When we are children, our heart is open and easily loves others. As we grow older, however, personality flaws arise to close off our heart, and the difficulties of life knock this natural love out of us. The spiritual life is about opening our heart once again. It is about rediscovering this pure, guileless love.

Swami Chidananda points out that in most spiritual paths we must learn to control part of our nature. In the path of study, jnana yoga, “you have to contradict through philosophical reasoning all your foolishness, lack of discrimination and strong thoughts. “ In the path of meditation, raja yoga, “you have to contradict the restless nature of the mind.”  In the path of bhakti, of devotion and love, on the other hand, there is nothing to contradict. We simply deepen and expand the natural tendency to love that is within us all. [1]

Our Divine essence is spontaneously loving and generous. When watered through love, this innate quality comes to the fore. Love breeds love. God’s love is infinite. The more we turn our heart to God, the more our heart grows and expands until we are immersed within God’s infinite radiance.

Sri Ramakrishna teaches that devotion is the best path for this age. The path of devotion is suitable for anyone. It can be combined with any other practice that we are doing. [2]

The Baal Shem Tov also emphasized the path of love. He told his hasidim that he had come into the world to teach the Jewish people a threefold path of devotion: love of God, love of Israel and love of the Torah. [3]

“He who with devotion offers me a leaf, a flower, a fruit, and a little water, that love offering I accept, made by the pure-hearted one. Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer as oblation, whatever you give, whatever austerity you perform, do that as an offering unto Me. I shall accept it.” – Bhagavad Gita 9:26-7

According to Swami Chidananda, on the path of love everything that we do is transformed into an offering to God. Every thought is a leaf, every word a flower, and every deed is a fruit offered up to the Lord as an expression of our everlasting love for Him. [4]

Making everything an offering to God is, in fact, the essence of Judaism. Each mitzvah is an offering to God. It is a token of our love. It is a sign of the eternal bond that exists between God and Israel.

Each line of the Torah that we read is an offering of love. Like two lovers, we are constantly retelling the story of our first meeting. We are ever seeking to rekindle the love of that first moment at Sinai. We are ever striving to experience the joy of the original Divine embrace.

Learning to see the Divinity in each one of His people is also an offering to God. It is an offering to God, when we have compassion for the deep scars that we carry from the Exile. It is an offering to God, when we acknowledge the profound healing that our people still need to go through. It is an offering to God, when we reach past the weary façade of Jacob to discover the spark of Israel that lies hidden behind.

Today, we can spread the field of offering even further. We can stretch our work of Divine service, our mitzvot, to encompass the rest of humanity and our relationship with the planet. We can revere not only the Jewish revelation, but also the “love letters” that God has written to other peoples and nations. We can search out the Divine spark that is burning in every human being, regardless of his or her religion, race or creed.

We no longer have a physical temple where we can offer up the daily sacrifices. We can, however, still make these love offerings in the temple of our heart.

The piyutim or prayers from the High Holydays declare:

My desire is Yours, my God

In You is my love and longing

My heart is Yours, and my innards

My spirit is Yours, and my soul

My hands are Yours, and my feet

My character is also from You

My self [essence] is Yours, my blood is Yours

And my skin with my body

My eyes are Yours, and my thoughts

And my appearance and my form

My Spirit is Yours, my strength is Yours

And my security and my hope…

This piyut by the medieval commentator, Abraham Ibn Ezra, is more than just a prayer. In it, Ibn Ezra gives the whole of himself to God. This is the true meaning of making everything an offering. It means to surrender our very being into His arms. Every undertaking then becomes an act of conscious surrender; every action becomes an act of devotion, an offering of love.

The extraordinary power of this act of devotion is that it links us directly with God. A sincere offering of love bypasses all the tumult and confusion of the mind and emotions and goes straight to the Source. It rises up through the worlds until it enters into the sacred Heart of God and merges with the Infinite Heart of all that is.

The heart center or chakra is called tiferet: beauty or glory. This is because every offering of the heart adds to the radiance of the Divine Presence within us. The more we love, the more God is revealed in us. The more we love, the more the Divine Presence will fill the temple of our heart.

This heart expansion is accomplished through love for God, love for His Holy Word, and love for His creations.

Every offering of the heart adds to the glory of the Divine Presence in this world.

This is because the revelation of God’s Love is the revelation of His Glory. Love makes the world shine with a supernal effulgence. Love infuses us with hope and faith. Love makes us want to sing His praise.

The path of devotion returns us to our natural state of openness. It expands our consciousness to include those around us in our love. It enables us to feel the suffering and the pain of others. The path of love joins us to the Universal Heart.

Copyright © 2009, by Yoel Glick

Acknowledgements    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Swami Chidananda, An Instrument of Your Peace, p. 159-60
  2. ‘M’, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, translated by Swami Nikhilananda, p. 452
  3. Shub, Besht on the Torah, Intro 69
  4. Swami Chidananda, An Instrument of Your Peace, p. 160