Open Your Heart
His grace is always there, but we do not open our heart to receive it.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Quest for Light
William Holman Hunt’s famous painting “The Light of the World” depicts Jesus Christ holding a glowing lantern and knocking on an old wooden door. The lack of an exterior door handle shows that the door can be opened only from the inside.
The door represents our hearts. Saints and mystics say that our hearts have been closed to the Lord since creation. Those of us who follow a spiritual path may find this difficult to believe. After all, what else do our efforts in adhering to the Sant Mat principles, attending satsang and engaging in seva signify but our attempt to open our hearts to the creator?
Maharaj Charan Singh once gave the following example: The Niagara Falls carries water in abundance, yet the one who comes with a thimble will receive only a few drops. If someone comes with a cup or a big bowl, he will get proportionately more. But the one who puts a bucket under the falls, can draw water abundantly. It is not a question of whether the Lord’s grace exists, but rather our receptivity to it.
Each spiritual practitioner comes to the Master with a different level of receptivity or spiritual preparedness. Seekers who are more receptive are able to more easily imbibe the teachings and spiritual guidance of their Master.
Once a Sufi saint, Bahaullah, visited another saint, Fariduddin, to receive spiritual guidance. Bahuallah gained the wisdom imparted to him in a very short span of time. This resulted in jealousy among some of Fariduddin’s disciples, who even accused their Master of favouritism. Fariduddin then told his disciples that Bahaullah was like dry wood – ready for ignition and highly combustible, while the rest of them were like wet wood – slow to catch fire.
While some of us are able to make the necessary sacrifices and follow the discipline of a spiritual path right away, others need to be slowly weaned away from their previous habits. How do we improve our receptivity as disciples?
Between the Master and disciple, there is a channel of giving and receiving. The channel of giving which constitutes the Master’s teachings, guidance and constant flow of grace, is always open. We have to ensure that the channel of receiving is not blocked. We do this by listening intently to the Master’s teachings, following his instructions for how to do daily meditation faithfully and remaining in complete obedience to him.
Meditation makes us receptive, enables us to receive the Lord’s grace. Meditation is nothing but to make us receptive. He is always giving, always giving. He’s more anxious to give to us than we are prepared to take, and meditation makes us receptive to receive his grace. There’s no other way which can make you receptive to receive his grace, only meditation.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
Saints and mystics have come to awaken in us the desire for God-realization. They have been continually knocking on the door of our hearts, urging us to fulfil our singular purpose of coming to this world, which is union with the Lord. But we do not pay heed to their teachings. We close our hearts to them but remain open to the world with its riches, attractions and attachments.
At times, we may feel dry and empty during our meditation. We find it difficult to focus and feel we are going nowhere. We are advised not to analyze our meditation. That dryness does not mean that we have no love; rather it shows that we are trying to be receptive to his love by being obedient to him. All that is asked of us is that we show up regularly and punctually and sit in meditation, whether the mind cooperates or not.
In worldly relationships, when we open our hearts to each other, it means we don’t hold anything back. We are vulnerable and responsive. Similarly, opening our hearts to the Master means that we become receptive to the Lord’s grace, which is considered the basis of all spiritual attainment on the path of devotion. It is through his grace that the blessed moment will arrive when we open our hearts to the Master and allow us to walk through the door and behold his Radiant Form.