Triyoga-Internal Martial Arts

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Four Bhaktas

"...the Gita distinguishes between four kinds of bhaktas. There are
those who turn to him as a refuge from sorrow and suffering in
the world, arta. There are those who seek him as the giver of
good in the world, artharthı. There are those who come to him
in the desire for knowledge, jijnasu. And lastly there are those
who adore him with knowledge, jnanı. All are approved by the
Gita, but only on the last does it lay the seal of its complete
sanction. "

Essays on the Gita
Sri Aurobindo

Several ideas crop up. One that seems common is that India has more bhakti than the west, that there is in Indian cultural life more awareness of devotion. In the west we are more oriented towards the mental life. This idea or its variations is something I can identify with somewhat. Studying Bharatanatym, classical temple dance I encountered the idea of the Navarasa, the nine basic moods. These are used to define characters and each has a collection of supports...Bhava is mental state to be portrayed by the dancer. Sthayi Bhava is the 8 main states, one of which will be carried throughout the drama and all other emotions support of that theme. For instance Rati, love. Sattvika Bhava, 8 in number are controlled by a concentrated mind during the expressional part of the performance and reflect the state of the character, for instance crying. Vyabhicari Bhava is a temporary mental state that is a phase that supports the working out of the Sthayi Bhava, for instance in Rati there can be Vitarka which is doubt and insecurity. Picture the second guessing in the first stages of love before the couple is secure in their relationship. There are 33 of these supporting states.

This shows a very highly developed form of emotional intelligence and power to control and use the emotional faculty.

So for me I had to pass through various stages of mentally coming to know my emotional life. Partly this is learned by life experience and slowly coming to recognize emotional-mental interactions. Most political dialog is emotionally driven. See the Fox news network and ask what is the emotional appeal? Most ignorance serves to allow emotional indulgence. I have worked with many martial artists who were addicted to survival emotions, and it formed the core of their personality.

People generally are more or less developed in this regard. Some people have good languages for describing people and motivations and some do not. Some people know what the word compassion means, but don't really feel it. They are often not aware of the disconnect between the their ideas and the experience. There are also many people who lack the idea of developed feelings, for instance using music to control mood is the Ipod experience, but how many are aware that that is what they are doing? Many people live in a world that is subject to emotions, and at best seek to control/limit the emotions rather than creating them. The main thrust of basic spiritual practice is to remove the avoiding of our feelings. We act and distract ourselves from dealing with feelings. When we speak of purification in spiritual practice this is often one of the first results, the purification of pent emotions, or working through imbalances that cause strong emotions to well up, such as fear, anixiety, anger, laughter.

Out of this realization of this dimension then I can began move upward. But it isn't really a matter of bhakti is not a western thing, it is just that awareness and language of it isn't as well developed. This was the mistake in my thinking; that bhakti wasn't a western thing, confusing the outward forms. If we assume that bhakti, or devotion to the Divine is already there in potential and that has we grow spiritually it will begin to emerge and find expression then we can see it all around.

Mental knowledge can get in the way here. One thing that I find is that I know people who have the idea of Bhakti and will look at the four categories of Bhaktas and they won't relate it to personal experience and begin to see those four possibilities in themselves.

Arta, those who seek refuge from suffering. I have met many people who are involved in Church activities for this very reason. They see the church as their anchor because of loss of loved ones, personal battles with medical problems, etc. These are not people that I interact with much day to day. But talking to people who do hospice for instance... This type of Bhakti is often produced by life circumstances. The world view of these area as its own set of supporting emotions and ideas. I know many people who pray for others or donate some of their mantra practice to helping others, this is bhakti.

Artharthı, those who see the Divine as the giver of good. I definitely have lived this aspect, and I would include those who look to nature with a sense of beauty and a call to peacefulness and purity as in this area. Their bhakti may not be named as such but it is part of their expression. We may not think of sun and snow while cross country skiing as a religious practice, but it can be a connection to spirit. The lord will provide. Thank GOD!

Jijnasu, this is the person who comes seeking knowledge. Providence, one of the great lost words. I find it interesting to note the number of people who I have met who are still caught in the battle between the people who follow the mythology of Christ's resurrection, versus those who follow the teachings of Christ and the battles that gave us the idea that you can't know the mind of God. Some people are very insistent that you can't know why something happened etc. However I would state that many times it if you look clearly you can see intuitively what it was about and see the flow of things. Many people begin to differentiate between nature and spirit by recognizing those moments when people and events flow together. It is not the moments themselves, but the recognition of the flow... Seeking greater knowledge of the self and feeling the gratitude as things become clear is definitely part of bhakti. Using that knowledge to surrender and going deeper into the bliss...

Making a list of supporting emotional states that though temporary support the bhakti of the heart would have to include things like, calm, receptive, peaceful, gratitude, laughter, sincerity, compassion, etc...


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