Bhava in Yoga Meditation


Bhava = the power of emotion, controlled emotion used on the path to Self-realization. Bhava is stronger than intelligence, bhava is stronger than thoughts.

read the article “Yoga Meditation, Desire and Bhava”
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Have ONE desire
When you listen to the whispering of your heart, what does it tell you? If an enlightened sage would come to you and offers you to guide you in pursuing that which you long for the most, would you know what that is? What is your deepest longing, if you would allow yourself not to be restricted by doubt, limitations, or fear? What is your goal of life? Or very short and sweetly said; what do you want?
Allow yourself to find this ONE desire that makes the heart sing, that makes life a beautiful journey, which describes the final destination; seek to find words for this ONE desire. Then its power of emotion can be utilized and lead you on your journey. The yogis and sages knew that their true nature was not subject to change, death, and decay; that it lies beyond body, breath, and mind; that it is formless, pure, unconditional and absolute; that their true nature is peace, happiness, and bliss. Over time, they talked about this true nature, using different words as different pointers; all pointing to the same indescribable Non-dual Reality. Maybe not all of these words make your heart sing, thus to find your own words for this indescribable formless Non-dual Consciousness along with the words used in all the scriptures is extremely useful. Though it is indescribable the attempt to hold the formless with a word will guide you in your journey inward, it can become the anchor or target or constant remembrance so that you stay on track. you need a strong desire to get to your final destination, because you will have to cross the ocean of samskaras. This ocean is a collection of latent wishes and wants that have been gathered throughout lifetimes, when they awaken they agitate the mind-field as they are waves of active desires. These active desires want to be fulfilled, leading to emotions related to when these desires get their way and also to emotions related when they don’t get their way. Thus on your way inward you will encounter innumerable waves of desires that become active, if the one desire is not strengthened you will be easily distracted. You will forget what you are doing when you dive inward.
Desire – Kama
Every desire that becomes active wants something, this power of wanting can be very strong depending on how much coloring (kleshas -attachment) the desire has. You may witness in yourself that sometimes things are done so unconsciously that they surprise you when you suddenly get conscious; you may find yourself eating out of the fridge and you do not remember how you got there. Or that a desire is so strong that it seems that its power is taking over your whole mind, and it almost feels like it is forcing, pushing or pulling you to fulfill it. If you know this power, if you know the energy can come form an active desire, you can start to use this mindfully, you can consciously strengthen this power by increasing the wanting quality of a desire. Thus you want to know that ONE desire with which you want to do this. Using the power of this ONE desire—that is related to diving beyond the mind into the Non-dual Reality—is a part of bhava. Allowing this desire to grow will make it stronger, and thus the power that come from it when it is active becomes stronger, thus the bhava gets stronger.
This ONE desire is the fuel that is needed to be able to direct all your attention inward. This ONE desire supports the cultivation of being undisturbed, unaffected and uninvolved by all other desires. Buddhi has helps to discriminate between useful and not useful. Buddhi has over and over again decided to cultivate this ONE desire. But, there is another function of buddhi that needs to be used. Because, what if, on the side or simultaneous, there has been no contemplation done on what is most inward? What if there is no understanding of where this desire will take you? You have to spend time to come to know and understand this ONE desire. Another function of buddhi is to know, and this needs to be cultivated too, by practicing contemplation.
Contemplation leads to a deeper understanding. It will lead you to an understanding that this ONE desire, for example to be free, is already here. It is already your true nature. You start to experience a knowing; a knowing that comes from understanding the nature of existence. At first this knowing is a little shaky, because it gets washed over by all other believes of what you think you really are, like body, breath, thoughts and emotions. With repeated contemplation, this knowing becomes more and more unshakable. It becomes a firm understanding on with you can fully stand. This almost unshakable knowing is a part of bhava.
When you start to grasp the nature of existence… How can you be not overwhelmed by admiration, by wonder, by this unbelievable feeling of astonishment, reverence? HOW CAN YOU NOT BE IN AWE? This feeling or state of awe comes from repeated contemplation, longing, and knowing. It too will expand over time together with the longing and knowing. With this almost unshakable knowing and expansive awe surrender of the not-self is possible. This expansive awe is the last parts of bhava!Now we have three things that blend together as one unified force: LONGING, AWE and KNOWING. These together are unbelievable strong, it is the force called BHAVA.


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1.27 The sacred word designating this creative source is the sound OM, called pranava.
tasya vachakah pranavah
1.28 This sound is remembered with deep feeling for the meaning of what it represents.
tat japah tat artha bhavanam


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“A candle light is extinguished by the breeze very easily, but if that light is protected and allowed to catch the forest, it will grow into a forest fire. Then the breeze helps that fire instead of extinguishing it. Similarly, when an aspirant, with the help of discipline, protects the flame of desire burning within, it grows more and more.”
~ Living with the Himalayan Masters pg. 175
“If you really don’t think of going in a certain direction, you will never end up there. The real motivation for each action is your thought. But there is something even more powerful beneath the thought level, and that is the emotional power within you, a deeper part of your mental process. Emotion is very powerful and if you can use that emotional power, you can attain the highest state of ecstasy in a second’s time. But if you mingle and blend that emotional power with your negative habit patterns, then you are gone!”
~ Art of Joyful Living pg. 29
“Two other sources of knowledge that complement one another are knowledge through the mind and knowledge through emotion. There is always imbalance if we do not understand the importance of both these powers. The power of emotion can help the sadhaka by inspiring him and can raise his consciousness to higher dimensions. Bhava, emotion, should not be lost. It is a great help, a force in the path of self-control. The knowledge that flows through bhava is a great force, and there are no interruptions in that flow. But the knowledge that flows through the mind creates many stagnant pools if it is not allowed to go through the filtration of pure reason. Many times the answer that cannot be figured out by a well-balanced mind are given by bhava, emotion. The stream of knowledge that flows through the mind moves into many nooks and corners, and because of impurities of the mind, this creates small and big stagnant pools, and thus the stream becomes polluted. The stream of bhava is like a river flood. It rushes like a beloved running towards her lover who does not care about any obstacles, and is not afraid of being caught or trapped. In the stream of bhava, one does not have an enjoyable experience of the path, for he suddenly transported. He reaches the summit without experience of the path.”
~ Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita pg. 158+159
Sometimes a great teacher teaches his students through silence. The best and deepest of the teachings is not communicated through books, speech or actions, but through silence. That special teaching is understood only when you are silent. The language of that silence sometimes comes to you and that is called sandhya bhava, the emotion of joy and equilibrium. ~ Book unknown
During the period of seeking, the student may become too intellectual, ignoring sahaja-bhava (spontaneous intuition); or conversely, he may become too emotional, ignoring his reason. An emotional trip is as dangerous as an intellectual trip; each feeds the ego. Those who do not believe in discipline should not expect enlightenment. No master can or will give it to them just because they want it.
~ Perennial Psychology of Bhagavad Gita
The path of devotion is not the emotionalism that leads people toward chanting, dancing, shaking, and tears. It is completely giving util one has nothing further to give. The Lord says, “Empty thy vessel and I will fill thee.” To be completely emptied, one must learn to be like the ocean, for the ocean continually evaporates itself yet is always full. By giving, the same is returned. The law of giving fulfills one. Love is giving and fulfillment.
~ Perennial Psychology of Bhagavad Gita pg. 260


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Read the whole article “Karma” on
“Emotion is stronger than intelligence: Intelligence has no power before bhava, the power of emotion. But intelligence, if properly handled, can channel emotional power so that we can use it positively.”


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Amrita Gita from Swami Shivananda Saraswati:
On Karma Yoga:
Verse 9: Work without egoism. Cultivate the Nimitta-Bhava. Feel you are an instrument in the hands of the Lord.
Verse 12: Develop nicely adaptability. Serve always with Atma-Bhava and Narayana-Bhava.
On Japa Yoga:
Verse 2: Japa is the repetition of any Mantra or Name of the Lord with Bhava and feeling.
Verse 20: Do not do the Japa in a hurried manner, just as a contractor tries to finish his work in a hurried way. Do it slowly with Bhava, one-pointedness of mind and single-minded devotion.
On Raja Yoga:
Verse 33: Meditation on OM with Bhava and its meaning removes obstacles in Sadhana and helps to attain Samadhi.
On Jnana Yoga:
Verse 26: OM is the symbol of Brahman. OM is your real name. Meditate on Om with Bhava and its meaning. You will attain Self-realisation.
On Mantra Yoga:
Verse 8: Repetition of Gayatri or Pranava or Om Namah Sivaya, Om Namo Narayanaya, Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya, one and a quarter lakh of times with Bhava, faith and devotion will confer on you Mantra Siddhi.


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