Open Your Heart to Find God
February 26, 2023
Sunday Service with Nayaswami Ananta at Ananda Village, recorded February 26th 2023.
What is needed to gain true wisdom? In this Sunday Service Nayaswami Ananta emphasizes the importance of an open heart. He explains why pure feeling must support our thinking to arrive at understanding. He does so through sharing stories from the lives of Swami Kriyananda, Paramhansa Yogananda, and Jesus Christ.
I would like to read from Whispers from Eternity. This is the first reading under Prayers of Devotion, and Master wrote:
"With folded hands, bowed head, and heart laden with the myrrh of reverence, I come to Thee. Thou art my parents; I am Thy child. Thou art the Master; I am ready to obey the silent command of Thy voice. I conjured the fragrant devotion of all hearts and mixed it with my tears. Now I am eager to wash Thy feet in silence. A river of my ardent crystal tears of craving rushes forth to meet Thee. Wilt Thou see that my boisterous flood of devotion be not lost in the desert of disappointment? Wilt Thou see that my mad flood of devotion follow always the right course, which leads to Thee?"
I think the answer is "Yes."
The topic is: "By Thinking, Can We Arrive at Understanding? I always get a little nervous thinking that someone might come to Ananda and think, "They're against thinking." We're not. Swami Kriyananda was probably, or was, the most prolific philosopher among the disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda. I think he wrote 140 books. So he was certainly a prolific philosopher, and was in favor of thinking.
But we need to attune our thinking to the divine guidance and intuition. Otherwise, as said in the reading, we can go astray. I love this reading. Because you can just picture these young rabbis, and scribes, and Pharisees coming to Jesus Christ, who turns out to be the savior of their religion, promised throughout the entire Old Testament, sitting down with them, and they want to discuss kosher rules of etiquette for eating. And they're talking to an avatar. They're talking to a prem avatar, an incarnation of divine love, and they want to discuss hygiene. I'm all for hygiene.
But the point is that, as Yogananda said, "God watches the heart." All the books in the world, and all the writings and all the philosophy in the world, if it doesn't have the love of God ,it is not going to take us to Self-realization. It's not going to bring us to the state that we are seeking, which is realization of the Self. And that's why I read this reading from Whispers.
The devotion that is part and parcel of Yogananda's teachings was always stressed by Kriyananda. He came to Master with a slightly intellectual bent, because he was a brilliant philosopher and a student of philosophy.
I'd like to point out something else about Swami Kriyananda. He wrote the play The Peace Treaty, which is one of his most philosophical works about government and human interaction. And he wrote it when he was 15 years old, I think, maybe 16, but in that era. And if you've ever read The Peace Treaty or seen it performed, the philosophy of government and the rule is incredibly deep. I always hoped that we could have it performed for the United Nations or the US Congress, but it hasn't happened yet.
But then Swami came to Yogananda with that bent. Yogananda saw that with just a little bit of his guru-given guidance, he could awaken the intense devotion of brother Kriyananda, whom he made the head of the monks. And Kriyananda became one of the great chanters of that organization, because he had so much devotion.
By the time he was ready to begin Ananda, Swamiji would, and did write books on philosophy. And yet, he stressed always, as he began Ananda, and as we grew and clarified our work and our purpose, that devotion was the main thing. God watches the heart.
And so it became important for us to focus on that and keep the philosophy. Swamiji wrote, you know, many philosophical books: Out of the Labyrinth used to be called Crisis in Modern Thought. That's the way out: the way in. Most of the world is interested in going into the labyrinth, we want to get out.
But the point is that he wrote a book and it wasn't a very popular book. I think he liked the fact that I told him once, that this is one of my favorite books that he ever wrote. I think I got a lot of points for that one, because this philosophy went over people's head because it was so deep.
But Master used to say, "Make your heart a hermitage." And that's important and has always been a foundation of our work.
Did you know that Anandamoyi Ma didn't know how to read? And yet philosophers would come to her to explain the scriptures, because she went by vibration and consciousness. And that is what we have to do.
We have to, yes, we have to learn the teachings, and we have to understand them. But if our wisdom guides our intellect, the brain can be a great asset. If wisdom does not guide our intellect, we can go all sorts of places. I love this reading, in the part where Swami talks about the the hair splitting philosophy of the early Pharisees and scribes.
And in case you don't know, there are many Christian philosophers in 2023, who are really into definitions and philosophical hairsplitting, such that it brings them to ridiculous conclusions.
I sometimes listen to philosophers—Christian philosophers, because Christianity is predominant in this country. But I find it also in Hindu philosophers and Sufi philosophers and Muslim philosophers. But they keep the intellect going, and they keep deductions going, but they're under the influence of the dark force, into-the labyrinth forces.
And their conclusions are mind numbing. One of them being that "Christ is the only way, and if you accept Christ as your ultimate savior, that's the only way you can get to heaven." It leaves out all the Hindus in the world, all the Christians, a lot of Christians, a lot of Muslims, a lot of shamans, a lot of people are left out in the cold. And yet they don't open their heart to the reality that their brothers and sisters are sincerely trying to follow the path that they have to God.
"I will reason, I will will, I will act, but guide Thou my reason, will, and activity to the right path in everything." Master said that was his highest prayer. By the way, since he was a Hindu, he said that many prayers were the highest prayer. The point is it's the center of our practice, "Guide Thou my reason, will, and activity to the right path in everything." That's what we have to do.
We have to ask the Divine Mother to guide our thoughts. And, to paraphrase my grandmother, a lady from Ireland, "Use your head for something besides a hat rack." I love grandma's advice! It's important.
Swamiji would ask us to think and to philosophize. His books go into this philosophy in many, many ways and on many, many points, but what the main measure that you can use, that he asked us to use, was "What is the feeling of the philosophy? What what do you derive from this book?"
I used to read books in college. And I would feel so heavy, and so spent after reading them. I go, "How can this be a famous book? This is just so heavy."
And yet you read the Autobiography, you read Swami's books, and you feel this lightness. Because it has the consciousness of the Divine, it has the heart open, to receive, just like the Purification Ceremony, "Open your heart to Me, and I will enter and take charge of your life." Think your way through to the end, you could get into really deep water roadway down a snowy road with no chains. And you'll just be stuck there. And it'll take you a while until you open your heart.
I have to tell you a story from Italy, long time ago. Anthony of Padua, a great saint who lived a long time ago in Italy, he was out and he was preaching the gospel of Jesus. And that was his thing. And he went to these different towns. So he went to this one town. I don't know if I should name it, it's bad PR. But it was Rimini in in Italy, northern Italy, on the Adriatic.
And he went to tell everyone about the good news about Jesus Christ and the gospel and how Jesus loves you and all these things. But no one wanted to hear him. "No, not today, go somewhere else, Padre." And so he said, "Okay, well, my job is to talk about Jesus." So he went down to the harbor there, and he started to give his talk about Jesus to the fish. They were the only ones that wanted to listen.
So, the fish lined up by size with the little fish in the front, big fish in the back. So I guess I was one of the big fish. I'm always in the back, you know. And so they're all lined up, and they listened to Anthony of Padua tell the story about Jesus. So the townspeople kind of felt pretty bad.
And so he gave the talk and then started walking out of the town. And they said, "Oh, Anthony! Come back, come back. We're sorry, we want to hear about Jesus, too." He gave a talk, and they got into it. But that intellectual resistance that people have, we see it a lot. We see it maybe more, I don't know if it's more or less.
And it's with giving the teachings online. You don't see... you don't know how many people are interested. But from what we know about ananda.org and Ananda Online. A lot of people are interested and their hearts are open and they're touched by our music, or by our schools, or by some aspect of what we do. And through that, they open their heart, and they feel Master's love. We're all channels of that love and that devotion.
You know, Paramhansa Yogananda was talking about Sister Gyanamata at the end of her life. And he made a remarkable statement. He said, "I've searched Sister's life and I haven't found a single sin. Even a thought," meaning that he searched her thoughts and her whole life, and she didn't commit a single sin even of thought. It was a statement of how great that that soul was.
We're put at different points. Sister Gyanamata didn't write any books. Luckily, she wrote letters to the nuns, and we have the book God Alone. But other than that, she didn't write any books. She just served.
But she emanated wisdom: Gyanamata, mother of wisdom. And Rajarshi similarly, didn't write any books. He talked to people. We have some of his talks, we have letters to him from Master. But Rajarshi wrote very little. It wasn't his dharma! It may not be for us.
I think Swamiji wrote enough books for all of us. Whenever he saw an aspect of the teachings that could be clarified, expressed, deepened, he would write a book, or write a song. Notice that all of his songs are about the heart. It's in the heart that "songs of joy reside resound," not in the head that "songs of joy resound." It isn't our nature and it isn't our path because it wasn't Master's path.
Swami Sri Yukteswar was a gyanavatar, incarnation of wisdom. And he gave us wisdom. And he... his philosophy was deep. But what does he say in The Holy Science? "You can't take a single step on the spiritual path without love." This is a gyanavatar. This is an incarnation of wisdom. That's what he has to say.
So let's practice that. Let's practice keeping our devotion strong. Yes, use your mind. Read the books! I read every one of Swami Kriyananda's books, and I've read it again and again, because there's so much depth there. But it's depth with love, with devotion, with feeling. And that is what we need to realize the Self.
I've always noticed that when I was in university and studying philosophers, and even religious philosophers, the lack of joy was really evident. It was so dry. And with Kriyananda, there was joy from the start and there was devotion from the start. And when he picked up a harmonium, your heart opened and when we sing his songs, when we chant chants by Master wrote, you can feel that.
Keep that in your wisdom. Keep that in your knowledge. By thinking in that way, you will arrive at understanding. But we need to keep that focus and keep that awareness. Keep that consciousness of how much God loves you, and that God has given you an intellectual capacity to understand His plan to some extent.
I would note that in the Autobiography of Yogi Sri Yukteswar says, "Babaji's spiritual stature is beyond human comprehension." So if you think you're going to get there with your brain, good luck, my friends! Use your brain, use the intellect but keep your heart open.
God watches the heart. All of you, everyone here, and everyone online would not be drawn to these teachings if that touch of the heart had not already begun. Blow on that flame and make it big.
God bless you all.
[Songs sung by the Joy Singers: "I, My, Me, Mine" and "In the Temple of Isis."]
The Week's Reading
The reading for this week from Swami Kriyananda's book Rays of the One Light is
"By Thinking Can We Arrive at Understanding?"
Truth is one and eternal. Realize oneness with it in your deathless Self, within. The following commentary is based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.
There are many places in the Gospels where we see Jesus in open conflict with the Pharisees – that is to say, with man-made as opposed to true, mystical tradition. In the Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 15, we see a good example of how they and he “locked horns.” Then some of the scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem came and asked Jesus, “Why do your disciples break our ancient tradition and eat their food without washing their hands properly first?” Jesus, after scolding them for their hypocrisy in observing lesser rules so carefully while ignoring the much more important ones, said, “Listen, and understand this thoroughly! It is not what goes into a man’s mouth that makes him common or unclean. It is what comes out of a man’s mouth that makes him unclean.”
It wasn’t that Jesus counseled against such wholesome practices as washing one’s hands before eating. In an age, however, when lesser rules were given too much importance relative to the truly important observances – cleansing the heart of impure desires, for example – he emphasized the supreme importance of loving God and of communing with Him. The Pharisees – the orthodox religionists of his day, in other words – had brought true religion down to a level of intellectual hair-splitting. They mistakenly considered the way to understanding to lie through a mine-field of definitions, which they tried to refine to ultimate exactitude. Jesus taught, however, that the intellect alone can never lead one to truth. Without love, indeed, there is no ultimate verity. Without fixity of purpose, born of the heart’s devotion, the intellect wanders endlessly. It cannot settle for long on anything. As the Bhagavad Gita says in the second Chapter: The intellects of those who lack fixity of spiritual purpose are inconstant, their interests endlessly ramified.
Thus, through holy Scripture, God has spoken to mankind.