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The Transformation of a Heart



by Al Drucker





These teachings have had a most profound effect on my life. Once I took them to heart, the inner reorientation proceeded at such a rapid pace it almost took my breath away. It seems like countless ages and many, many lives of studying and practicing spiritual truths become telescoped into just a few short years, after coming to Baba. My youth was spent in a traditional Jewish family in Germany before the War. When we fled from there and came to America, very quickly the wonders of the world became my fascination and science my religion. I was an agnostic bordering on outright atheism.

Before I came into Swami's fold, I knew or cared very little about any religion, including my own. With this background you will appreciate my embarassment when on a number of occasions after coming to Baba, he directed me to speak to the assembled devotees on Christmas Day about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. I protested that I was not a Christian, that I was brought up in the Jewish tradition, but Swami would have none of that. He said, "Jesus was also a Jew. Christians, Jews, Muslims, all are brothers. You speak." One fine Christmas, I was happily surprised by the talk that came out of me, just before Swami's Christmas discourse. I spoke from notes but felt very much transported by the words, a little bit like an old-type preacher caught up in his sermon...a role that was completely out of character for me. Afterwards a number of devotees came up and congratulated me on the fine talk.

That evening there was a Christmas dinner with Swami. One of the senior devotees mentioned to Swami the good talk that Drucker gave. But Swami wrinkled his nose in displeasure and said, "It was just a written thing. You pay attention to words, but God listens only to the feelings that come from a pure heart." That was a revelation... words are a product of the mind, and in the spiritual context, the mind must be cleansed of every impurity and become thought-free and word-free. Words do not matter; what matters is the heart, the spiritual heart, letting everything that pours forth come out of the inner recesses of the heart, spontaneously, unjudgingly and selflessly. That pure heart of hearts, Swami says, is the Atma, the one Self of all.

Earlier in my life before coming to Swami, I was moving from one internal crisis to another, overwhelmed by a dryness of heart that was excruciating. It slowly dawned on me that I was suffering from a terrible spiritual disease. I doubted if there was any way of ever bringing lasting joy into my life. Later, I came to realize that the name of that disease is ignorance, and its principal symptom is the feeling of separation...separation at a very deep level from everyone and everything, and most painful of all, I was a stranger even to myself. I worked very hard and played very hard and was involved in lots of causes that engaged my time and kept me distracted from myself. I seemed to need constant activity and entertainment to engage my attention and keep myself out of the clutches of boredom. I knew nothing at all about myself, who I was, without all these activities and identities, except to know that I would find little joy in spending time with what I felt was a very sterile self. I had read the masters speaking of what they called a spiritual heart, brimming with selfless love; but I had no experience at all in that area. Do I even have such a heart, I pondered?


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