Translated from Russian by Mikhail Nikolenko
To approach God we, first of all, have to possess the developed ability to love “from the heart”.
What can unite one consciousness with another? — Only love!
It is love that unites man with man and man with God! Therefore, it is most essential to develop the ability to love!
In order to come to the Creator one first has to learn to love the elements of His Creation: people, all living beings, and all other components of the manifested world.
First learn to love Me in My “manifested” (in the material Creation) form — God teaches us in the Bhagavad Gita.
Start mastering Love through loving people — all of them, as they are — and only after that will you be able to love God — emphasizes Jesus Christ.
It is impossible to start loving God at once. First, we have to develop in ourselves the capability of cordial love.
Moreover, we have to learn to love passionately! We have to be able to fall in love — so that at some time in the future we become capable of falling in love with God!
Being in love with God is the essence of Sufism, the highest bhakti yoga, and the foundation of all sound religions.
Yes, we have to be capable of being passionate! We develop this ability here, on the Earth — in a dramatic and long way. We love each other, love our cars, our academic papers, worldly titles and degrees, etc. Objectively, this is not bad (as a temporary phenomenon, as a stage of development), though quite painful, because the fruit of earthly passions is suffering.
Earthly passions are rajas. But it is impossible to enter the sattva guna without going first through rajas! Only that sattvic state is firm and steadfast which is based on personal power developed in the rajas guna.
Let me draw your attention to the fact that Krishna considered as righteous the following four categories of people: those striving to break away from suffering, those seeking knowledge, those seeking personal achievements, and the wise. That is, people of the first three categories are not wise yet, but unlike people of demonic nature, they are also on the path to Perfection.
So we have to become passionate in our love so that when we mature, we can redirect this passion towards God. “To mature” means to reach that level when work at the stage of buddhi yoga becomes possible for us. And then the techniques of buddhi yoga will allow us to really turn towards God. And our passionate love for Him will enable us to become firm in this state and to advance further.
Various religious books deal with dispassionateness. The Bhagavad Gita also pays particular attention to this idea. But in Sanskrit this word bears a somewhat different meaning as compared to the Russian language, for example. In the Bhagavad Gita, dispassionateness implies, first, elimination of negative emotions, such as various kinds of anger, grief, etc.; second, abandonment of lust, i.e. sexual passion* that enslaves man; third, refraining from fervent expressions of positive emotions (for example, exultation); one should maintain an even, positive, and loving emotional state. This is one of the intermediate goals on the path of spiritual transformation of oneself, which is quite difficult for a beginner to achieve.
The question may arise: what is this needed for?
It is needed for directing one’s entire love-passion, all the power of one’s emotions, without wasting them for other things — to the Main Object of one’s love — to the Creator.
There are many esoteric methods for preparing oneself for ascent to the highest stages of religious practice. They are asanas, pranayamas, work with images refining the consciousness (visualization), special kinds of dancing, meditative running, yantras, etc. Ignorant people combine all these under the term yoga. But this is incorrect. Even the one who diligently practices the asanas of hatha yoga is not necessarily a yogi, because occultists and even black magicians can practice them too.
So who can be called a true yogi? What are the criteria?
The criteria are two. The first one is religiousness. Yoga is the Path to God, to Mergence with Him. The second criterion is love, an aspiration to cultivate, to develop it in oneself.
Those practicing asanas, pranayamas, and so on for the sake of spiritual self-perfection, with the aim of approaching God, — those people are yogis, though their task for now is rather minor — to improve their physical health. But those who do the same exercises, but do not meet the criteria mentioned above, — they can be called occultists, magicians, sportsmen but not yogis. Yoga cannot be atheistic or without love.
Mystical non-spiritual pseudo-yoga can result in the gravest spiritual degradation. Such pseudo-yogis can be easily recognized. Their characteristic feature is coarse, harsh bioenergy radiated by them and, as a rule, cultivation of ethical vices. These are demonic people in the literal meaning of these words, because they are preparing themselves for hell, for the role of demons.
Let us remember: only if everything that we do in our everyday life and in special esoteric systems of training is inspired by love and aspiration to God — only then this is the true spiritual Path, only then this is yoga.
Development of the spiritual heart located initially in the anahata chakra (in the middle dantian) is of primary importance on the path of mastering love. First, this “organ” of emotional love must be cleansed and developed within the body, then — as crystallization of the consciousness proceeds — one should learn to expand oneself as a spiritual heart in the surrounding space both around the body and in other — higher — spatial dimensions. God calls the latter Correct Meditation of Eternal Peace and Dissolution. It is only by means of this meditation that one can perceive, having entered the higher spatial dimensions, not empty space (emptiness) but the Divine Consciousness abiding in them, and later — to master Mergence with It.
In this way one can cognize God in one’s own spiritual heart — in the heart expanded in the Abode of the Holy Spirit and then in the Abode of the Creator as well.
* * *
We have already mentioned that self-development of a person is conducted along three major lines: ethical, intellectual, and psychoenergetical ones. At that, the ethical one is the most important.
As Juan Matus put it , God provides according to our impeccability. In other words, He allows us to approach Him, to experience increasing joy, happiness from contacts with Him, and the bliss of a spiritual life — as we proceed in terms of our ethical self-perfection.
Per Juan Matus, impeccability means ethical perfection, i.e. correctness (objective correctness from God’s point of view) of our actions, words, thoughts, and emotions.
It is also essential to understand that advancement along any of the three mentioned lines of development contributes to mastering the other two.
But it is the understanding and observance of ethical principles that serves as the foundation of all the practice. Ethics is the core of the spiritual self-development. It is around this core that forms and grows everything else that makes up the essence of the spiritual seeker: knowledge, skills, psychoenergetical abilities, and other qualities. The height and durability of this core is what the success of one’s spiritual efforts depends on. It is with this ethical core that we grow towards God. And God allows us to approach Him according to the degree of our ethical perfection.
The basis of ethics is love: love primarily in the aspects of compassion, ability to forgive, tolerance, tenderness, self-sacrifice, etc. Love has many aspects: we must remember that and make sure we cultivate all aspects of love.
We can develop “cordial” love in two ways:
The first of them can be called exoteric, i.e. natural. For example, through motherhood, raising children, sexual relationships, love for nature, for animals, etc.
In order to succeed, we have to learn to do everything not out of our self-interest but for the sake of others, i.e. not in an egoistic manner but in an altruistic one.
If one’s love is directed in this manner, one has a chance, instead of getting deeper into the mire of sufferings caused by a growing burden of unsatisfied desires, to advance towards increasing happiness, which is a natural consequence of spiritual growth. In this case the exoteric options of development create opportunities for natural growth of the “organ” of emotional love — the spiritual heart.
When there is an organ — there is its function. The system “organ — its function” can develop through regular functioning of the organ, or it can be developed by means of direct training of the organ.
The most illustrative example is our muscles. One can make one’s body strong by performing physical work. In this case one develops organs (one’s muscles) through letting them function — as a result, the entire system becomes more efficient.
But one can do another thing — go to the gym and work out in order to “pump up” the muscles by lifting weights — this may seem to be a rather dumb activity, which brings no evident economic benefit. But one’s muscles become stronger as a result. And after that they can be used in order to perform useful work for other people’s benefit. This is an example that explains the meaning and the essence of esoteric, i.e. in this context — “artificial”, “unnatural” approach to development of the “organ — its function” system.
This is the approach used by esoteric schools in their activity aimed at spiritual development of a person that consists in the usage of “artificial” methods of development of psychical “organs”.
In esoteric spiritual practice, among such organs the primary importance must be given to the main organ of emotional love — to the anahata chakra.
Exercises for development of the spiritual heart and its functions are the fundamental ones on one’s Path to God, on the path of service, on the path to happiness.
* * *
Passing from rajas on to sattva, man enters the world of tenderness, bliss, and peace. But peace is not laziness and idleness. Peace has to do with intensive spiritual doing in the state of inner quietness — hesychia.
The word hesychasm originated from the Greek word hesychia — inner quietness. No spiritual work on the advanced stages is possible unless one has mastered hesychia! Only when we have stopped boiling inside from various anxieties and emotions, when we have eliminated internal dialogues and monologues, when we have learned to refrain from “shooting out” with the “tentacles” of our senses — indriyas — at objects of the material plane, when we have learned to live without a TV or radio set being permanently turned on, without ceaseless chatting with other people “about anything” — just for the sake of chatting, — it is only then that the real religious practice can become possible for us to perform. In order to actually direct one’s look — the look of the consciousness — towards God, in order to strive for the Mergence with Him, we first have to acquire inner peace.
There are various techniques for attainment of the inner peace. One can start with doing hatha yoga exercises, Chinese dynamic gymnastics Tai Chi Chuan, or practicing similar systems. But the radical solution of this problem can come only through shifting the concentration of the consciousness from the head to anahata, followed by expanding the spiritual heart beyond the body in the subtle and subtlest spatial dimensions.
We know from history that Greco-Slavic mystics (Hesychasts) were doing something like this. I am talking about the technique known as the Jesus Prayer.
Let us look: who was Jesus to the early Christians? He was their Savior! In what sense — Savior, how should we understand this word? It is not only because the name Jesus is translated as Savior. Jews had many Jesuses, but only One of them is known as the Savior. Jesus Christ was the Savior, because He gave His saving Teachings to people! He gave them Teachings that people could follow and thus be saved from suffering both now and after the death of the body, could get closer to Perfection, to the happiness of cognizing God-the-Father, to Mergence with Him! Jesus brought Teachings which were principally new for that region of the Earth — the Teachings about the saving power of love, the Teachings that declared that it is love that saves us from suffering and degradation in spiritual darkness!
But various myths sprang up immediately that Jesus “descended” not only to earthly hell (i.e. to crowds of sinners here, on the Earth) but also to the hell of the netherworld, and that He took all its inhabitants out of it, that He delivered all Christians from all their sins in advance — with His Death on the Cross, etc.
Everyone interprets the same event in their own way, according to the level of their intellectual and ethical development. If one is intellectually mature, then one is capable of understanding the Teachings adequately and applying them in one’s own life in order to become better. But some other people make an idol out of any spiritual leader right away and start praying to him, asking and demanding material welfare for themselves…, instead of practicing his teachings!
But, be that as it may, historical facts say the following. When persecutions of Christians began in the Roman Empire and authorities began to massively crucify Christians along the roads — Christians started to give themselves up to be crucified so as to become similar to their Teacher at least in this!..
The name of Jesus Christ is sacred — as it has been and will be! For all developed people it is a synonym of Love. Jesus not only preached love and did deeds of love, be it caressing a child or working wonders. He also deliberately went towards His Death on the Cross for three years, knowing that this kind of destiny awaited Him if He continued to fulfill His Mission on the Earth! He sacrificed Himself for those whom He loved — for people, for us!
The image and the name of Jesus invoked sincere gratitude, compassion, and admiration in His true followers! His image and name were associated with the concept of Love itself!
So, a technique emerged that consisted in pronouncing the name of Jesus in the anahata chakra, using it as a mantra.
In Orthodoxy there is an acathistus called To Jesus, the Sweetest. The Sweetest — in the old Slavic meaning — is “the most beloved one”. Let us address Jesus:
“Jesus — the Sweetest! Jesus — the most Beloved! Come to me! I love You! Help me, oh Lord, to know You, to know your Love! Help me, oh Lord, to become better! Help me to learn Your Love!”
Hesychasts would repeat this appeal to Jesus, first in their mind — for a very long time, dedicating their entire time to this. If this method was practiced with the due emotional mood, with time (sometimes, after years) this prayer, as Hesychasts said, “descended into the heart”: when the emotion of love for Jesus was reaching its peak, the concentration of the consciousness of the seeker shifted to anahata.
From this moment on, the whole world was different for such a person! It was as if the person started to see everything through “rose-colored glasses”: it was not a hostile and frightening world any longer, which one had to fight and fear, but a world full of harmony and love!
Such a person gradually became a true torch of Love, producing the corresponding emotional-bioenergetical field around himself or herself. The attitude of other beings towards him or her dramatically changed: they responded to love with love!
These are facts, which we have observed numerous times: relationships in families, at the workplace, in a communal flat — change; children are attracted to such people, adults seek their company just because it feels good to be around them… Such a person becomes a source of an auspicious bioenergetical field — and the attitude towards him or her changes whether people understand anything in bioenergetical matters or in religion or not. Almost all people (except a certain category of them) respond to love with love!
The university students who attended the groups that I was conducting asked me how they could use this knowledge at exams. I recommended that they look at the examiner from the anahata during the examination. Later, after the exam, they recalled, laughing, how the examiner had answered all the questions instead of them and gave them the highest grade. Why did this happen? One has to understand the examiner as well! It is not easy for this person to conduct the examination when every new student who comes adds the next portion of his or her anxiety, exhaustion, and other negative emotions to the state of the examiner! The examiner grows exhausted in this stressful atmosphere — but then, suddenly, a person comes whose presence feels good to the examiner! How can he or she offend such a person by giving him or her anything less than the highest grade?..
… In the early 80’s, when we were just starting our activity, when it was forbidden to talk about God — we taught people how to work with anahata, and the effect was remarkable: people transformed, they started to search for religious books, whole groups of students accepted Christian baptisms…
Even anahatas of stubborn atheists would “open up”, but in their case, the effect could not be lasting, of course. For example, I knew a psychologist who considered himself a “fighter” against other people’s vices. He would “crush” their vices in a fierce and violent manner; when he was leaving the place, people hoped they would never see him again! But he believed that it was the task of a true psychologist…
I tried to teach him to work with anahata. He achieved the effect — and was staggered by the fact that he suddenly experienced love for people, whom he had hated and despised before. He was surprised so much that he even woke me up in the middle of the night, came over to my place, told me how it had happened! It astounded him!
But what happened next? He played with this wonderful method for some time as a psychological game — and then reverted to his previous state: his outlook and aspirations remained the same, he even became a member of the Communist Party — right before it collapsed…
The following intellectual resolution must form first: “I want to become better; I know that in order to do it I have to learn to love!”. Only in this case will the methods of esoteric psychology be helpful! Only then these exercises will become a step on the big stairway of spiritual ascent.