Who is a true Christian? The person who loves God. When you die, God will ask you one question, “Do you love me?” It’s your love for God that counts, nothing else.

And what is love? It’s not a feeling that makes you cry. It may also be this, but it needs to come from a much deeper place. There are saints who are not demonstrative. I knew one such saint in India, a great saint, who was always very grave. I never saw him smile but there was great joy in his eyes.It’s the heart that counts, not outward display.

Mirabai, an Indian saint, was a great devotee of Krishna and famous for her songs. Hers was a very full life in the sense of loving Krishna and inspiring others to love Krishna. But her husband never spoke of God or Krishna and she thought, “My husband is not a devotee.” This caused her deep pain and she always prayed that he be converted.

Yogananda said that her husband was much greater spiritually than Mirabai. She just didn’t know it. One night, when her husband was sleeping beside her, Mirabai heard him in his sleep calling to God with so much love, “Oh God, my lover, why don’t I see You?” And she was very joyful.

In the morning Mirabai said to her husband, “I have discovered your secret.” And he said, “Don’t say it.” She said, “Yes, now I know how much you are a lover of God.” And he said, “I am sorry that you have discovered this, because I vowed that if one person ever discovered my love for God, I would consider this body desecrated, and I would leave it.” And he immediately sat in the lotus pose and left his body.

This story moves me deeply because it shows how much we must hold within us. It is a desecration of our love to demonstrate it outwardly to others. Our love needs to be internalized.

In a book on women saints of the world, there is a story of a saint who rarely spoke and who passed her whole time meditating. She confessed to someone that she had been Mirabai in an earlier life. She said, “Now I want to seek God inwardly, in silence.” She understood that there was no longer any need for outward singing, and that loving God in this inward way was much deeper.

In your love for God, learn to love Him in silence.

Excerpted from an August 31, 2003 talk in Assisi, Italy. Translated from the Italian by Michael Keshava Taylor.

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