Learning to Love
The Great Master provides us with a powerful reminder of the pivotal role that love plays in our lives. In Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. III, he says:
The fire of love, being kindled, other virtues and gifts come of themselves.…
God is Love and the world lives by Love. It is, therefore, the duty of a human being to love. One who loves never injures the feelings of others.
This message presents us with a very real challenge: to work at fulfilling our responsibility to love. Although the world at large may be aware of the important role of love, it is not reflected in the way people behave. Baba Ji constantly reminds us that we need to work at becoming better human beings, and learning to love will surely do exactly that.
However, we have little understanding of the nature of love, and examples of love in action are not abundantly evident in the world. They are certainly not reported in the media, but at the Dera examples of love in action are evident all the time: thousands of sevadars going about the business of sweeping, cooking and preparing food; breaking bricks; carrying soil and concrete on their heads; erecting buildings and building roads – and all of this simply to please their Master. This is love in action, of the highest order.
Apart from this loving seva, Rumi advocates that there is another proactive approach to learning how to love. He says:
Your task is not to seek for love but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
So, we need to critically and realistically examine everything we do, say, and think, to ensure that we are totally in line with the Master’s will. Only in this way will we gradually remove the barriers to love that we have created within ourselves.
A major barrier preventing us from experiencing any progress on the path is the ego. We are told by the Masters that true divine love is only experienced when we become lost in our beloved. This means our ego-based identity evaporates as we become one with the One.
Another major barrier to learning how to love is our tendency to adopt a negative approach to life. Love, by its very nature, is rooted in positivity. Negativity is the absence of love. So choosing a more positive attitude to life will automatically remove a major barrier to love in our lives.
The Masters tell us that the sublime state of spiritual love is not something we can simply adopt – it is entirely up to the Master’s grace. Maharaj Charan Singh explains this very clearly. He says:
We can only do meditation, the rest we leave to the Father. Meditation will help us be receptive to his grace. He gives the love – we have only to become receptive to this love. He is the one who gives his own love. He pulls us from within.
This brings us back to the most basic and most important understanding of our entire journey on this path – everything comes from our meditation. Without meditation we will go nowhere. It is this intense focus on our meditation that will assist in removing the barriers to love.
So our attaining this sublime state of divine love is entirely in his hands. The only thing that is in our hands is to ensure that we are living in the will of the Master, to become more receptive to the divine love we so earnestly need. And in the light of all his gifts, that surely is the very least we can do in return.
Baba Ji has told us on many occasions that the path is about becoming better human beings. And in Philosophy of the Masters, Great Master says:
Humanity simply means love for the Lord and his creation. Its other name is sympathy or compassion, fellow-feeling or heart-felt attraction. Its proof is that one’s heart melts like wax on seeing the suffering of another. … A man should feel for others and consider their sufferings as his own.
This should encourage us to take a long, hard look at where we stand, as regards adopting love as the guiding code of conduct in our lives. The vessel of our heart is the seat of love – so we can start by ensuring that our heart is not soiled by persistent thoughts of anger, lust, hatred, jealousy, hostility, greed, materialism, and selfishness.
The next step could be to find ways of living this love by integrating a loving attitude into our daily lives. For this to be effective, we need to identify and focus our awareness on virtues and values that will promote the habit of practising love. The mystics say that the divine love we seek can be kindled only by the grace of the Master – but that shouldn’t deter us from embracing a loving approach in everything we do in our lives.
In Philosophy of the Masters, the Great Master provides eight virtues or guidelines we can follow to assist us in adopting a loving approach in our everyday lives – and becoming better human beings. These are: compassion, contentment, forgiveness, truthfulness, sweetness, austerity, charity, and cleanliness or purity.
The first and most important of these virtues is compassion, and this paves the way for many of the others, such as contentment and forgiveness.
The Great Master says:
Persons without compassion have human forms but do not deserve to be called men, as they are ruled by animal passions. Obstinacy, selfishness, cruelty and injustice are a part of their nature.
Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. III
So, in order to love we need to ensure that our heart is purified and unpolluted. This process can be facilitated by gradually integrating these virtues into our daily lives. The mystics tell us that love is our life. For most people, however, the true nature of love is a mystery. This extract, from the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, the nineteenth-century Swedish theologian, uses a beautiful comparison to help us understand the nature of love, and how it relates to our life. He writes:
We can get some idea that love is our life from the warmth of the sun in our world. We know this warmth acts like the life shared by all earth’s plants, because when warmth increases in the spring, plants of all kinds sprout from the soil. They dress themselves in their leafy finery and then in their blossoms and eventually in fruit. This is how they ‘live.’ When the warmth ebbs away, though, as it does in autumn and winter, they are stripped of these signs of life and they wither.
Love works the same way in us, because love and warmth correspond to each other. This is why love makes us warm. God alone – the Lord – is love itself, because he is life itself.
I’m sure we all identify with this description and have, at some point, experienced the warmth Swedenborg is writing about, but this comparison begs the question: what can we do to retain and increase that warmth in our lives? If the Master were to answer this question, we know what he would say: meditation.
In Spiritual Gems the Great Master says:
The Master is waiting inside for his pupils to come in and partake of his grace and love. It is our fault that we do not reach his ‘feet’ in the astral plane, above the eyes.
So it is entirely up to us if we wish to go within. This emphasizes that the first and foremost duty in our lives is to attend to our meditation. With concentrated meditation in its prioritized place in our lives, we will be opening up every possible channel to welcome and nurture the principles of love in our daily living. As the author of Living Meditation says: ‘We need to realize that every time we sit for meditation, we are doing the most important thing a human being can do.’