The longest journey that you will make in your life is from your head to your heart. ~ Gary Zukav
It s very easy to develop the head; but it is very difficult to develop the heart. Today, with the flood of information from the Internet, television, and other media, we are getting really good at growing our brains and regurgitating mere information. But sadly, our hearts remain neglected.
The beauty of being human is in developing humane qualities such as forgiveness, acceptance, compassion, kindness, humility and generosity of heart.
Spirituality and religion teach us that Source or God is in all things and beings in creation. When we cultivate love for this one Divine Source or God, love for all things and beings will grow in our heart. It is indeed a noble goal, and one that only we, as humans are capable of.
In the Ramayana, the Hindu epic poem depicting the story of Lord Rama’s life on earth, there is a portion in which He explains nine ways to develop divine love.
I share them with you here…
9 ways to develop divine love
1. Keep the company of noble souls: Noble souls are people who are great givers of love. They have sacrificed their own needs and comforts to spread joy and love to others. Being in the company of these people will open our hearts and kindle in us a desire to do the same for others.
2. Listen to the stories of God: Every tradition and religion has stories about God and his devotees. These describe the miracles and glory of the Lord. They uplift and provide inspiration for our life. ’Listening’ includes reading and watching the stories as well.
3. Sing the praises of the Lord with no selfish motive: Prayer often sinks to pleading and begging God to fulfill a long list of our personal desires. My Guru, Swami Chinmayananda used to joke that we don’t “pray to” God, but we “prey upon” God. Prayer should be a sincere and heartfelt expression of love and gratitude. He explained that the only thing we should ask is “for more and more love to love Him.”
4. Chant the holy names of God: We can chant any Divine name that we like. Sound invokes form. The word, ‘cloud’, immediately brings up a picture of a cloud in our minds. So, chanting a holy name of God will invoke His presence and divinize our thoughts.
5. Control the senses and live a clean, chaste life: Often, our strong desires to enjoy sensuous pleasures stir up negative emotions and urge us to take wrong actions. Excessive desires to enjoy sensuous pleasures lead us away from our connection to the Divine. Living in self-control and moderation will ensure that we live a clean, chaste life.
6.See God in All: At the core of living a spiritual life is living the truth of the Oneness of all things and beings in creation. Spirit or God is one and the same essence in all. Striving to see the Divine in everything and everyone will open our hearts in loving acceptance and reverence for all.
7. Be content in life and never point out the faults of others: In life we always get what we ourselves have earned from our previous actions. We are encouraged to be content and not compare what we have with others. No one is without blemish, so it is unfair and wrong to see others’ faults. Pointing out the faults of others does not highlight how bad they are; but rather, reflects on the kind of people we are.
8. Be honest and straightforward in your dealings with others: We are asked to remember that no one likes to be cheated or lied to. We should treat others with honesty and openness, just as we would like them to treat us.
9. Have firm faith in God at all times: God is the creator and controller of this magnificent universe. The planets’ rotation around the sun, the moon cycles, the changing seasons, and all natural occurrences happen with harmonious precision. Surely, we can surrender our cares in His most capable hands with full faith.
Cultivating only one quality will do
Lord Rama tells us that we don’t have to practice all nine means of devotion. Even if we seriously practice implementing only one of them, love with take root in our hearts and Divine grace and blessings will surely come in to flood our lives.
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