The five states of the heart in the spiritual ascent towards attaining the divine.
My revered guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, one of the first in modern times to reveal the unity of Christ’s teachings with India’s Sanatana Dharma, wrote profoundly about how man’s spiritual evolution consists of the purification of the heart. From the state in which consciousness is completely deluded by maya (“the dark heart”), man progresses through the successive states of the propelled heart, the steady heart, the devoted heart, and ultimately attains the clean heart, in which, Sri Yukteswarji writes, he “becomes able to comprehend the Spiritual Light, Brahma [Spirit], the Real Substance in the universe.”
~ Sri Paramahansa Yogananda in p.439 of Excerpts from Discourse 26, The Second Coming of Christ
The Five States of the Human Heart To attain that perfect love is a gradual process of evolution. Swami Sri Yukteswar, guru of Paramahansa Yogananda, describes how the human heart with its feelings and emotions progresses through five different states.
The Holy Science (pp. 77-86) by Swami Sri Yukteswar, published by Self Realization Fellowship
(I) The dark state of the heart
Most human beings are in the first state, in which feeling is scattered and diffused outwardly in desires for material things. This is called the dark state of the heart, in which one’s consciousness is directed solely to the outer creation, in complete obliviousness of the Creator.
(II) The propelled state of the human heart
After many incarnations, there comes a time when we grow dissatisfied with mere things, when the experiences of this world leave us empty. We yearn for a higher truth, a deeper understanding of life. When we begin to search sincerely for that experience, we have entered what Sri Yukteswarji calls the propelled state of the human heart. That is, we are propelled by our inner dissatisfaction to seek something more than the superficial experiences and pursuits of the senses. In this state, we eventually find a spiritual teacher or teaching that can show us the way to the Infinite.
(III) The steady state of the human heart
As our upward evolution continues, we enter the third stage: the steady state of the human heart. In the steady state one’s propelled restlessness is gradually transformed, through self-control, into the calm will to persevere on the path.
(IV) The devoted state of the human heart
By remaining steadfast in our spiritual practices, we come to the fourth state, in which God becomes a reality to us through direct perception. This is called the devoted state of the human heart.
(V) The pure state of the human heart
As we deepen that devotional contact with God, the dross, the lower inclinations that prevent us from being receptive to the presence of God, falls away. We then reach the highest level, what Sri Yukteswarji refers to as the clean or pure state of the human heart. One feels not just devotion for God, but true union with Him. As two human beings who are deeply in love can intuit what each other is thinking and feeling, in divine communion between the soul and God there is a continuous, infinitely more intimate interchange of love and caring.
Read more about Yogananda’s teachings here.