Enter the Quiet Heart: Creating a Loving Relationship With God
By Sri Daya Mata
Publisher: Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1998.
Enter the Quiet Heart is a collection of short extracts from the talks and letters of Sri Daya Mata, a disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952). When only 17 years of age Rachel Faye Wright first met Yogananda in Salt Lake City, Utah, and soon after entered the monastic order of the Self-Realization movement as one of the first women to do so. Always close to Yogananda, she became known as Daya Mata or “Mother of Compassion.” In 1955, three years after his death, she became the president of the Self-Realization Fellowship in the USA and of the Yogoda Satsanga Society of India, both founded by her guru. She served in this position until she passed away in 2010.
Through this little book we gain a glimpse into the love and longing that drew Sri Daya Mata to the spiritual path, a yearning which she says every human being shares. In the preface to the book she writes,
Every human being yearns for love. From childhood, that was the tremendous desire of my heart; to me, there is no meaning to life without love. But I had the notion that I could never be content with imperfect love. The love that would satisfy me was a love unconditional, a love that would never disappoint me. My reason told me that in seeking perfect love, I must go to the Source; I must go to the One who alone is capable of giving such love. Thus began my search for God.
To her, the fundamental work of the spiritual path is to create a loving relationship with God. She urges us to speak to God in the language of the heart.
Practise the techniques of meditation until you become calm and centred within. Then take one thought and go on repeating it again and again and again, to the exclusion of every other thought: “I love You, Lord. I want You; only You, only You, only You, my God.” Oh! How sweet it is to talk to God like that in the language of your heart. You discover what real love is. You discover what real joy is.
It is only the continual remembrance of God that can give us an anchor through all the turbulence of life in an ever-changing world:
Let your mind rest constantly, or as often as possible, in the thought of God. In that thought we draw the strength, the wisdom, the great love for which our souls hunger. Be mentally anchored in that which alone is changeless in this changing world: God.
Daya Mata encourages the reader not to give way to discouragement when the heart feels dry, but to keep at the practice until it becomes a way of life.
Even at those times when the heart feels dry, keep trying to feel love for Him. It must become a way of life; not for just a few minutes or hours a day, and not for just a few years, but through all the moments of the rest of your days. Then you will find at the end of the trail that the Divine Beloved is there waiting for you. Each day along the way can be a day of joy, cheerfulness, courage, strength, love, when you unceasingly commune with God in the language of your heart.
One of the pleasures in reading this book is the rich and varied range of spiritual literature that Daya Mata quotes or refers to. For example, referring to Brother Lawrence, the seventeenth-century Catholic monk who wrote The Practice of the Presence of God, she describes the “state you want to come to,” a way of being that is, she says, “the fruit of meditation”:
If you follow what I am suggesting, the time comes when your consciousness remains unbrokenly in the meditative state – always with God. The devotee eventually becomes like Brother Lawrence: Whether he was sweeping floors or worshiping God before the altar, his mind was constantly engaged in Him. That is the state you want to come to; but it requires effort – it does not come by imagination. Eventually, you will find that even while you are doing your work, whenever you take your mind within for a moment, you will feel an inner effervescent well of devotion, of joy, of wisdom. You will say, “Ah, He is with me!” This is the fruit of meditation that can be enjoyed at any time, in quiet communion or in the midst of activity.
Encouraging the reader to let go of anxiety and tension, and to settle into a “calm, quiet waiting,” she quotes the words of Rabindranath Tagore, the Indian writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913:
When anxiety, tension, and restless impatience cloud your consciousness, you will be unable to behold God’s presence within. There has to be a calm, quiet waiting. Rabindranath Tagore expressed it beautifully in these words:
Have you not heard His silent steps?
He comes, comes, ever comes.
The devotee has to abide in the inner stillness, with an attitude of devotional, worshipful waiting. Then he begins to perceive that Joy, that Love, that Divine Presence welling up within himself: “He comes, comes, ever comes.”
For many years she kept an inspiring quote on her desk from Canon T.T. Carter, a significant nineteenth-century figure in the Church of England, in which he details the many blessings derived from humility:
Humility is a perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted, or vexed, or irritated, or sore, or disappointed. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed and despised. It is to have a blessed home in myself, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and be at peace as in a deep calmness when all around and above is troubled.
In speaking of the inner world, she turns to Saint Teresa of Avila’s imagery of an “interior castle”:
Be more cognizant of that inner world, where you can walk with God and talk with God, and hear His silent assurance that you are His own. This blissful relationship with God cannot come in any other way than by learning to reside more within, in the “interior castle” of which St. Teresa spoke.
She, of course, often quotes her own guru whose teachings were rooted in the yogic traditions of Hinduism:
Love is the only Reality; nothing else in life has any lasting attraction or interest for the soul. Many years ago, I said to Paramahansa Yogananda, “There is one thing I crave in life, and that is love; but I want to receive it from God.” His reply profoundly moved me: “Then I say this to you: Take that craving into meditation; meditate deeply, so deeply that your mind becomes filled with nothing but that desire for divine love, for God; and you will know Him who is love.”
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