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Article CIII: Love and Nonattachment

"Love is a consistent passion to give, not a meek persistent hope to receive. The only demand of life is the privilege to love all." Swami Chinmayananda

Bhakti is one of the major paths of Vedanta, and it is perhaps the most common. Bhakti can be translated as devotion, love, and faith. Classically, bhakti refers to love of God as a deity, often in the context of worship and surrender. God as a deity is known as Iswara in Vedanta. Because God is infinite, God manifests through infinite forms. Iswara can be represented as Krishna, Kali, Shiva, Venkateswara, Saraswati, Ganesha, Vishnu, etc. In any form, Iswara represents an ideal one can aspire toward.

Bhakti can also signify love outside of the context of God as a deity. Vedanta offers that the true nature of each person is essentially Divine, which means that God exists within all people. Thus the love of bhakti yoga also applies to how one loves others. Aspiring to love and appreciate the Divine within others is a form of bhakti as well. The love of Iswara is often described in terms of human relationships, e.g. loving Iswara as a parent, loving Iswara as a teacher, loving Iswara as a friend, loving Iswara as a child, or loving Iswara as a spouse. The implications of such love for Iswara illustrate how one can love others with that same kind of spiritual passion.

Selflessness is a central theme in discussions of karma yoga, and this ideal of selflessness applies to the love of bhakti yoga as well. Selfless love allows for the dissolution of one's ego to reveal true Divinity within. When one's love is selfless, one's joy is independent of any situation. Selfless love reveals bliss that is not dependent on results of love. Just as one can aspire to be nonattached in selfless action of karma yoga, one can aspire to be nonattached in selfless love of bhakti yoga. Love without attachment frees one from the results of that love so that peace results independent from all circumstances. Ultimate selfless love reveals the eternal, infinite bliss of enlightenment!

East-West Counseling & Meditation -- Modern Psychiatry Integration -- Himalayan Philosophy -- Penn & Stanford Medicine
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