09.02: Bhakti makes the spiritual journey a joyful journey
Emotions are one of our defining features that differentiate us conscious beings from unconscious things. As matter doesn’t have the capacity to experience emotions, the presence of that capacity in us demonstrates that there is more to our identity than matter; we are spiritual beings. Yet it is a sad irony that the very emotions that demonstrate our spiritual identity also often obfuscate that identity. Our emotions generally tend to get activated primarily by matter in its various colors and shapes, thereby keeping us attached and bound to the material world.
Consequently, those in the spiritual kindergarten labor under the notion that becoming spiritual requires becoming unemotional, a prospect that is dreary to envision and difficult to implement. These people often tend to see bhakti condescendingly as simplistic sentimentality. Gita wisdom gently urges them to please see again or PSA, an acronym that indicates the three subtle steps in the remarkable redirection of emotions that bhakti brings about: Purify, Sanctify, Amplify:
- Purify: Bhakti frees us from the control of selfish and short-sighted material emotions that bind us to worldly existence.
- Sanctify: Bhakti infuses emotions into our connection with Krishna so that we don’t just intellectually acknowledge him as the Supreme Being but also emotionally adore him as our Supreme Beloved.
- Amplify: Bhakti reveals to us how Krishna is far more attractive than anything of the material world. This revelation gradually makes our emotions for him become stronger and deeper than for the material world, thereby bringing into our lives an emotional richness that we never knew was possible.
As emotions are natural to us and as bhakti utilizes our natural emotionality to fuel our spiritual journey, it is no wonder that the Bhagavad-gita (9.2) declares bhakti makes the spiritual journey a joyful journey.