You are not going to follow a path that doesn’t feel natural for very long, nor will it bring the growth you need, however well intentioned you are. There is a center in the body where love and spirit are joined, and that center is the heart. It is your heart that aches or swells with love, that feels compassion and trust, that seems empty or full.
Within the heart is a subtler center that experiences spirit, but spirit is not felt as an emotion or physical sensation. How, then, can you contact it?
According to spiritual masters, spirit is experienced first as the absence of what is not spirit. In India this is described as Netti, netti, which means, “Not this, not that.” Spirit is not caused; it is not bound by time and space; it is not a sensation that can be seen, touched, heard, tasted, or smelled.
This may seem like a baffling way to define something, but imagine that you had never seen the color white, that the whole world consisted of red, green, blue, and all the other hues. Then one day a master came to you with a black shirt and said, “If you wash this enough times, you will see that it is white.” If you ask to see white before you wash the shirt, what you ask is impossible. Black is the sum of all colors, and only if you wash them all away will white appear.
In the same way your present life is one of sensations, not just colors but all the stimulus that comes through the senses. Some of these sensations may be very pleasurable, but none of them is adequate to tell you what spirit is. Spirit lies beneath the layers of sensations. To experience it you must go to the heart and meditate upon it until everything that obscures spirit is cleansed.
Adapted from The Path to Love, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1997).