Bhakti, or spiritual devotion, is based on the doctrine “Love is God, and God is love.” A bhakta-devotee is in love with his Deity. The Deity is the beloved, and the devotee is the lover. The bhakta or lover experiences separation and longs to meet or even just glimpse his beloved. Nothing else attracts him; nothing else holds his attention; all else is meaningless, food, sleep, sex, attachments, responsibilities — all are no longer important. He is dominated by his sense of separation and cries in ecstasy to have a glimpse of the Lord. When the bhakti is blessed by divine grace he feels an undivided union, and nondual consciousness prevails. He and his Lord then are one, and a Divine experience assures the devotee of grace that comes from the Divine.
Bhakti is the most direct method, the shortest way to experience the Divine. All yoga and knowledge, gyana, rests on the foundation stone of true faith, true devotion, true bhakti. There is nothing higher than love, and bhakti is the religion of love. Love is indeed God. To kindle the candle of love with the spark of knowledge, and to do the yoga of love, is bhakti.
In the final stage of the opening of the sixth chakra, when the player has become liquid and pure, he understands the real value of the game.
He understands reality both as it exists and as it appears. He knows the necessity of the plane of austerity, and of gyana, right knowledge, and sudharma, selfless service. He sees too that anger, conceit, nullity, sorrow, and ignorance are all meaningful aspects of experience. He is beyond all valuations. Everything has equal meaning and validity. He knows that as long as he remains in the body his karma die will lead him on his journey, stage by stage, square by square. He knows he will fall victim to serpents along the way, just as he knows he will find arrows as well.
All around himself the player sees the same game enacted by others, all passing through the same states at different rhythms and at varying intensities. He has attained stability in himself by mastering his will. For further development he now needs an emotional center for his life. To lose his identifications he can do nothing other than identify with the Divinity, in one form or all. One form becomes every form at this moment, the moment the player lands in bhakti-loka. In whatever form he finds the Divine, all other forms are magically present. The form literally becomes the Deity, which in turn becomes the devotee, an ecstatic bhakta. Earlier the player did not accept Leela — play — as his basic nature and remained caught in sixth-chakra vibrations until his energy accelerated too rapidly and became violent. But acceptance of Leela gives him devotion to the game itself.
He experiences the squares as a play of divine energy, and he feels oneness with each of them. They are all manifestations of his Lord. True bhakti, therefore, comes in the sixth chakra. Knower and known, subject and object, deity and devotee — all become One. In the sixth chakra the player understands this, and thus the many become a whole.
In the fourth chakra there is duality. Unity comes after knowledge is gained, in the fifth chakra. Without spiritual devotion the player begins to think in terms of an ocean. Spiritual devotion is the arrow that rakes the drop to the ocean, after the drop has first realized the presence of the ocean within itself.
This is the only direct path to Cosmic Consciousness. The essence of Cosmic Consciousness could not be realized by sheer gyana or right knowledge. It is spiritual devotion that converts Cosmic Consciousness into a friend and gives a face-to-face realization of the Divine to the player. Knowledge and wisdom only provide an awareness of the cosmic principle. Devotion lets the player see the Absolute manifested in all experience. The Divine presence is everywhere, in everything.
Gyana makes a wise man out of the player, while bhakti makes him a divine child, ever in the warm lap of his mother and under the benevolent protection of his father. A wise man has to travel a long distance to see God. The bhakta is continually surrounded by the Deity in his myriad names and forms, in the sum total of life experience.