I Want to Taste Sugar
Only love for the Supreme Lord is true bhakti. Love for any other being, however great, is not bhakti. The Supreme Lord here means Iśvara, the concept of which transcends what you in the West mean by the Personal God. ‘He from whom this universe proceeds, in whom it rests, and to whom it returns—He is Iśvara, the Eternal, the Pure, the All-merciful, the Almighty, the Ever Free, the All-knowing, the Teacher of all teachers, the Lord, who of His own nature is inexpressible Love.’
Man does not manufacture God out of his own brain; but he can only see God in the light of his own capacity, and he attributes to Him the best of all he knows. Each attribute is the whole of God, and this signifying of the whole by one quality is the metaphysical explanation of the Personal God. Iśvara is without form yet has all forms, is without qualities yet has all qualities. As human beings we have to see the trinity of existence: God, man, nature. We cannot do otherwise.
But to the bhakta [lover of God] all these philosophical distinctions are mere idle talk. He cares nothing for argument, he does not reason; he senses, he perceives. He wants to lose himself in pure love of God. And there have been bhaktas who maintain that this is more to be desired than liberation, and who say: ‘I do not want to be sugar; I want to taste sugar. I want to love and enjoy the Beloved.’
In bhakti yoga the first essential is to want God honestly and intensely. We want everything but God, because our ordinary desires are fulfilled by the external world. So long as our needs are confined within the limits of the physical universe, we do not feel any need for God. It is only when we have had hard blows in our lives and are disappointed with everything here that we feel the need for something higher; and then we seek God.
Bhakti is not destructive; it teaches that all our faculties may become means to reach salvation. We must turn them all towards God and give to Him that love which is usually wasted on the fleeting objects of sense.
Bhakti differs from your Western idea of religion in that bhakti admits no element of fear, no Being to be appeased or propitiated. There are even bhaktas who worship God as their own child, so that there may remain no feeling even of awe or reverence. There can be no fear in true love, and so long as there is the least fear, bhakti cannot even begin. In bhakti there is also no place for begging or bargaining with God. The idea of asking for anything is a sacrilege to a bhakta. He will not pray for health or wealth or even to go to heaven.
One who wants to love God, to be a bhakta, must make a bundle of all these desires and leave them outside the door, and then enter. He who wants to enter the realm of light must make a bundle of all shop-keeping religion and cast it away before he can pass the gates. It is not that you do not get what you pray for; you get everything; but it is low, vulgar—a beggar’s religion. . . . These prayers for health and wealth and material prosperity are not bhakti. They are the lowest form of karma. Bhakti is a higher thing. We are striving to come into the presence of the King of kings. We cannot get there in a beggar’s dress. . . .
Giving up the ideas of pleasure and pain, gain and loss, worship God day and night; not a moment is to be spent in vain.
Giving up all other thoughts, with the whole mind day and night worship God. Thus being worshipped day and night, He reveals Himself and makes His worshippers feel His presence.
– Swami Vivekananda, Inspired Talks, Wednesday July 31, 1895