Baba says, ‘I have come to make you a knowledgeable soul from a devotee soul’. The difference between bhakti (devotion) and gyan (knowledge) is like night and day, says Baba. Both have their time in the Drama, now is the time for knowledge.
We tend of think of devotion as deep love for God. But to love someone, you first need to know them. We get to know them by spending time with them, listening to and speaking to them, learning how they think and operate, understanding their values and principles. We then appreciate them, respect them and align our life with theirs. That is what we refer to as love.
In devotion, there is no concept of getting to know and spending time with God because the very idea of devotion is based on inequality where the devotee thinks of God as Higher than the High and himself as lower than the low. God is Almighty, I am a sinner. They believe that is God is displeased, He will curse or punish and so they follow all kinds of rituals and customs to please Him.
Devotion is full of sentiments and phrases such as ‘O God, I bow at your feet‘, ‘O God, I am your humble servant‘. They sing hymns and songs of worship, bow their heads and recite from the scriptures. Some undertake intense penance in the mountains or jungles so they can be blessed with a glimpse of the Supreme. Others undertake long, intense pilgrimages, fast, subject themselves to a lot of hard work and even suffering to please God so He may forgive their sins.
Is that love? Devotion is not love, it is..well, devotion. It is, as Baba says, not based on fact or knowledge but rather on blind faith. Blind faith serves no one.
Baba comes and gives us His own introduction. He says, ‘very few understand me truly as I am‘. He doesn’t want us to bow down at His feet or anyone else’s for that matter. He doesn’t need us to put ourselves through pain and suffering to find Him. He doesn’t consider us His servants and He certainly doesn’t want us to leave our families and responsibilities to retreat to the mountains.
He wants us to relate to Him – as His child, as His friend, as His student, as His Companion. He wants us to use our mind and intellect to listen to His knowledge and then decide for ourselves if what He is saying is right or wrong. He wants us to become self-respecting, confident and loving human beings. He wants us to be comfortable while also serving our brothers and sisters. He wants us to be happy.
And happiness comes not from reciting scripture but instead from understanding who I am – a soul, a divine being- and then living my life in that awareness and consciousness. My relationship with God is my guide, my reference on that journey of self-discovery.
One cannot experience God or attain Him through devotion, no matter how intense. God can only be experienced through love and remembrance. It is when we pull ourselves out of the very deep set consciousness of the sinner and move into one of the child, deeply loved by God. He is telling us who we are, let me listen and evaluate. Let me experiment with that consciousness for a little while and see if that makes sense, feels good and then do what my heart knows is right.
Don’t be afraid, just talk to Him.