As seen in the story below, I do believe that love has the power to convert. It has the power to change, but many persons do not understand love. They think that their personal emotional need for comfort is love; that their personal emotional need for someone to say, “Yes, you are great. You are wonderful,” is love. Love is that which requires no such assurances. It is not the fulfillment of weak moments. When there is love a mere mental call will bring the object of your love. That is how the masters call disciples to themselves. People think that these masters have such overwhelming powers of the mind that they send out some shooting ray or rope, a thought with which they tie the disciple’s mind and call him. That is not the case. Masters just love. Simple heart-to-heart love that people respond to.

One time when I was in India I met a young priest from the mountains. He lives in Dehradun, in the same city where my family has settled, and he joins in our family’s ceremonies and rituals. He is a thin, short man with no lines on his face, reflecting absolute purity. The paths of those whom one is supposed to teach just cross, under other pretexts. Those who are meant to toy on the path will stay. Those who are not meant to stay long this time round will take what they need from an ashram or from a teacher, and then they will vanish. Anyway, without saying anything aloud, I decided in my mind, that before I left I was going to teach this young man meditation. With such a person you do not have to teach much. You just awaken that which is already present. You do not have to sit down and give forty hours of lecture. Five minutes and that’s enough. For those who are truly coming on the path five minutes of instruction are enough. They do not need all the reinforcement, reminders and inspiring messages. It so happened that I was very busy during my stay there, and the day arrived when I was to leave Dehradun to return to the United States. I realized that I did not get the opportunity to teach meditation to this young priest. Just as I was about to leave home for my doctor’s appointment before heading out of the city, this young man appeared on my doorstep asking to see me. I explained that I was on my way to the doctor before leaving the city, but invited him to accompany me for my appointment. I asked him, “What brought you?” He replied, “Normally I wake up at 4 a.m. to do my prayers, but today I couldn’t. At 4 o’clock this morning, there was this urge in me to go and see Panditji. Go! Go!” He continued, “I couldn’t complete my prayers. Something urged me to come to you!” So, sitting with me in the doctor’s office, I began to give him meditation instruction. He sat for his first meditation practice in the reception room, where other people were waiting to see the doctor. The doctor curiously inquired, “How long is he going to sit there in meditation?” He was just sitting there absolutely still. Five minutes of instruction were enough. I have seldom seen a person who, after only five minutes of instruction, and with all the comings and goings in a doctor’s reception room, could sit down for forty-five minutes without a movement in his eyelids until the doctor had completed my test.

So what called him? And what sent him there? The great Guru mind of the universe generated love in him and sent him there. This is the power of universal love that pulls us together and unites us. Love is such a dedication and commitment that no excuse can break it. If you have that concentrated, centered love, it must come to fruition.

Love has the power to convert. It has the power to make time stand still to protect you. Love has that kind of power. At the right time and at the right place, if you have the belief of love, help will come to you. The first ingredient for a good relationship is conviction. Belief in the power of an unquestioning love, a love that has no need to defend itself. This is not to say that you should let someone unscrupulously exploit you. If you have the power though, you can even occasionally see change in such a person. I know someone who lived in a village notorious for robbers and bandits. He preached in that village as a child of thirteen. He was not concerned with their banditry. Every night these bandits would come to sit and listen to his lectures.

Similarly, my master told me about an incident. He said, “Once the most wanted leader of a bandit gang was sitting on one side of me, and on the other side was seated the police superintendent in charge of searching for him.” Swamiji continued, “I was hugging both of them. One did not know that the other was the bandit, and the other was unaware of the close proximity of the police superintendent! I gave them both my love. The one took leave of me and went away without knowing that he was sitting next to the police superintendent, and the other went away without knowing that he was sitting next to his most-wanted quarry.” To begin to learn such powerful love, one must do so early in one’s own training and education, in fact from the very childhood.

There are people who have entered into relationships which they have had to break. They felt judged because their love was not powerful enough. Or there are those who have entered into marriages which did not last. Or there are some who are in unhappy marriages and who have remained in those situations without seeing any change. One worries for them and wants to pray for them. One wishes that something would happen that would change their situation. So, I am not saying, “Keep suffering,” or, “Go into the depths of depression because you have made this commitment and now there is no way out.”

In love, as in anything else, one cannot go beyond one’s own capacity. We may acknowledge that the way of Gandhi or that of St. Francis is the highest way. In acknowledging that, let’s not forget that our capacities are limited. We have not yet become saints. We should recognize that also. Suffer only as much as you easily can. If your power of love is such that you can convert and change the other person, then go forward and do so diligently. But if you do not find that capacity in you then try to increase it. If you are unable to increase that capacity, then do whatever is prudent.

Westerners are technique-oriented, taking everything in a legalistic manner. It has to be this way or that; if it is this way then the other way is wrong. There is no right and wrong about it, for at each level of the development of our capacities, rights and wrongs are relatively changed. You are the ultimate judge of your capacity vis-à-vis your situation. The responsibility is ultimately yours. You have the freedom of will and you have the freedom to act. No one can make the decision for you. I do believe that a human being can reach the utmost heights of purity that is possible. It doesn’t happen overnight though, and one positive act does not make a saint. Sometimes I hear such words: “Well, yesterday I tried, but I got no response.” The question is, however, what did you do up to yesterday and what did you do from yesterday up to today? Especially when you are applying the power of love to change your partner in life; it is a long, slow and patient process. It is not a license to the other person to exploit you either. So, the lines of balance are very delicate. What is required is constant observation of yourself, your own motives and the level of purity that you are reaching for.

The first thing is to become clear about your ideals in life. Your mind should become clear. What are the ideals of human perfection? What constitutes a complete human being? What are the ideals followed by all the great saints of the past? Aspire to nothing less. But you can keep an escape clause in aspiration with the adverb, “eventually”. Aspire to be nothing less eventually! Between now and the fulfillment of those ideals you have a long way to go. You have a long journey, and you will fail along the way. Accept the failure. You will succeed. Rejoice and do not become proud of the success. Eventually the force and the power of these thoughts that you are cultivating will gather strength. The Buddha said, “Do not think that such high virtue will never come to me. Even by pouring a single drop by drop, a whole vessel can be filled.”