WHEN someone takes one step towards the Lord, the Lord takes twenty steps towards him.’ It is a striking phrase which has vivified and energized the devotion of many yogis. Nevertheless, it can be interpreted, disregarding the plain meaning of the words, into something quite different. In an off-guard period, one who believes himself a devotee can reason something like this:

`What this says is, that when I take a step towards Him, the Lord takes twenty steps towards me. In fact He is doing the same as I do, and then He is adding nineteen more steps of his own. So if I take no step at all, then admittedly the Lord will not take that step either; but then He will add nineteen steps of his own to it. He won’t arrive quite so quickly, perhaps, but the difference will soon be made up.’

Someone who heard of this remarked: `That idea is based on addition, and it is against the clear meaning. What the text says is, that when one step is taken towards the Lord, the Lord multiplies it by twenty. Even if it is only a single step, that step of the devotee becomes twenty steps by the Lord. But if the devotee cannot be bothered to take even one step…. well, twenty times nothing is nothing. It is true that the Lord could appear immediately,, but He leaves it to the devotee to have the joy of himself moving, even a little, towards the Lord.’

TREVOR LEGGETT

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