Initiation isn’t the end of anything, of course…it’s just the beginning. Today, I wonder with hope and holy fear if I’m capable of living up to a devotional name, the practices I will be vowing to keep and the regulative principles of spiritual life that come with it? I wonder how and when and why my faith will be tested because it always is! And I pray that I will keep my faith no matter what.
The essence of Bhakti yoga is the cultivation of devotional practices, in order to gradually awaken the dormant love of God that dwells in the heart (some people prefer the word “divinity”). Throughout my entire life, I have been in love with this idea, that loving God is what it’s all about, that all love flows from the cultivation of this first and last love, and yet until I found the path of Bhakti, the cultivation of the love of God was abstract and intangible. For me, and I can only speak for myself, the path of Bhakti has been the only thing that I have ever done that has surpassed the temporary highs of all the “peaks” I’ve ever experienced, from drugs, sex, rock n roll, to intense psychedelics, charismatic Christian experiences, intellectual adventures, art, and even the physical practice of yoga or meditation.
For me, Bhakti has been like a very slowly, very subtly, produced spark. By chanting the names of God each day for several years, by reading the glorification of God in the shastras, singing kirtan with devotees, worshipping the deities and keeping home altars, the feeling that I am in love with God, actually thinking of God, missing God, and feeling God’s presence, has grown more acute than ever before in my life. And yet, it is but a tiny tiny spark of what I now understand is the potential of this love. Because even though I feel drawn to God in my heart and emotions more than ever, when I objectively survey my life, I recognize that I am still just a beggar at the gates of this infinite love.
My greatest revelation has been that there is no high that grants us love, there is no instant wisdom or idea, or medicine, that delivers its reality into the heart. We love so very little compared to how much we like the idea of love. This is the first realization I can share with people on the day of my initiation. Until I started practicing love of God consistently, I only liked the idea of the love of God…which IS something, it’s not nothing…but now, it’s just a tiny little something more than a nice idea…and if I have any good fortune and continue doing my best to practice Bhakti yoga for the rest of my life, come what may, then maybe this tiny little spark will be fanned into a fire! Who knows. Even if it doesn’t, it is my prayer that I will continue chanting, singing, and serving until the causeless mercy of Krishna descends into my heart. No matter how many lifetimes I have to sing because it already feels better to sing this song than anything else.
So, I’m sharing this with all of you because so many of you have been such dear spiritual friends to me over the years. We’ve shared so many stories and so many ups and downs with astrology and with spiritual life in general. I ask for your prayer and blessing over this ceremony, and I also ask for your blessing in receiving a new devotional name, which I know will take time for some to adjust to…but it will make my heart really happy if you will accept the change along with me!
Thanks, everyone! Hare Krishna! 🙂
– The astrologer formerly known as “Adam.”