Teachings

Purity of Heart

Practice

Written by Swami Paramatmananda Puri, 2012

Purity of heart is one of the qualities that Amma says we should cultivate in order to gain inner peace in our daily lives and for spiritual consciousness to dawn in us. It’s not enough to spiritual practices. We also have to cultivate qualities that will calm our minds down, like kindness, patience, introspection, selflessness and so on. Why? Because their opposites drain away the energy that we accumulate through their practice.

Amma uses the example of ants and sugar. We collect sugar on one side of the room and then let ants in from the other side. What happens? There’s nothing left after some time. Collecting sugar is like cultivating good qualities, and allowing negative habits to persist in us is like letting the ants come in and eat up the sugar.

Many people come to Amma and say, “I have been doing meditation for the last five years and still I have no peace of mind or spiritual experience.” Amma’s answer is always the same: “It’s true that you were doing practices, but it was leaking out in so many ways.“

Anger is number one as far as 'leaks' go. Anger, fear, worries, hatred, jealousy—all these consume our energy. Why should we even try to save energy? If we conserve energy, not only will we maintain our health and have a bright intellect, but ultimately we will start to experience our real Self. There is no need to wait for God to come down and bless us with Self-knowledge. It is enough if we learn how to not waste the energy that is ours. The practice of purity of heart brings about that possibility.

Become innocent like a child

Purity of heart is, in one word, to be innocent—like a child. Just think of what a child is like, an innocent child. Not all children are innocent, as everybody must have noticed. Some are more innocent than others; some have very little innocence  Just imagine the most innocent child that you ever saw and then try to be like that. We shouldn’t become childish. Be mature, be wise, but at the same time be childlike.

Why does everybody feel so attracted to an innocent child? Whoever we may be, a kind of happiness wells up in our heart when we see an innocent child. We want to go nearby and play with them or just watch them for some time. Amma has the same innocent nature. The naturally innocent person, or even one who has developed innocence through great effort, can be sure to get the grace of God. Such a person will always be protected somehow or other. The innocent soul is most dear to God. He may have no other redeeming quality. He may be an otherwise useless person with no skills, but if he is very innocent, that is better than being clever and skillful.