The final goal of all living entities is “Ananda” (आनंद) or spiritual happiness. This goal, is not set by the individual. It is in the natural design of the living entity. The quality of “Ananda” that the living entity seeks is by design, other-worldly, growing with every second, infinite in nature and timeless. Such a goal is achievable only when one attains the “Love of the Lord”. The living entity has been in the search of such spiritual happiness since time immemorial and has been toiling in each of its incarnations to attain the same. In spite of this effort, the living entity has not been able to taste even the shadow of the semblance of such happiness. The reasons have been elucidated in the Scriptures, especially in the Srimad Bhagavatham. Since the living entity is averse to the Lord, the external illusory potency of the Lord, Maya has been dominating the living entity which is also known as the jeev (जीव). Because of the domineering nature of Maya on the jeev, the jeev becomes forgetful of its spiritual constitution. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says ” jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya — kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa'”, which means “The original spiritual constitution of the living entity is that of eternal subordination to the Supreme Lord”. This is because the living entity in reality is a spark of the Lord.
The Gita says that “The living entity is one of the energies of the Lord.” Hence the spirit soul is a part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. That part and parcel is therefore the eternal servitor of the Lord. The effect of Maya is such that the living entity or jeev becomes forgetful of his eternal position. As a result of this forgetfulness, the jeev considers itself as the “body”, a product of Maya. The result is that the jeev considers the relations of the body as his own relatives. For example an individual considers father, mother, brother, friend, spouse as one’s relatives. But these relatives are formed because of one’s bodily existence. This is Maya. Because of the power of Maya, the living entity gets attached to the bodily relations. In this way, the living entity spends millions of lifetimes, changing relatives and getting attached to new relatives in successive incarnations. The living entity has been transmigrating through 8.4 million species through endless cycles, each cycle equal to 12 hours of Lord Brahma, which is 4.32 billion years. All through these endless cycles, the living entity fails to attain even a drop of the infinite ocean of spiritual bliss. This is the jeev’s misfortune. Little did the jeev realize that the Ananda which the jeev is seeking unconsciously, is at the feet of the Lord. This forgetfulness, the Vedic scriptures call “spiritual sickness”. This sickness is only caused because we have turned our backs to the Lord. The cure to this disease is simply, turning ourselves towards the Lord. So what are the means to be able to be “face to face with the Lord?”.
The process of Karma and Jnana can never get anyone 100% “face to face” with the Lord. This is possible only through the unsullied path of Bhakti. There are 9 typical classifications of Bhakti known as “Navadha Bhakti” (नवधा भक्ति) namely:
Hearing the Lord’s Pastimes (श्रवण Shravan):
To listen incessantly with unquenchable thirst, with utmost devotion to the Leela (लीला story), significance, power, source, etc. of God.
Eulogizing, speaking, singing, praising the Lord (कीर्तन Kirtan):
To perform the Kirtan with the joy and enthusiasm of the qualities, character, name, might etc. of God.
Remembering the Lord (स्मरण Smaran):
Continually remembering God in a unique sense, remembering his greatness and power and being enchanted by Him.
Prostrations to the Lord (पाद सेवन Pada Sevan):
Taking shelter of the feet of God and considering Him as your all.
Worshipping the Lord (अर्चन Archan):
Worshiping the feet of God with holy articles by thought, word and deed.
Recognizing the Greatness of the Lord (वंदन Vandan):
To greet the devotees, Acharyas, Brahmins, Gurujans (teachers) , parents etc. in the idol of God or as a part of the Lord, with reverence and service in the Holy Spirit.
Accepting the Lord as one’s Master (दास्य Dasya):
To serve God as master with devotion we being His servitor.
Accepting the Lord as one’s Friend (सख्य Sakhya):
Convincing God to be your ultimate friend, surrendering oneself to him and requesting His friendship in true sense.
Surrender everything to the Lord (आत्मनिवेदन Atma-Nivedan):
Surrender oneself forever at the feet of God and not keeping anything independent of Him.
Among the nine processes the 3rd process, Smaran, Remembering the Lord is the most important and vital for our spiritual practice. The real form and philosophy is “Remembering the Lord” alone. Our mind has to be attached to the Lord. The faculty of the mind is the primary aspect in this process. It is the mind that contemplates. The mind does not wait for work like the other senses. It is in a continuous mode of thinking and generating emotions. The activities of the mind are categorized as “good”, belonging to this world; “bad” belonging to this world; and “spiritual” belonging to our true constitutional position. Doing good and bad activities takes the soul to higher or lower planetary systems after death. When the mind is involved with spiritual thoughts, concerning the Lord, the soul shall verily go to the Abode of the Lord, when the soul does not have to return again.
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