The Way of Love (Bhakti) – Sufis Describe Five Levels of Devotion or Love
1. Not a genuine kind of love. The mind is always contemplating matters of mundane attainments, but with the body (outwardly) some virtuous deeds are done. Even though it is of the lowest kind, with sporadic acts of service, the mind would eventually turn to God.
2. The body is involved in spiritual acts, and there is an effort on the devotee’s part to attach the mind to God.
3. Both the mind and the body are engaged in meditation. However, due to material attachments, the devotee’s mind becomes distracted and is engaged in immoral actions. Upon realization of this deviation, the devotee immediately recognizes the error and seeks to correct it.
4. The devotee loves the Supreme Being with his mind, heart, and soul and longs for the Divine like a fish out of water yearns for water. He does not care about food, sleep, the company of others, and does not wish for anything other than God. Sometimes in yearning for the Divine, he swoons. (There are many stories of Saints who become unconscious, struck by Divine love.) True devotees become unconcerned with bodily needs and do not worry about loss or gain. They are unaffected by the news of death or birth of their loved ones. They are not jealous of others’ progress, nor do they worry about criticism or honor and dishonor. Because of their state of ecstasy and carelessness to worldly conventions, others think of such devotees as crazy. But in this state, they enjoy the bliss of God, who is the Ocean of Love. The devotees have a single focus and that is to see God. All other longings vanish from their hearts.
5. In this type of love, the devotee becomes like the Beloved, God. The soul is an inseparable part of the Divine, and through devotion it becomes Divine just as ice, made up of water, after melting, becomes water. This kind of devotion leads to the union of the soul and the Supreme Soul, God.
– Swami Sant Vyasanand Ji Maharaj — NEW Sant Mat Amazon E-book: “The Inward Journey of the Soul” (“Chal Hansa Nij Desh”)