Question: You once said that love is just the first step in the spiritual ladder and that it has to be followed by devotion and surrender. But in my meditation I cannot go beyond love, so how am I ever going to reach devotion and surrender?

Sri Chinmoy: If I want to learn the English alphabet, I cannot ignore the existence of the letter ‘a’ and start my dictionary with ‘b’. If I do not place my foot on the first rung of a ladder, then how can I go up to the second rung? If I try to skip the first rung and go directly to the second, I may fall and break my leg. The second step is more difficult than the first, and the third is infinitely more difficult than the second. In the spiritual life, love is the first step that you have to take. If you have no love for God, then you will never have devotion for God.

You want to love God sleeplessly. Right now that is impossible, but if you can love God during your prayers and meditations, if you can consciously love God for a few hours during the day, you can make a start. From that stage, you can enter into the devotion-world and from there go to the surrender-world. Love, devotion and surrender are all interlinked. Based on the amount of love and devotion you have, you may not be able to achieve unconditional, breathless surrender to God; still there are definitely some ways in which you can surrender to God’s Will. But you do need to start your journey with a certain amount of love before you can enter into the devotion-world and from there go to the surrender-world.

You are a seeker. Therefore, you definitely love God; to say you have no love for God would be the twentieth century’s worst possible lie. Now you have to increase your love. It is like taking exercise to increase your muscle power. Prayer and meditation are like exercise in the spiritual world. You can easily strengthen your love for God by virtue of your prayer and meditation. You can start by meditating for fifteen minutes, and from there you can gradually increase your time to twenty minutes, thirty minutes and so on.

There is not a single disciple of mine who does not love God. Now it is only a question of developing the ability to love God unconditionally. Some of my disciples are able to love God unconditionally for five minutes or half an hour during their meditation. But when the meditation is over, all their expectations and demands come forward. Someone will say, “He did not do this or she did not do that, so how is it that Guru is smiling at that person?” Or someone else will say, “How is it that so-and-so is quite happy, whereas I have prayed and meditated and still I am not happy?” So our love for God becomes all of a sudden conditional. Worse than that, expectation comes; and even worse than that, demand comes.

We do have love for God. Now we have to increase our love for God. I always say that God Himself at every moment is increasing His own Eternity and His own Infinity; this gives Him joy. Right now we cannot imagine what God’s Infinity is. But when we identify ourselves with God’s Will, we can see God’s Infinity and God’s Vision at a glance. We cannot measure it with the mind; it is not like climbing 8,000 metres up the Himalayas. Infinity we can know only by virtue of our inner vision. When we meditate, we increase our inner vision; we increase our love for God.