Love for the Spiritual and Love for the Physical

Love is of two kinds.

One is physical and man-made and the other is natural or divine. Physical love is the love of worldly people who are continually tied to the world and its objects.

Divine love is that of the devotee of the Lord, and it establishes a permanent connection with God.

The satisfaction of sensual desires is not a man’s goal in life. These pleasures, besides pulling him down, have no permanence in them whatsoever. The real object of life is to connect the soul with the unchangeable Lord and thus be united with Him forever in eternal bliss.

Some people dislike the physical type of love, and others call it the first step towards spiritual love. There is a downward tendency in the expression of physical love, by which the lower senses are excited. In spiritual love, the senses are all under perfect control.

The expression of love that is produced as a result of physical attraction is not the true form of love. Rather, it is the cause of one’s fall in the eyes of God. Extremely rare is the case of a person who can attain spiritual love through physical love.

Some of the Muslim Saints, however, considered it necessary to attain spiritual love through physical love. They considered physical love as the first step towards spiritual love. Their contention was that, just as a staircase or a ladder is necessary in order to ascend a high wall, similarly to ascend the heights of spiritual love, one had first to experience the „ladder“ of physical love. But this is necessary only for gaining concentration through contemplation. Once such concentration has been achieved, one should immediately try to develop only spiritual love because the other method is beset with risks and obstacles.

Those who attempt to ascend to spiritual love by means of physical love usually remain at a standstill in the condition of physical love, which is nothing but an animal instinct. They cannot make spiritual progress.

Maulana Jami says:

The physical love is like a bridge, and a bridge is meant only to cross the river and not to live on. Those who stay on the bridge do not achieve any progress in their endeavour to meet the Lord.

Saint Bernard says:

Love begins in the flesh and ends in the spirit.

The outer love should never be considered more than the first step towards the divine love. Both types of love are good, provided there is no motive of gratification of the senses. Love should be for the sake of love alone. The foundation of True Love contains no trace of selfish aims or desires. Like God’s love for us, our love should also be expressed and offered to Him without any selfish motive or desire for reward.

Selfish love is called attachment, and is merely a physical emotion. When love is imprisoned within the limitations of low, narrow and selfish qualities, the result is pain and misery. This selfish love is advocated by some lecturers and leaders who have only their own personal gain in view. Their lectures do not deal with the real love, which is for God and His entire creation – whether Hindu, Muslim or Christian, and of any caste, creed or nationality.

Look at the state of adoration and self-abnegation of Manu! He ran after his beloved Laila like a madman. Even if he saw her footprint, he would consider it a sin to pass by it without first bending his forehead to touch the footprint with it in homage. It is written that once he was seen kissing the feet of a dog, and when asked the reason why, he said:

This dog sometimes walks in the vicinity of Laila’s residence.

Manu’s love for Laila was so deeply imbedded in his heart that he had no room for anything else.

Manu, however, remained at a standstill in physical love for Laila. Love for the physical form (which itself is not eternal) is only the play of lustful desires. Worldly love is usually of this nature. The only lasting and True Love is for God, and is not confined to worldly forms. Worldly love keeps one away from Him.

After Laila’s death, Manu realized the Truth. He said that his mad love for Laila caused him to feel ashamed. He regretted having showered all his love on a mortal being, for he then realized that the best friend is the One with whom we can be united forever.

Give your heart to the Being who is eternal. Why attach yourself to one who is subject to death and decay?

Saints have therefore taught us to avoid the expression of physical love and have directed us to love our Satguru (Shabd-Form) instead of loving worldly forms, for the Masters are free from all worldly dross, and love for them will not entangle us in the ties of this world. And love for the Master is necessary, because his love reminds us of God. Such a state has been described by the Saints as merging oneself into the Satguru. As the Satguru himself is merged in the Lord, one who merges himself into the Satguru automatically achieves the next step, which is to merge oneself into the Lord. Thus one attains God-Realization.

A love that is produced as the result of action, qualities or personal influence is all worldly love. True Love is a living force.

Shamas-i-Tabrez says:

How long will you keep the dead beloved in your embrace? Why not take hold of the soul, for it will never die!

The True Lover and the Beloved exist forever. You should not give your heart to flesh and bones, for they are perishable and will one day decay. To give one’s heart to a destructible thing is to kill oneself. The physical type of love only succeeds in confusing the lover, moves him farther away from divinity, and prevents him from crossing the ocean of death.

Therefore, turn your mind away from the worldly love for your children, for your wife, for your wealth and treasures, for your sovereignty and fame. These are all ephemeral. Instead, we should turn our faces toward the Lord through His manifestation on earth, the Satguru.

Muslim Scriptures state that to die in love for the Lord is the Real sacrifice. This means that whoever has died in such love has died a Real death. The world is a dead thing and those who hanker after it are no better than dogs. Since this world is transitory and man is at the top of creation, it is improper for a human being to stoop to the worldly type of love.

There is no contentment in worldly love, whereas in love for God there is complete tranquillity.

Hafiz says:

What is the use of giving your love to a person who does not respond? The fault lies in the fact that there is not enough intensity of longing, although the healer of this pain of longing is always there.

We should learn the lesson of sacrifice from the moth which never wavers even though it is burnt to death by the flame by which it is attracted.

Again, Hafiz says:

It is certain that so long as one is not prepared to sacrifice his life on the Path of Love, he cannot reach the Beloved.