Sayings of a Paramahamsa

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

What is the relation of creation to the heart?

The heart is the universe, the creative principle, and the intellect is the destructive principle. The heart is the way to God and the intellect is the way to the devil. You can see it in the modern world. Even in your personal life you will find you are closer to your family, your friends and relatives only through the heart. If you are close to someone through the intellect, it is only for selfish motives. If you have selfish motives you say nice things, but you have your own purpose, which is from the brain, the head.

The heart is free from selfishness. It is the source of the most important quality, which is sacrifice, selflessness. A mother is selfless, God is selfless, guru is selfless, because they operate at the level of the heart. Leaders of a country are not selfless because they operate through the intellect. If anyone in the world wants to approach God, to have connection or relationship with God, then intellect is the barrier. You will have to transcend intellect, reasoning and logic. Intellect can be helpful to some extent, but it becomes a barrier at a certain point and you will have to transcend it.

How can anyone believe that you can understand God through the intellect? Maybe you can discuss God through the intellect but you cannot feel Him. The intellect cannot realize or feel God, it is beyond the capacity of an intellectual. There are many great thinkers in the world, many intellectuals who can write book after book, but they have never had the faintest experience of the divine. To have an experience of God, or of the whole universe, the absolute totality, you need heart. You express your feelings through the heart. What is feeling? Love, hatred, passion, sacrifice and anger are feelings. You feel them, you do not see them. Similarly, you cannot see God. You cannot say, “Show me God, then I will believe in Him.” God has to be felt.

God has to be felt just as a mother's love or a friend's love is felt. The feeling of friendliness or even hatred is called bhava. It is an attitude of the heart. Man has various attitudes in him which are fully matured. You do not have to learn how to develop your heart. Every human being, whether a saint or an ordinary person, a child, a young woman, an old man or even a two year old infant, has a fully developed heart, because they can feel love, pain, animosity and hatred. You do not have to develop feelings, they are natural to every living being, not only human beings. Trees and animals have feelings. It is the natural tendency of every living being to react. This reaction to each other is an outcome of feeling.

In order to understand the relationship between the heart and the universe you have to understand that God is the centre of the universe. The heart is the eye through which you can see Him. You will never be able to see Him without heart. You can study the scriptures, the Puranas, the Koran and the Bible, but it will be to no avail. You can only see God through the eyes of your heart. The same God is the centre, the inner soul, of the universe and the totality of the universe. God and the universe are identical; there is absolutely no difference.

How can we have peace of heart?

The heart is always peaceful. It is the mind that needs peace. The heart has no problems. Everyone's heart is full of love and grace. Everyone's heart is pure, it is not contaminated, impure or corrupt. What you need is peace of mind, not peace of heart. The mind is always running here and there like a monkey. Therefore, you should ask how to get peace of mind. If you want to know how to get peace of heart, then I do not know because I have never seen anything wrong with the heart. Even a criminal or a debauched person has a good heart. Even a murderer has love in his heart for his wife and children.

How can we develop bhakti, love for God?

Everyone desires love. Everyone wants to love and be loved. Love is something which you know. I don't have to teach you about love, but about how to streamline this love from matter to spirit. How can the love which you have for the material world be channelled towards God? How can you acquire divine love when you have feelings for the material world? When you love the world you are running after a shadow. When you love God you are running against the shadow, you are running after light. If you follow the light, the shadow will follow you.

Love is natural to every human being. You have also been practising it. You love your children, you love your parents, you love your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend. You know how absorbing love is; it consumes the entire attention so that the mind becomes one-pointed. When you are full of passion, hatred, or affection for your children, then the total mind is consumed, and nothing else can get into your head at that time. Therefore, it is evident that you should direct this love to God. But you cannot just do that. In order to love somebody you have to discover a relationship that is logical.

She is my girlfriend, he is my boyfriend, he is my son, she is my mother; you have discovered these relationships. You have to discover and forge a relationship. Until you know the relationship, how can you love somebody? You cannot love God unless you have realized who He is to you and who you are to Him. Where do you stand? First of all, ascertain and discover what relationship you have with God. Is God your father, your mother, your husband, your boyfriend, your son, your friend or your master? Who is He? You have to be very, very clear about Him. I have already told you one truth – that love is natural to everyone. The second truth is that everyone is connected to God. You do not have to connect yourself to God, you have to discover Him.

Many saints have considered God as their beloved, as if He were their husband or wife. Many have loved God as if He were their master. There are people who think that they and God are identical. In the Upanishads, it is written, Aham Brahmasmi, “I am Brahman”; Shivoham, “I am Shiva”; Soham, “I am That”; Satchidananda Swaroopoham, “I am the form of truth, consciousness and bliss”. That is a relationship. The Sufis say Analhak, “I am truth”; that is also a relationship. Maybe you can feel it. In the Bible, Christ said, “My Father and I are one.” However, in the same Bible, Christ said, “My Father in heaven,” and “I am the son of God,” which means he realized that God was his father and he was the son; he was not identical to God, but different.

In this way there is not only one relationship with God, but many relationships which you will have to discover for yourself. There is also the master-servant relationship with God. There are many other attitudes and relationships, such as the unworthy son or daughter. Bhakti is always there. Everyone has feeling. If you did not have feeling, you would not love or hate. The feeling which goes towards God is the same feeling which goes towards your enemy whom you hate. It is the same feeling which you have when you are afraid or in pain, or which is expressed when you are in love. The basic stuff is the same, only the target is different – enemy, beloved or God.

These are the bhavas, the feelings, of a human being; they come from the depths of the heart. You can feel them. You should relate to God with all your sincerity and truth, from the heart, because you are talking to somebody who is no different from you, who is your own being. You are talking to yourself, so be sincere, because you can cheat the whole world, but you cannot cheat yourself. God is within you, and He knows very well what you are thinking, rationalizing and feeling, whatever you are. Or maybe that is all happening because He is doing it. Who knows, maybe He knows whatever you and I are feeling and thinking because He is everything in life.

You have been thinking of all that is useless in this world, because of your karma, your nature, your negative propensities. You take care of your husband or wife and children. You work hard day and night to earn money for their support, until you become old and they have all left you. But you have never taken care of Him, although He has taken care of you throughout your life.

These are the methods through which the bhavana of bhakti can be developed. You have to know that you have forgotten God. You may talk about Him, read about Him and want Him as well, but you have not worked for Him as much as you have worked for money, profession, success, children. How hard you work, day and night. Sometimes you even have a heart attack, but nobody ever died of a heart attack because he loved God!

Is there waxing and waning in feelings? How do I stop it?

Waxing and waning also happens naturally in the path of bhakti. Waxing and waning has to happen because it is an indicator of the expansion or progression of bhavana, feeling. Man also experiences waxing and waning of material and mundane feelings because the feelings are not stable. When the mind is unstable it experiences ups and downs. Similarly, when feelings are unstable they have their ups and downs. To prevent these ups and downs, one must constantly listen to satsang. Satsang is a tool by which you can recharge your battery with bhavana the moment it is even slightly discharged. Thereby your bhavana will be steady and constant.

Eventually you will be fixed in that state which is of a very high order, but right now the ups and downs are inevitable. The waxing and waning of spiritual consciousness is as natural as the waxing and waning of normal consciousness in human beings. During his evolution over the last million years, man has not had a steady consciousness. His consciousness has waxed and waned. It is only now becoming steady, and it is so sweet at the moment. The solution to the problem of life is God, but you have to forge a relationship with Him. You have to discover the relationship because everyone is connected with Him, nobody is disconnected. Everything that exists in the world, be it a flower, a leaf, a tree or whatever, is part of God. There is nothing in the universe which is not related to God. If that relationship is known, the feelings automatically arise and the ego-identification, the feeling that 'I am doing', becomes less and less prominent.

Rikhia, December 1994