When Maharaj-ji was near me, I was bathed in that love. One of the other Westerners with Maharaj-ji, Larry Brilliant, said:

How do I explain who Maharaj-ji was and how he did what he did? I don't have any explanation. Maybe it was his love of God. I can't explain who he was. I can almost begin to understand how he loved everybody. I mean, that was his job, he was a saint. Saints are supposed to love everybody.

But that's not what always staggered me, not that he loved everybody -- but that when I was sitting in front of him I loved everybody. That was the hardest thing for me to understand, how he could so totally transform the spirit of people who were with him and bring out not just the best in us, but something that wasn't even in us, that we didn't know. I don't think any of us were ever as good or as pure or as loving in our whole lives as we were when we were sitting in front of him.

Welcome to the path of the heart! Believe it or not, this can be your reality, to be loved unconditionally and to begin to become that love. This path of love doesn't go anywhere. It just brings you more here, into the present moment, into the reality of who you already are. This path takes you out of your mind and into your heart.

Love is a natural human inclination. People in other times and places have found this path in many different cultural situations. In India it's called bhakti yoga, finding ultimate union through love, a tradition that stretches back many centuries. Bhakti yoga practices are a way to enter into unconditional love, into the radiant heart, to dissolve oneself in the ocean of love, in the One. Later in the book you will meet a few of the Indian "saints" who have become that love. We will look at ways you can also tread on that path. There's no formula. Each of us has our own key to unlock the reality of our heart.

Falling into Love

The first time you experience unconditional love as an adult, it may be a gentle melting of a glacier. Or it may be more of a cataclysm, like a giant earthquake that shakes you to your inner core. You are falling in love, but the act of receiving love that intense and all-encompassing changes your conception of yourself. You can't swim in such a vast ocean and remain entirely in the small pond of your limited self. Even if that opening is only for an instant, even if it goes away and is apparently forgotten, that moment of realization, of the heart opening, colors the rest of a lifetime. There's no going back. The lingering taste of that ultimate sweetness remains and won't be denied.

Jesus used the metaphor of a fisherman. When you first feel that depth of joy, you are caught in the net of pure love by the divine fisherman; you're hooked on that love.

My guru is like a fly fisherman. The ego twists and pulls and runs out the line trying to escape, but each time the hook of divine love sets more deeply until finally the little you, the personality and all its habits, the bundle of thoughts and desires, surrenders to the greater Self, that being of pure love and consciousness that keeps pulling you in to merge.

When I was first got to India, I abhorred the idea of gurus. I was attracted to Buddhism, which appealed to the psychologist in me. How did I end up sitting in front of a Hindu guru? When I first met him, I hardly knew what I was doing there myself.