In the article “Paths of Happiness” it has been written that the utmost and ardent devotion will lead to the height of Bhakti. By Bhakti only everybody worships God and they become an ardent devotee of God. Without Bhakti we cannot surrender ourselves to God. And GOD will bestow His necessity to us only on our Devotion. When such be the case, mere devotion will not fetch anything from Him it seems. By devotion only everybody becomes a Devotee of God. What is the difference between Devotion and Bhakti? Even though you have elaborated everything on the article, I am not able to catch this point fully. Hence this query. Please clarify.

- R.Rengan

I have used the word Bhakti and Devotion interchangeably. In normal usage, ‘Devotion is used in the context of work or to an ideal or even to another person. ‘Bhakti’ is used more in the spiritual context or directly in relation to ‘God’. The real difference between the two is that Devotion tends to still produce cause and effect i.e. it creates a tendency. Devotion can be said to be a superior feeling which expects less in return for the effort or feelings which is poured out. However, it does not still move one above the thought stage and therefore disappointments may arise. Bhakti is so strong in its faith and expression and as it is to Him; if at all it creates a tendency it will be to only move one above the thought stage at the earliest. Due to one’s complete identification and love of Him, one becomes ecstatic or Blissful and therefore thought free.

Some times, observation goes beyond the mind circle (intangible) and continues the process with respect to the physical body (tangible). (Focus spills over to our own outlook, dressing, appearance etc., instead of emotions). How do we solve this problem? Also, often the feeling of "we" rather than "I" is experienced, as if there exists two units of survival. If so, who am I, the observer or the other being observed?- ArunKumar.V

Observation can be of anything – an event, circumstances, oneself, one’s body, Mind or Mental activity etc. However if the first part of the question relates to thoughts about one’s appearance or outlook then it is not observation but merely some more thoughts. Thoughts by themselves do not help to distance oneself from one’s tendencies. However, the second part of your question actually indicates that if there is a thought free part of oneself observing then it can be called an observation. If one is genuinely observing then there will be two separate personalities (if it can be called that).

The observer is the real ‘I’ i.e. the Self or Ego and the observed is the action of the Gunas or Nature causing thoughts or actions. Both are aspects of That One but to become identified with the observer, i.e. the Self is the first goal to be achieved. However there is one more complication, i.e. in the initial period the observer would still be only Higher parts of the Mind and not the silent witness consciousness (which is our Self) and therefore true observation will not only be concentration but also free from thoughts (at least for a reasonably extended period of time). It is true that the initial effort may start from observing with thoughts but attempt must be to move above thoughts by watching everything with the least thoughts, labels, judgments, comparisons etc., when this happens one can say one is on the path to thought free Awareness.

I have realized that "Observation" of the mind leads to great bliss and I am experiencing greater awareness in all aspects. Of course at times I "suffer" and when I remind myself of observer and start observing the thoughts all suffering vanishes. But before that happens sometimes in my suffering I pray and a few times it gets answered too. I feel the one pervading Consciousness and that’s what I/people call "God". My question is why do prayers in our suffering get answered. There is no "book keeping" going on and there is no one listening for my prayers. So is it just coincidence when prayers get answered. I believe that everything happens as required for our salvation. Prayer is yet another thought which like all other thoughts should eventually disappear from the psyche. So does the 'One Consciousness of God' alter Karma cause of someone's prayer and why ? I asked myself this question several times but got no answer from within.Ram

As we have seen earlier where do these questions arise? In the Mind. Unfortunately we cannot answer such questions or understand these issues through our Mental understanding. Hence there cannot be a direct answer to this.

However, an indirect answer could be that it all depends on how one approaches Him. As long as one sees Him as being separate from one, then there is not only a need for prayer but also a need to accept that He will grant one what is best and not what one thinks is best. However, if one strongly believes there is no need for prayer then also it is fine as He accepts us as we approach Him.

It is no doubt true that a prayer is a thought but it may be the best thought we can have till we become thought free! The more thoughts of Him exclusively the more chance we have of attaining a thought free state whether we pray for that or not! One should not forget that till one attains a permanent thought-free state and becomes identified with Him, He is still separate. Therefore, prayer need not be thought of as being negative. In fact, as long as one prays for the Highest Happiness for oneself and not for solving specific issues, we can be guaranteed He will answer that sooner rather than later and that should be the ideal prayer one can and must have in the separated state of ignorance.