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7 lessons I learned from Hindu devotional spirituality

God’s remembrance can cause our spiritual transformation and take us closer to God.

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay
Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

While reading about Hinduism, I generally select articles and books that focus on devotional spirituality — the love of God. At times, this allows me to derive my own spiritual lessons from the works of devotional saints and then write down my interpretations of their messages in simple words. Given below are seven spiritual principles related to devotion that have attracted me.

Devotional spirituality focuses on forming a relationship of trust with God. Later, this love of God — called bhakti in the Hindu world — leads to surrender of the soul to the Divine. The ultimate aim of devotion is to gain permanent proximity to God.

Remembrance takes us closer to God

Remembrance happens to be one of the most powerful classical forms of devotion for seekers. Chanting and meditating — both have elements of God’s remembrance embedded within them. We can expect better care from God and his permanent proximity while we chant a name of God. Also, our remembrance of God eliminates all negative thought processes, like anger and greed, which create a major separation between our individual soul and God. Remembrance is potent enough to spiritually transform us into a saint one day.

God’s grace is easily available around us

It is the grace of God that becomes available as guidance and blessings from mentors and saints, as guidance from scriptures, as positive energy from places of worship, and as the development of virtues like forgiveness and patience, as I have previously mentioned in a blog post [1].

It is God’s grace that protects us from all kinds of sufferings, brings us in contact with true and spiritual friends, gets reflected as selflessness in our work, and provides us with food and other basic needs. God’s grace, in one of its highest forms, becomes devotion, which is accompanied by peace and eternal happiness. But it is our job, as spiritual seekers, to recognize the grace around us.

Prayers always work

God is very accessible to each living being and listens to all. Because God is all-pervading, we can even remember him periodically at our workplace and say a word or two to him whenever we feel like. We can request God for protection from sufferings of the body, mind, and soul; for spiritual guidance; for blessing us with more devotion towards him; and for our liberation from the universe. We can talk to him directly and ask for whatever we wish for.

Image by Frank Winkler from Pixabay

We can sow selflessness in our work

Devotional seekers are expected to see God in every being and the entire universe in God. Accordingly, they can serve God by helping out humans beings who are in distress. Community service connects us to compassion, an indispensable virtue on our spiritual journey.

Another classical way to sow selflessness in our actions is by renouncing attachment to material fruits — money and fame — and by recognizing God as the real doer. We can also perform simple actions for God at times, such as lighting a lamp in front of an image of God. Being unrelated to material profits, such devotional practices can sow the tendencies of selflessness within us.

Forgiveness cannot be ignored

Though seeking forgiveness from God may appear to be optional to spiritual beginners, it becomes an inherent quality of the devotional seeker. Just like politeness and perseverance, forgiveness automatically grows within us as we grow spiritually.

Forgiveness is closely associated with prayer. Realizing our mistakes makes it easy for us to change ourselves — towards goodness. In contrast, one of the antagonists to forgiveness — arrogance — is considered to be a major obstacle to spiritual growth.

God is the ultimate spiritual guide

Because our mind works in accordance with the laws of nature created by God, what we gain from scriptures and from our spiritual experiences is directly influenced by God. Once we learn to surrender to God, God starts guiding us towards himself through inspirations, visions, and other means, some of which may be unbelievable for beginners. Swami Vivekananda, the famous saint, has stated, “You have to grow from inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul” [2]. Recognizing God as the ultimate guru can make our spiritual journey easier.

God transcends everything

God, the real doer, is beyond the scriptures. Though God’s own words and the personal experiences of self-realized saints have been documented in scriptures, unnecessary attachment to a scripture or to a philosophical ideology, where applicable, can be a hindrance on our spiritual journey. Rather than developing a feel of possession towards our spiritual path, we should yearn for detachment and wisdom, which should naturally develop within us as we truly progress on the path of love.

While supporting righteousness, we should recognize that God is beyond goodness and beyond the mind. Accordingly, God cannot be reached solely by performing good work or by our intellect. This may be one of the reasons why love and surrender are considered essentials in devotional spirituality.

References

[1] “God’s grace may be essential for liberation.” Mukul’s Hinduism Blog. Jan 17, 2020. http://bit.ly/2SHQgNm

[2] “Learning, detachment, and sacred symbols.” The Times of India — Speaking Tree. Jan 27, 2020.

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