notes on bhakti: up the down staircase

The power of the ‘divine’/’human’ dream is that each perspective beckons the other. The micro is not broad enough, and the macro is too distant. The mind seeks pleasure in the transitional zone between the two, its pleasure deepening as its focus widens or narrows in a surge of learning. Becoming god is ecstatic, being god is not. Becoming man is entastic, being man is not. It is not enough to see that the categories of human and divine are dependent and intrinsic. The categories seduce only where they meet. The child does not play on the slide by resting at either the top or the bottom.

Consciousness does not want to arrive somewhere. Omniscience is a static ideal. Resolve everything to the snowdrop. Let the snowdrop catapult the mind to all things white.

Experience funnels upward, released of constraint. Skyward, into air element and its whorls. As quickly, experience plunges to earth to examine mosses and lichen. Move between the muddy feet of the toddler and flare of hawk. The transcendent impulse is born of the immanent plunge. I rise into the elk, into cat and squirrel. Rising, I find roots.

The interpenetration of human and divine categories is embodied in blending iconography. Jesus the god exposes the human heart; Hanuman the monkey rips open his chest to reveal Ram and Sita; in the morning I open my heart to release swallows and glowing missives through nervous wires. We are each embedded in each, in this, our transubstantial dialogue.


  • The disempowerment in the ‘shared consciousness’ dream is that it teeters on the sharp edge of narcissism that knows no empathic dialogue. The neglected micro deliberately overlooked, so the lone macro may bask in deluded grandeur. Real pleasure is repulsed when a singular being chases it’s own tail in circles, arrogantly dismissive of the notion that the transcendent side of the coin of samsara is mandala. Revolutions of one are agony, revolutions of the other ecstasy. Mistaking the two has been likened to spiritual suicide. The divine child merely plays with it’s own reflection, yet to be seduced enough by the game, the reflection begs for a separate existence. Ananda in lovemaking takes two or it’s simply masturbation. The distinct categories do not pertain merely to human and divine, but to multiple aspects of divinity dancing with itself in a circle! (Jung’s most loaded archetype, as you know.) So we inevitably see bhakti evolving beyond the unsophisticated, phallic-like, linear movements in the game of chutes and ladders you juxtapose it with. But rather, it transcends Jesus and Hanuman, and their revered masters on coronary thrones, and reaches the dancing gopi goddesses with Krishna, who know him intimately enough to tease him, scold him, kiss him. Divine kisses, though dynamic, are delicious with the flavorful juices of a ‘selective’ omniscience, that deliberately obscures itself for the sake of pleasure. And pleasure by nature is not static. So perhaps in drawing lines between becoming and being, you forget that, to the bhakti yogis, the two merge, so that the categories don’t have to. And in the end, substance remains singular, and it is anything but stagnant! They say that to taste it’s essence, one has to honor the other. Tune into the other. Desire the other’s pleasure more than one’s own, suddenly realizing that there is no difference between the two. The danger lies in jumping ahead. Then one misses bhakti all together! Elaborate or reevaluate. Your “notes” leave much to be desired, I am afraid. Or perhaps, I have misread.

    • thanks for the notes katarina. i don’t think you’ve misread, and surely my notes leave much to be desired. but i have a question for you. what does the word “divine” add to any conversation, about anything? how is it useful?

  • I love this – dancing the opposites, playing, and going beyond the duality. For me this is yoga, we use different paths to explore all of these reaches, and ultimately find that elusive balance – both and, where we find that we are both particle and wave, we are matter and energy, human and divine, and that neither can or need be sacrificed. This is known only when we’ve explored both sides and the door opens to viewing the ‘sacred in the mundane’ so to speak. Love it! Om…

  • I am of the belief that sometimes a question will say more about the person asking it, than the person answering it. It’s fascinating to me that you lump all conversations into a singular category, which seems to suggest that all individuals have the same semantic relationship with the word “divine”. As context sensitivity usually influences the principle of utility, I wonder if what you actually want to ask me has more to do with your own relationship with the ‘divine’/human’ experience that you initially open your note with. If the word ‘divine’ was not helpful to the expression of your thoughts, then why did you engage it to begin with? Why did you ‘use’ it in this conversation? Do you feel your initial use of it has subtracted from the dialogue that follows? (I see the gentleman above engages it as well). Might you be suggesting that we all deprive ourselves of exchanging ideas of deeper and more meaningful substance by confining consciousness to duality, and any conversation that does so is one of little value? Unless we each arrive at a mutually agreed upon definition of divine, wouldn’t we just be resigning ourselves to jnani games of mental gymnastics here? A culture’s creation, adoption or extrication of a word based on how useful they find it is indeed a juicy subject, no doubt. Lest we lose sight of the other in a jumble of sophisticated hermeneutics (which could prove rather entertaining), I’ll simply end this by saying that I have found from experience that when talking about orgasms or chocolate the word *divine* proves to be quite useful!

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