what makes the heart sing

What Makes the Heart Sing

Learning to attend, to listen deeply, to what stirs the heart with divine remembrance infuses our days with hope and profound well-being. Pay attention to the lighted path.





Begin the day knowing that whatever you need is already on its way to you. Greet people and events as divine messengers and enjoy the play of life. –Daily Inspirations from Yogacharya O'Brian

This talk is the 3rd message in the Imagine! series, which explores how we can respond to the moment before us and consciously and creatively cooperate with the Infinite to bring forth the highest potentials for our lives and our world.

In the first two messages, I reflected on the essential skill of letting the mind sink into the heart—allowing our restless, planning, worrying, agitated or dull minds to get quiet and reveal the innate peace and clarity of the divine Self. We start there.

To cooperate with the Infinite, we become receptive to that Reality that is greater than thought, beyond the construct of ego and the thinking mind.

Opening ourselves to higher possibilities requires letting go of what we know and even what we think we want. We learn how to listen and how to ask new questions. What does Life want? What is the highest or greatest good that contributes to well-being for all? How can I serve? How can I participate in that?

Last week, I offered a three-step practice for engaging imagination as a springboard to cooperate with unfolding divine grace and possibility. Before step one, we get quiet. Meditate. We let our thoughts settle and become receptive to awareness of our essence of being, that which is pure and still, awake, whole, and unconditionally pervaded by peace.


  1. With clarified awareness, look directly at how things are right now. Without blame or judgment, just notice.
  2. Next, access imagination and capture the vision of possibility for this situation. Where there is brokenness, see healing. Where there is lack, see abundance. See it, feel it, and experience it in your mind and body.
  3. Become receptive to the uplifting activity of divine grace, which will guide and provide beyond what you could have imagined. Going forward: Follow the lighted path.

What Makes the Heart Sing

How do we follow the lighted path? How do we know what is right, what is ours to do?

Someone asked my guru Roy Eugene Davis that question once, and he replied, “What makes your heart sing with joy?”

We know what that is.

He was referring to the soul-sense of satisfaction that permeates our entire being when what we are doing is Right. Right with a capital R indicates that it is in accordance with Rta, the divine order of the universe. The Taoists refer to this as primal Virtue. It is not conventional morality constructed as outer rules, but the harmony innate to the Source that flows from it. When we consciously connect to that Virtue, the soul’s natural joy shines forth.

Author and philosopher Jacob Needleman wrote:

The point is not only what we do but the source from which we do it. The metaphysical nature of that source determines the ethical, cognitive, and pragmatic value of all human action—that is, the goodness, truth, and practicality of what we do in our life on earth. Our primary and perhaps only true responsibility is to become individuals who are also conduits for the supreme creative power of the universe. All other responsibilities—for knowing the truth, for feeling the good, and for accomplishing what is useful and effective—must flow from this. [1]

To become individuals who are also conduits for the supreme creative power of the universe sounds big! It could be grand, but that is not the meaning. It’s not about big accomplishments or great endeavors but our degree of receptivity and humility. It is our ability to be open to the Source to express Its divine plan and purpose through us. For every one of us, it is about being fully alive, awake, aware, open-hearted, and clear-minded. That is how we traverse the Lighted Path.

The Lighted Path, the way of cooperating with unfolding divine potential, is illumined from within.

Our bodies, minds, and our essence of being are the dwelling place of God, of ultimate Reality. The place to look for harmony, the way to tell if we are on the lighted path, is to pay attention to how we are doing what we are doing. How present are we to The Presence? How connected are we to the Inner Light of awareness?

Where are our thoughts, speech, and actions coming from? From the ego’s need for power and urgency and particular outcomes? From the mind’s hurry and worry? From the heart’s love and compassion? Or, from the promptings of the soul toward truth and peace?

The mind is like a kitchen door in a restaurant that swings in two directions. Awareness moves through the mind either toward “The Cook,” the divine Self, or toward the dining room of life with all its sensory activity.

Here are some verses from the Maitri Upanishad:

When a seeker’s mind is quieted in its own source, that person is no longer misled by the objects of the senses, which can be deceptive and are determined by past actions…It is only by means of a peaceful mind that a person is free from the bondage of action. With a serene soul, one gains unending bliss. If the mind were as firmly fixed on Brahman as it usually is attached to the objects of the senses, who then, would not be supremely free? When a person—having made the mind perfectly steady—free from distraction and laziness—enters into that state beyond the mind: that one attains the supreme abode! The mind must be steadied until it sinks into the heart. [2]

The key to this teaching is understanding that all we do, all we offer, is tied to our transformation. We want to do useful things--creative, inspired, or successful things that contribute in a positive way. But sometimes, in our haste to get things accomplished, we do not see that we are the contribution. We are the work in progress. We, ourselves, are the contribution—not just what we do, but how we do it, and in what spirit. What we are contributing and what we are becoming along the way is inseparable from what we create.

Pay attention to that.

Paramahansa Yogananda wrote:

It’s a good idea to keep a mental diary. Before you go to bed each night, sit for a short time and review the day. See what you are becoming. Do you like the trend of your life? If not, change it. [3]

To pay attention to the lighted path, to recognize if we are attuned to the divine Self and open to grace, requires introspection. Daily practice of introspection is necessary. See what you are becoming. Don’t just look for a product, for an accomplishment, or a result. Look to the heart, to the soul’s joy.

What makes your heart sing with joy?


[1] Jacob Needleman, from the Introduction to Tao te Ching, translated by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English with Toinette Lippe, (New York: Penguin Random House, 1972, third Vintage edition, 2011) xv, xvi.

[2] Maitri Upanishad, selections from 6.24-6.34 author’s version based on translation by William K. Mahony, The Artful Universe: An Introduction to the Vedic Religious Imagination, (New York: SUNY Press, 1998), 197-198.

[3] Paramahansa Yogananda, SRF website, accessed June 12, 2021, 9:12 pm https://yogananda.org/blog/introspection-the-greatest-art-of-progress-part-2






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Original Intimacy: Soul Pilgrimage to Five Auspicious Healing Shrines 

Original Intimacy Satsang

I am the wetness of water, the radiance of the moon and the sun, the sound in the air, and the sweet fragrance of earth. I am the brilliance in fire and the life in all beings.  —Bhagavad Gita

The Five Auspicious Shrines are sacred portals for healing that connect us to the great web of life, return us to original intimacy, and restore us to wholeness. This soul journey is the one we have been waiting for—a pilgrimage not in the world, or of it, but as it.

Journey with Yogacharya in this lesson series and discover the five elemental and energetic shrines of the earth, the physical body, and the soul’s subtle pathways. Each element—earth, water, fire, air, and space—can teach us how to care for ourselves, one another, and our planetary home.



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