern, warmth, creativity, self existing wisdom and ‘blessed incidence.’ And when this invisible quality begins to appear within the visible, the universe unfolds with untold delight and loving vibration. To paraphrase Osho,
“We listen for the sound of the invisible approaching; we hear the footsteps of that which cannot be heard. Our senses have become ecstatic, we are thrilled with the joy of that which is beyond all our senses.”
This enlivens our being like nothing else can.
Osho says the beginnings of devotion, the first glimpse of devotion, comes through one’s lover; love is the first lesson in devotion. In my experience the roots of love and devotion are in the same seed. In love there is that unmistakable moment of recognition of something amazing and wonderful in another, something you cannot see, but that you feel with all your being. Like the moon reflecting on the water, we see the light but don’t truly grasp the source. Perhaps this is only fleeting, but nonetheless it existed and you felt it. Love may be like a light shower of rain, and then, allowing ones heart to open fully with devotion is like letting the floodgates part, devotion is a flood – allowing an ocean of love to pour forth. Devotion is not superficial love, it has nothing to do with anything about the ego, of the visible self we see, but rather that which we cannot see, a love that is deep and vast of a primordial force within us known to be true. I smile when Osho says that with devotion, there is no way to get out of it. I have often felt myself rolling with this tide and although I might want (for some egoic reason) to stop myself, to hang onto the shore or swim the other way, I cannot do it. There is no going back.
“Wheresoever there is love, use it to search further.”
We can, as Osho says, use this feeling of love to uncover something much greater. In the prison of love, devotion lies there in waiting, waiting to be exposed, and waiting for the refinement and purification, like a diamond in the rough. Herein the discovery of the divine is possible. Osho says,
“Godliness is hidden in love – release it. Make your love more like a prayer… Gradually the impurities in your love will melt away. And as these impurities melt, a pure flame of light begins to manifest. This flame is called devotion.”
“I cannot forget your remembrance,
It is as if someone is forever pinching at my heart.”
I know this feeling Osho describes… Something has been perpetually tickling me, drawing my attention ever after this somewhat elusive perception, a longing in my heart for purity in love…Moving toward the Beloved with devotion is like moving toward the warmth of the flame, toward something remembered, toward big love. My prayer becomes a love song.
“A picture of the divine is hidden in everyone’s heart. The divine is hidden in all faces.”
I see the promise of the divine in everybody's face. At the core of our being we know what Osho says is true. And this truth leads us to this searching, searching all of our lives for this pure, pristine, sparkling kind of love.
“I searched for you outside of myself and didn’t find you. Now I will search within. I searched for you in the body, in matter, in form, in beauty, and you were not there. Now I will search for you beyond beauty, in the formless.“
We glimpse the divine in the ephemeral. We are drawn to the formless. Osho uses the metaphor of “burning in the heart.” He calls the burning of devotion a cool kind of burning that awakens us. In this fire we do not remain in our body, “your body is lost and only the awakened consciousness remains.” This is where we see the divine reflected in everything…a thousand-fold reflection in an instant.
Through longing, we uncover an aspect of devotion Osho describes so beautifully. Osho says,
“The divine is searching for you.”
God is longing for us just as we are longing for God. There is a sad/joyful quality to this sweet longing. My heart has ached for God. Why were we apart for so long?
God is my Beloved; we have found each other. By opening, allowing, and loving, an open secret is revealed, merging in me, as close as my own breath. With this realization, a shimmering glow is cast like light on the water, everywhere, as a wonder to behold.
I love you, Beloved, with certain and abiding devotion.