by Swami Krishnananda
Visitor: How can I let God open my heart?
SWAMIJI: You have to open your heart. You open it, and He will enter. Your mind is filled with thoughts which are other than God's.
"Empty thyself and I shall fill thee," is an old saying from the Bible. If you want to fill a basket with the fragrance of flowers, the rubbish and dust that is inside it must go first. Is the mind thinking of God, or is it thinking something else? That "something else" is the obstruction. You have closed the gates, and you want God to enter in.
There was a painter in England who painted a picture of a beautiful house. He called all the artists to see if there was any defect in the painting. Everybody admired it, saying that it was beautiful. Finally, one man said that he had forgotten to put a latch on the outside of the door. The painter said that the latch is inside, it is always open from the outside. That is, God's doors are always open, and you put the latch inside so that He may not enter.
The idea is that our thoughts are our bondages; our thoughts also are our friends. They can act in two ways, like a double-edged sword. When you develop integrated thought, harmonious thought, inclusive cosmically oriented thought, God will enter, because God is another name for integrated, harmonious, Absolute Consciousness. That cannot enter the little pinhole which is constricted on account of an abundance of other earthly desires.
Desires connected with this body, society, property, money, relations, psychobiological impulses, all hamper the opening of the heart. For this purpose, finally the only remedy is to sit quiet for as much time as possible, and deeply tell the mind that you are part and parcel of the universal inclusiveness. You have come from God and, therefore, you have to go back to the same place. You have come down by restricting your operations more and more, until you have restricted yourself to such an extent that you have become a little body. Now you have to follow the reverse order of ascent.
As you have come down little by little to greater and greater limitations, go back by expanding yourself into greater and greater expansions of delimitations by intense affirmation of God's universality. This is meditation. It is not a difficult thing, provided that you have determination.
Even if you have many desires, they may be fulfilled by God, so you need not have any suspicions about it. The fear is that you will lose all the wealth and glories of the world if you go there. All the glories here are only shadows and they will be found in the original there. When you have the original, why do you want a shadow? When you have the whole, why do you want a part? Give this kind of teaching to the mind and sit for prayer and meditation. You will see that some miracle will take place.
The devotional path is one way of diverting human affection to God. But before that, you must know what human affection is; then only you will know how to divert it to God as a divine affection. What is affection, and why does it arise in the mind of a person? Why do people love others?
If you think deeply, it becomes difficult to answer this question. Is it because someone gives something to you which you don't have? No, you can love something even if nothing comes from it. Actually, love is not love if you expect retribution. If you expect something back, it is a merchandise; it becomes a commerce, a business, not love.
Why does love arise like that in the mind? The reason for the arising of love must be known; only then you will know why it is humanly conditioned and how you can make it flower into that divine universal love.
This is purely a psychological question. The spiritual effort is finally a kind of internal psychology. When you eat food, it is not that you want chappati, rice, and all that. You want to create an internal chemical reaction. These instruments like rice, etc., are only instruments that stimulate certain conditions in the system which rejuvenate your personality chemically and make you feel strong and healthy; what you want is the satisfaction, not the thing as such. If the satisfaction doesn't come, the thing will not be loved. The cooperation from your side is important, apart from the thing that goes inside.
So is the case with spiritual life. It is a pure impersonal movement of your psyche, your mind and your consciousness towards a larger impersonality. You take as instruments in this process a symbol like Krishna, Radha, etc. They are all symbols, like articles of diet. They have a value only to the extent that they bring about that satisfaction and transformation in you.
The important point is what happens to you when you think of it. If you are feeling elated, in what manner has that thing evoked this joy? Why not another thing? Your mental makeup at that time is conditioned in such a way that only that particular object can satisfy this mental condition, just as in one particular condition of your body, only one particular kind of diet is best. Sometimes fasting is better than eating; sometimes fasting is bad and eating is good.
So, what it means is that external conditions are only instruments used in producing certain transformations in your personality, and that is what is important, more than the thing itself. No thing in the world has any meaning in itself. Its meaning is only in the capacity it has to bring about inner transformation in you. If that transformation takes place, you can take anything as your Guru. Sage Dattatreya had twenty-four gurus. Anything can be a Guru, provided it helps you. But if you don't know why you are feeling happy, you may get caught by it.
How can you divert the affection to God? The diverting of emotion to God is the most difficult art. It is a movement of the finite to the Infinite. In ordinary loves, the finite moves towards the finite only; therefore, it is brittle and breaks. But here in divine devotion, the finite moves towards the Infinite – so they are very different things. You feel happiness when the finite moves towards the finite also, because you think that two finites make a little larger finite; therefore, you feel a little happy. That is why people want to accumulate quantities. Many finites look like the Infinite, but it is not so. Many finites do not make the Infinite. They are also a bundle of finites only.
Many thieves put together do not make a saint. They are all thieves only. So, devotion to God is not a movement of the finite to finite, but of the finite to the Infinite. It is a complete transformation. It is something unthinkable, because ordinarily nobody will (as a finite being) think of the Infinite. How many people think of the Infinite in the mind? They always think of something which is finite and small, it may be property, relations, money, etc. All are finite things. With that, we want to be happy. We accumulate a huge bundle of finites and think that we are having an artificial Infinite, but the artificial Infinite is finite only. That is why the world is suffering in spite of accumulations. To completely bring about a transvaluation of values and transmute the finite into the Infinite is a herculean task. It has to be done, with great effort, under the guidance of a master.