Now, I myself like to sit on the fence in this regard. Sometimes I agree that according to different temperaments there are different isms. At other times I become bold and I say no, all of them will end in monism, and I think I incline more often to this latter view. Still, nobody likes anything second best, and lest you think this view implies that to be a devotee is something less than the highest, I should tell you one reason I incline towards it.
You see, philosophy has often been written and studied in terms of reason; you might say there is no other way of finding truth. But there are other ways. There is the way of poetry, for example. What a poet writes sometimes doesn’t make any meaning if you are too literal about it. There is no logical analysis possible; if you try to analyse poetry, you will ruin it. But through poetry profound truths can be brought home to you, sweetly and beautifully. So, you see, there is that other way, the way of poetry. Through music, through all art we reach some truths, just as through the exercise of reason we arrive at certain truths. I sometimes think the language of art is more effective. Logic may point to truth, but art not only points to it but can make you feel it. One defect about art, however, is that it is a language of hints and signs. You cannot argue with anyone about hints and signs, and therefore the language of art has never been accepted as the language of persuasion. If you want to persuade another person and hold him to something definite, you have to use the language of reason; philosophy, therefore, has always taken to that language. And since monism is essentially the path of philosophy, it has been presented more often than not in the language of reason. Because of that, the conclusion has been that only through reason can a person attain to monism. I thoroughly disagree with that view. In persuading another person or writing a persuasive thesis that is to say, a thesis which will appeal to reason I may have to use the language of reason; but if I want to understand monism for myself, I can use the language of the heart as well as the language of the head. In other words, if you are temperamentally so suited that you reach towards love, towards beauty, then your heart can reach towards God, as in dualism, and yet your ideal can be monistic. That is to say, you can approach the monistic ideal at-onement with God also through the heart, through love.
But just as in the path of reason you must be alert to see that there is no logical error anywhere, because that will be the death of reasoning one little logical error made somewhere will extend through the subsequent arguments and vitiate all of them so in the path of love there is a defect you must also watch for. Do you know what is poison to love? Selfishness. And that goes for all kinds of love. Wherever there is a suspicion of one’s holding one’s self or one’s own interest from the other, love is vitiated. Therefore in the path of love, whether human or divine, we should be completely wary that no selfishness creeps in. Selflessness is the watchword.
Now, let us suppose a devotee says, I don’t want anything for myself, I want to be lost in God. At that moment he can attain to the monistic ideal. It is our selfishness which holds us away from this great truth. I have my own interests, I think in a certain way. Suppose the Lord comes to a person and says, Now, look here. You want Me, you say? If you want Me you should not have all your own things; these are like a barrier between you and Me. Lord, I just cannot help it. I cannot give up these things. You should not ask too much of me. The Lord will say, Very good, be My distant devotee from several miles off. But the more that person gives up, the less he has for himself, the closer he comes to God. Barriers become thinner and thinner until all barriers are gone between the soul and God. That is monism. I say therefore that it is also possible to realize the monistic ideal through love. And when I think that it can be realized either through reasoning or through love, I am inclined to think that the path of the dualist or the qualified monist remains incomplete until it has ended in this incomparable Love, indescribable Love, which is the same thing as Consciousness.