This is my first post so far, and I am really looking forward to chat with you, and hear your views on this subject.
First, I want to say, that I am a beginner as a student of spirituality, though I have read much litterature about religion and spirituality. I guess what I mean is, that my understanding of the litterature I've read, is somewhat low.
Right now I am reading "A treatise on cosmic fire" by Alice A. Bailey, and earlier I read "The Divine Plan" by Geoffry A. Barborka. I find these books very enlightening, though hard to comprehend. I kind of lack a emotional "understanding" of the spiritual life, like bhakti yoga and devotion to a Godhead or higher force. Can this devotion be a rational part of theosophical study?
I believe that devotion or "bhakti", if sincere, could purify the lower nature and help build a spiritual growth. I feel a joy with the hindu god Ganesha, as I connect him with happiness and wealth. Could I devote myself to Ganesha, or would this be irrational according to religious norms?
If you can provide insight in this subject, or refer me to a written source, I would be very pleased!
I excuse my broken english, it is my secound language of what I am not very practiced :). I am originally from Denmark.
Which is the best - Knowledge (Gyan Yoga), Action (Karma Yoga) or Devotion (Bhakti Yoga)? This has been answered adequately by Sri Krishna in Bhagvad-Gita. Whatever suits the individual best. Bhakti (devotion) allows one to focus on one single concept (object) unwaveringly and in that it is not much different from the other two except that it is perhaps a longer route.
The lives of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhans and his disciple Swami Vivekananda is a good example. While the former symbolizes devotion, the latter knowledge. Yet Vivekananda is not rated higher than Ramakrishna.
I would say, try what looks reasonable to you and be prepared to change if you find something better. All theoretical discussions pale when compared to practical personal experimentation. Blind following is something which I am fearful because one can be easily misled.
I would like just to agree with two previous posters that on the one hand, the best path depends on one's individual temperament. On the other, it is a matter of practice and realization. Actually, the Bhagavad-gita is a good book delineating several different paths. In many ways it is an ancient theosophical masterpiece. It says that one can reach the higehest goal through several different paths, one of which is devotion to a personal deity.
"Can this devotion be a rational part of theosophical study?"
They do not inherently conflict. The choice of religion is yours alone.
Ramadoss's words are worth repeating: Blind following is something which I am fearful because one can be easily misled.
"Could I devote myself to Ganesha, or would this be irrational according to religious norms?"
That is a question on Hinduism. I can't answer that. Sounds like you need to study Hinduism more. (and not Bailey).
Somehow choosing Ganesha because "I connect him with happiness and wealth" seems a bit of a conflict with Bhakti Yoga. Wealth and total Devotion seem like potential conflicts.
The people I know who practice Bhakti Yoga have had an "overwhelming calling" and desire to worship the specific Diety.
In any case -- do not be a Worshiper looking for something to worship. The traps are everywhere.
Your being Danish is an advantage - I have a suggestion try reading the book "The Sickness Unto Death" by Soren Kirkegaard in the original . It is a book which can throw light on many things and help you in your path . I found it particularly helpful in that it is really a wonderfully non denominational book written by a really great intellect and philosopher . His being a man of the cloth had absolutely nothing to do with what he wrote - It was for everyone.
It is a very deep treatise on the Phenomenology of the Senses which he gained from actual practice , and his tautology at the second part of the book which he says ''Sin is before God " will help you in polishing the Word Idea GOD that you have and bring it to a pure concept whilst at the same time helping you to transcend religions (Which in my humble opinion is the first step to spirituality ). You can at times be able to Isolate the false sense of Me and Mine if you really read carefully the portions that deal with - Standing before God and not Answering , and Answering before God. I hope this book will teach you to listen to yourself and uncondition yourself from a host of errors - It did so in my case and is a book I hold very dear to my heart. Remember we are born in the middle of history but we forget the raw origins of man - this book takes you back at appropriate junctures to the origins intellectually so as to see its writings in the proper perspective.
I agree with Hari Menon. Kierkegaard is a very important writer, someone who went deep inside with great honesty.
I have read all Alice A. Bailey books, and "A Treatise on Cosmic Fire" is the most difficult one. I did not understand most of it, yet I found a few interesting "pearls" in it, so it was worth the effort.
The most important point to me is to be able to integrate spiritual, theosophical, esoterical, etc (call it as you like) stuff into daily life. This is quite impossible when one is a beginner ;-) and, since all this stuff is about transformation, redemption, realization, enlightement (again, call it as you like ;-) some kind of mind-whirlwind in the beginning cannot be helped.
Emotional understanding IS one of the most important keys, one that people who worship rationality often forget, and the consequence is that they do not become strong, their thoughts and ideas lack life... if you are aware that you worship Ganesha for happiness and wealth, you may not be on a high level of ideal Bhakti, and you are doing the same than milions of Indian people. True prosperity is one of the four Vedic goals in life ;-)
Have fun today, friends!!!