Chapter 3: A Sense of Separateness
This does not mean that love is devotion, but rather that love is a preparation for devotion. It means that if there is any phenomenon in the world which comes the closest to devotion, it is the love between two people. Why? - because in the deep love between two people non-duality is glimpsed. One gets only a glimpse, but that is enough.
When it is dark, when there is absolute darkness all around, even a single flash of lightning reveals much. It disappears again because lightning is not a lamp you can hold in your hand to seek the way, but on a dark night, if there is even one flash of lightning and you catch a glimpse of the road, your vision changes and your fear is overcome. Now you know that the path exists.
You have had just a glimpse of it, but you become fearless, knowing that now you can seek it out, now you can grope your way along. Now, even if you make a mistake and lose your way for a while, you will not lose your trust because you have had a glimpse of the way, and you know it is there. You may make a mistake in the dark, you may get lost, it may take time, but you will reach your destination because the path is there! Now a trust is born.
Devotion becomes possible in the lives of those who have had an experience of love. There is a trust - at least they have experienced two identities melting; a moment came when two could merge. Such a moment was possible for a second - it struck like lightning and vanished, but in that moment they could see that there were no longer two, and only oneness remained. From that moment the possibility of the divine and the devotee becoming one is substantial - it can be trusted, it can be depended upon.
That is why I say that devotion has become so difficult, because the possibility of love has become so difficult. But one thing needs to be understood - the phenomenon of the disappearance of duality. Let us look at it from a few other sides. Perhaps you may also have felt that in some moment you disappeared. No matter how that moment may have come about, from where it may have come; if there was even one such moment in your life.
Maybe it was an experience of beauty - you were sitting near a flower, and just looking at it your identity disappeared, the flower also disappeared, and only the fragrance of the flower, the beauty of the flower remained with you. Both poles vanished and only a perception of transparent beauty was left. Then you may get an idea of what this sutra is hinting at. Or perhaps there was a moment while listening to music when the listener and the musician were forgotten, and only the music remained. That may give you an idea of what the experience of non-duality is like.
And you will only come to know what this ultimate experience is like when it happens to you. But in the meanwhile, if there has been any moment of beauty, of love, some feeling of exhilaration in your life - when you felt that the knower and the known were no longer two, when you felt that the observer and the observed vanished and only a wave of experiencing remained - a wave in which both shores disappeared and only oneness remained. If you have ever had such an experience, it will be easy for you to understand this sutra.