When the heart cries for God it is assumed that we have already reached the second stage, or are very close to it. Sri Ramakrishna would oftentimes say that if your eyes become filled with tears whenever you hear or repeat the name of God, you will know that you have approached true devotion. That is a very simple test. Some of you might think that Indian people do not know how to control their feelings; therefore at the slightest provocation their face becomes red, their eyes become tearful, and you might say that such signs cannot be considered true criteria of devotion. Well, I must tell you here that while there are individual differences, everyone, whether of East or West, who has gone through the preliminary practice of devotion reaches a stage where so-called sentimentality or emotionalism is completely abolished from his heart. He becomes very, very deep. He becomes strong of heart. You should never make the mistake of thinking that only weak-minded, emotional, soft people take to devotion and the strong take to jhana, or the path of reasoning. That is an altogether mistaken idea. A true devotee is a strong person. How do you think he dares to embrace the infinite God, if he is not lionhearted? He could not love God unless his heart was very big, very large. And you cannot be large-hearted if you are weak. The weak are small, small in every respect. They’re easily frightened, they cannot conceive anything very big in their heart or in their mind. So it is not for the weak-minded that the practice of devotion is prescribed; the paths of both knowledge and devotion are prescribed for the strong, not for the small. Nayam atma balahinena labhyah1 This Self cannot be attained by one who is devoid of strength.’ This Self means God. God cannot be attained by the weak. Those who seek God have to stand the test of every kind of temptation. The world is continually tempting the mind; it promises all these tinsel things things with an attractive appearance but underneath, pure hell that is what the world offers to the soul. And do you think a person would be able to withstand all these temptations unless he were strong? No, he would not. So don’t be mistaken.

As I said, when one passes through the preliminary practice of devotion, which has been called formal devotion, all spurious sentimentality and emotionalism disappear. And then when such a person repeats the name of God, or thinks about Him and feels his heart filled with emotion which finds expression in glistening eyes, those tears are not signs of sentimentality as we know it, nor are they expressions of national or individual temperament; they are sure signs that there is true love in the heart of the person. Of course, there are some poker-faced people; you do not know what feeling there is in their heart or what thought is passing through their mind. They are made that way. But if the eyes of a person who has reached that second state do become tearful it is a very profound thing, a very deep thing. Don’t think it is easy to shed tears in the name of God; it is not.

That’s a most extraordinary state, the state in which one’s heart begins to cry for God. If you protest that you are not a devotee and do not believe in crying for God, but in knowing Him, I would say you are totally ignorant when you talk like that. Read the lives of the saints and sages of any religion; see the tremendous longing in their hearts, whatever path they may have followed; then only can you understand what longing is. There cannot be any more profitable reading than that; it is much more profitable than even the study of philosophy or theology or religious teachings, because the lives of saints are demonstrations of the truths you read in those teachings. You may speak of life, but only when you see a living thing do you understand what life is, how it functions, what its expressions are. Similarly, you cannot understand spiritual truths until you have seen them embodied and demonstrated in the lives of spiritual men and women, in the lives of saints and sages.


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