Now, when one has reached this longing of the heart, one cannot stop there. From our standpoint that might seem a wonderful achievement, but from the standpoint of the person who has reached that state, it is just the beginning of further effort. He or she wants to undertake all kinds of spiritual practices. If you have that longing, you can do a great deal; your bod\ will accept it. Whether you eat or not, sleep or not. whether you are physically strong or weak, you can do a tremendous amount of spiritual practice. Before that, everything has to be regulated, everything has to be done according to form, but at that time you undertake unheard-of struggles. Why this struggle? Because although the gross form of disunion has been conquered in the mind, subtle forms are still there; they have not yet been conquered, and if one is incautious these subtle forms of division have a tendency to reappear. You sometimes hear of a very spiritual man suddenly turning worldly, and you wonder how it happened. Incautiousness probably has brought him down. It is these subtle desires that you are now conquering; you are trying to uproot everything. If you want to clear a plot of ground, you cut down the trees and also take out the main roots; yet perhaps some small roots have remained underground, and after a time sprouts come from them; these are the things you now want to root out for good. A person in that state is almost fearsome to an ordinary person. If you come near him, and if you have insight, you would be frightened by the tremendous intensity of his mind. You would not even understand him; such people are no longer like ordinary people, that you can judge them by your standards.
Well, as a result of that effort comes God-vision. The last traces of finitude disappear from the soul. Sometimes that state the highest state of devotion has been spoken of as the death of the mind. Mind is the symbol of finitude; Spirit is not. It is the Spirit that knows the Spirit; man the Spirit knows God the Spirit. That state is the worship of the Spirit by the Spirit, as Swami Vivekananda said. And, you see, that is the state indescribable. Of course, in one generation very few reach it, and rarely do we know them. Some of you might think that if a person has become a saint we would know about it. No. It is said in our books that sometimes they appear like fools or like dunces. How shall we know who has reached that state? Only a knower of God would be able-to recognize such people. Some, of course, we do know, because, as I said earlier, they assume a mission among men; otherwise we are not apt to know of them. But in any case you should remember always that that state is not reached by a fluke.
Most of us here have not yet reached the middle state that condition where the heart cries day and night for the Lord. No, not yet. How to reach that state is the question. As I said, the first part of this devotional venture is formal; that is to say, we have to go through all kinds of formal practices. We do not even know whether the feelings that come into our heart are trustworthy or not. Don’t bother about it. This is a stage in which there is a great deal of struggle, and in struggle, one isn’t always able to measure what is right and what is wrong, which emotion is genuine and which is spurious. Just follow your own ideal, and gradually you will come out of this uncertain stage.
Some of the important elements in formal practice are worship of the Lord; keeping the company of devotees if you can find devotees, and if they will allow you to keep their company; reading of the scriptures, of the lives of saints and sages; repeating the name of God; singing His glory; meditating upon Him; and serving the children of God. Now, these are essential elements. Don’t think that you can just pick and choose there. You have to do all of them. According to your need and temperament you may do one more than the others, but all of them you will have to do. You cannot say, Oh, yes, I love God, but I hate people; I don’t care for them.’ Remember that classification I mentioned? Only the lowest kind of devotee would do that. But then you do not want to remain in the lowest grade always; so you will have to mend your ways. You will have to learn to like everybody and serve everybody. And then when you do all these things consistently day after day, gradually great love of God will come into your heart.