With Bhakti Yoga (devotional yoga) you’ll find that after hearing devotional singing, even when you're driving your car, somehow you'll hear within yourself some of the bhajans sung and find yoruself singing. Sometimes this may go on for weeks or months. You’ll get joy out of singing one line because it contains the name of the Lord.

Who is the Lord? We don’t really know. But we’ve been given the opportunity to see the Lord, the great Supreme Intelligence Who lies within each of us. Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, “I am the cause of all causations”. You have a choice. Life has given you many choices. Krishna has given us in the Bhagavad Gita many choices on our spiritual journey. If you don’t like one kind of yoga, there are other kinds to choose from. Gnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, and others. So, straining the body with some fantastic yoga discipline (like in the USA where every second shop is a yoga studio), is not necessary. There is a form of Yoga for everyone.

Yoga is the union between you and God. Your connection to God is like talking on the phone. You can talk to somone on the phone overseas via the telephone connection. If there is no connection, you won't be able to talk. If you don't push the buttons to make the connection, you will not connect. Like yoga, the connection must be there to talk to God. You need to make the connection. Devotion is so very important in our lives. In the Bhagavad Gita, again, Krishna says, “Give me a twig or a leaf with devotion and I will accept it.” The key word is devotion. Why did he say leaf? He didn’t ask for expensive distracting material things. You are given all the options and opportunities to worship in a simple form. “Do not build me a golden temple” He said, "because I reside in your heart". Even Buddha said, “Don't worship me in statutes, worship me in your heart”.

Our devotion and dedication is what takes us to God. It is the most important aspect of this journey. But it comes with many obstacles, obstacles unlimited. Fortunatley, the solutions are also unlimited. Mahatma Gandhi says, “Anytime you have a problem, turn to the pages of the Bhagavad Gita, where Krishna very nicely answers all your questions and gives solutions to all your problems”.

Bhakti is devotion, the foundation of any spiritual journey. Besides Bhakti you should have a guru in some form. The Hindus say 'mata, pita, guru, deva', that is, 'mother, father, guru, then God'. In the Hindu tradition, when child is born, the first person it sees is the mother, then the father (the mother could introduce anyone as the father). The father takes the child to school, to the guru. The guru will take the child to God, whoever your guru is – they will know the route. They might not know God but they will know the route. Krishna says, “I have many paths, choose any one. They all lead to me.” He also said, “He who gives me the greatest devotion and dedication, in his heart I reside”. Paramahamsa Yogananda said, “In the inner altar of your being is Ishwara – God - the highest form”. Reside with that Ishwara within yoruself.

The Bhagavad Gita talks a lot about the blind king and his hundred sons. Gurushaktra is this physical body, the battle is there every day, the hundred sons are our desire, greed, hate, envy, and other negative influences that lead us away from God. The blind king is your ego. The soul wants these creepers of negativity removed. Only we can remove them by bhakti, our devotion to God. This can only be achieved through your guru – not any other way. There should be a guru-disciple relationship present on your journey, and once you have that, you don’t have to see your guru daily. My Master has attained mahasamadhi (conscious exit of the physical body - physical death). By dropping my eyelids and shutting myself off from the apparent material reality, I can be with my Master and I meditate with my Master. He gives me instructions. We can all attain that.

Becoming spiritual is not a desire – it is one of the requirements we’re born with in this life, and the reason for our birth is to show bhakti. Our attainment in this life is what determines our position in the next. If we give a hundred percent of ourselves to God in this life, we won’t suffer in the next life. This is the preparation ground for our next life. Both Paramahamsa Yogananda and Swami Vivekananda said that the world is a stage, and we are just actors, when we've finished our part, we go back to our source. Think of a play at school. When you don’t act properly in a school play you are sent back to do it again until you get it right. It's the same with life. Once you act properly, then you qualify for the greater audience. This life is exactly like that.

How often do you search all over when your Guru is right here? Because that is your journey. Everything in life does not happen by coincidence. It is called 'sequential events of the Infinite'. As long as there is bhakti and devotion the energy of the Supreme will be present. You’ll feel it. It has to be from the heart. When I sing 'guruve namashivaya', it is to the guru within you I refer. Once you find a guru, hold on for dear life and see where the guru takes you. Gurus are very strange people. They won't show you the road immediately - they know your mental capacity is like a monkey’s. Students will visit gurus and compare them. There is no comparison between gurus. You can’t say one guru or religion is better than another. There's no such thing. That is materialism. Any religion that brings down any other belief is far from God and realization. First comes self-realization, the most difficult realization, because we live in this apparent reality and you think you are real. You’re not real. Anything that is real does not change. The only thing that does not change is the Truth. The only thing that is Truth lies within us, athma of the soul. It cannot be “contaminated, dried, wet or burned”. Krishna talks about the soul in these words. There's a saying that goes: “many brothers and sisters I've had; many fathers' mothers, companions”. In this present lifetime you may not remember them, but in other lifetimes we have been together. Sometime in our past lives, we had some association, therefore we meet again in this life.

So with bhakti, with divine and complete devotion to God and your master, nothing for you is impossible - nothing in this world is impossible. What you put out into the universe is what you get back. There are many kinds of karma. The latest kind is called 'bomerang karma' when you throw it out, it comes back to you. If you have bhakti, devotion, and follow the instructions of your guru, nothing will be an obstacle. Listen to your guru. Forget everyone else around you. Listen and you will attain. Attainment is what we are all here for; for some kind of peace, eternal bliss. We can all attian that. One who is ignorant is bound to darkenss, one who is ignorant and intelligent is bound to deeper darkness. But one who is knowlegable in attainment is light. Once you find that light, you must know you're knowledgeable. What is that knowledge? It is nothing that can be found in a book. Close your eyes and meditate and you will get that knowledge.

Swami Shankarananda