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If you’d like to read an excerpt from my book,

Finding the Lost Heart: A New Path to Growth, Love and Wisdom,

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Why Students Don't Like School by Daniel T. WillinghamThe way of devotion, or the bhakti marga, is getting some publicity in The Economic Times from the latest discoveries of neuroscience.  In Daniel T. Willingham’s book, Why Don’t Students Like School, published by Jossey Bass, he provides evidence to prove that we grow through practice beyond the point of mastery. We best learn through symbol, story and immersion, processes of the heart, rather than the head.

Whether we are seeking love, sex, money or purpose, the problem is within. When we find our hearts, we can find what we want in life. So in order to get what we want we have to devote ourselves to the daily practice of  self-cultivation. This, the Chinese sage, Mencius, tells us, is the way to find the heart.

This heralds back to the wisdom of Shankara, an 8th century advaita philosopher who deeply influenced the development of Hinduism. In his masterwork, “The Crest Jewel of Freedom,” he said:

Chief among the causes of Freedom is devotion, the intentness of the soul on its own nature. Or devotion may be called intentness on the reality of the Self.

We actualize our potentials through the sacred undertaking of devoting ourselves to the discovery of our heart.

In the end, the purpose of our quest is not to get something. The goal is not some end point, or even some final success. The goal is an immersion in the process itself. The finding is in the seeking. This is what gives us strength, courage and self-confidence.

bhakti-marga1No singular method will solve our problems and bring us what we want in life. Instead, we must learn a new attitude of heart, an approach to life and living.In order for us to become what we are meant to be requires the development of a new kind of spirituality. In order to realize our hearts, we need what in Sanskrit was called a Bhakti spirituality, a Bhakti Marga, or the Way of Devotion.This is a devotion not to some supernatural being, but rather to those things that are close at hand. We devote ourselves, first and foremost, to the rediscovery of our own hearts.In the Parsifal legend, the young hero brings the king to health and the kingdom back to life simply by asking the right question, “Where is the holy grail?” All we have to do to bring ourselves back to health is to ceaselessly ask the question, “Where is the heart?”It is only when we devote ourselves to putting the rediscovery of ourselves at the center of our lives and working on this every day that we have the possibility of truly flourishing.In order to realize our destinies we need to align ourselves with what Mencius called the Heavenly Mandate. These are the laws and principles of the universe and human nature. When we are in harmony with these laws we are happy and fulfilled, our relationships and families are harmonious and our society is peaceful and prosperous. Devoting ourselves to a lifetime of searching for the heart is the way to learn about this natural, universal law, because the heart is where these laws reside within us. This devotional act brings us closer to the essence of the cosmos.The goal is not some end point, or even some final success. The goal is an immersion in the process itself. The finding is in the seeking. It is this devotion which leads to the finding of the heart, because devotion is the authentic condition of the heart, where devotion means an ultimate commitment of love.The finding of the heart is in the striving. This striving for the core within us that lives in harmony with the universe, is what nourishes our ch’I, the lived embodiment of universal energy. It is what gives us strength, courage and self-confidence. Like in the tale where Lily had to search the world over to find the lost and enchanted prince, to find the lost heart we need to say, “As far as the wind blows, and so long as the cock crows, I will journey on, till I find it once again.”