Methods of developing Love

Masters have described the methods by which love can be awakened. These methods are known to them by their own inner experience, and to follow their instructions is known as spiritual practice. The method of the Masters is the concentrated essence of the various moral and religious practices that are prevalent in the world – such as going to temples and mosques or other religious places, reading of scriptures, prayers, worship, charity, pilgrimages, and so forth. These are all outward observances. Austerity, contemplation, and other practices, are good for cleansing the mind and senses. They are all included in religious ceremonies and act as an incentive to the soul, because out of their sincere practice. Love for the Lord can be awakened.

Just as a nurse feds a child on milk and is responsible for his growth and well-being, similarly these observances are helpful to seekers in their progress towards a spiritual life. The real spiritual practice works as a mother to the soul. It must be remembered that it is only a mother who gives birth to the child, and the milk is produced in her breasts. A nurse is helpful only in external care. To give birth to a child is the function of a mother.

Similarly, of themselves ritual, ceremonies, religions, scriptures, etc., cannot create true love. All these austerities and prayers can be given up where there is love. 

In spirituality, it is only the Saints or the Masters who are the bestowers of Spiritual Birth to a person.

A Master makes the devotee follow methods which He Himself has experienced within. He guides the seeker in this internal practice and, like a mother, helps in the spiritual growth of the child of love, by making him drink the Divine Elixir. Then the devotee realizes the Truth.

All rituals and ceremonies by which the fire of love can be kindled are good, because in that fire all desires and temptations are burned. 

Guru Ram Das says.

Actions such as austerities, fasting and worship are good only if they aid in awakening one’s love for God.

Bulleh Shah expresses the same thought in the following beautiful words:

Religious customs are our nurse; rituals and ceremonies are our mother; but if we wish to achieve something really worthwhile, that can be done only by spiritual practice (inner method). Then alone do we realize the real Truth.

The aim of all rituals was the same in the beginning, but with the laps of time and by not following them sincerely they have all become superficial and nominal observance. Thus, the very rituals which were intended to bring us salvation have become our ties.

Love is to be found in its original form in every human being. God is Love and the soul is a path of Him; therefore, the soul is also Love. But because the soul is concealed under the coverings of the mind, love is also concealed along with it. It is necessary that we remove the covering. This can be explained by an example:

Electricity is present in everything, but it is in a latent form. When we produce it by means of a battery, its currents can be radiated for thousands of miles. Similarly, Divine Love is a big electric current. We can call it human electricity, but this electricity is a thousand times more powerful and bright. When it is produced, it destroys all dirt and unclean ideas rising in one’s mind. Then the soul shines forth in its inherent brightness. In other words, the path which may have taken hundreds of years to attain by other methods is covered in the twinkling of an eye by means of love.

Love is inherent in every person and it may be kindled in two ways. One is by the Grace of the Lord or that of His manifestation in this world, namely a Master. The other method is by means of spiritual practice.

Just as electricity exists in every particle, in a latent state, but it is produced with the help of a battery and brightens a large area, similarly the spark of love is produced in the heart of a seeker by the Grace of God or a Master and this force then becomes apparent.

The second method, that of spiritual discipline, such as repetition (Simran), contemplation and listening to the Sound Current, also produces this powerful electric current of love in human beings.

  1. In actual practice, the first essential is to awaken love for God by means of repetition and then by contemplation. As we repeat the Five Holy Names with the tongue of thougt, our Attraction and Love for Him increase within ourselves. When a lover remembers Him and becomes fully absorbed in His remembrance, then God turns the lover’s attention towards devotion by His divine Grace.

  2. Dhyan is the second spiritual practice. At it’s beginning, with the help of repetition of Charged Names the sensory currents withdraw from the body below to the eye-focus; that leads to the perception of the Inner Light. Then starts the second phase of Dhyan – the Contemplation. It can be attained by absorbing ones attention into the Inner Divine Light so much so that one forget oneself completely. Dhyan leads to Bhajan.1

  3. The third part of the spiritual practice is Bhajan, listening to the Shabd, Naam or Sound Current. God is Shabd, and God is also Love. Therefore, Naam or Shabd is Love. As the soul contacts Shabd, Love flows out from within.

Guru Nanak says:

The love and attachment by which one merges into the Truth is not possible without Naam.

Guru Arjan says:

Love is Naam, with which the attachment to physical attractions is destroyed.

Guru Amar Das says:

Devotees of the Shabd practice receive honour in the Court of the Lord. Love for God is awakened in them, and by it they are forcefully attracted towards God.

A Gurumukh achieves love by means of contemplation on God. By the adornment of Shabd his ego is destroyed.

Adi Granth

The principal way towards the achievement of Love is the Satsang and company of a Perfect Master, and through His Grace.

Guru Arjan says:

Only those who have the Grace of the Lord on them are attracted to spiritual practice. But love for the Lord is produced in them by the company of Saints and by listening to Their Satsang. It is only by the teachings of Saints that love for a perfect Master is produced in us and our love is fixed at His Lotus Feet. Without a Master, love cannot be produced and the dirt of egotism is not destroyed. He puts us on the path of Shabd. When we listen to it we ‘know ourselves’ and attain Sohang (I and my father are One).

Guru Arjan

Oh Brother! Without a Master, love cannot be awakened. One who follows the dictates of his mind cannot get it. He may perform all kinds of religious acts, but they will be without rewards.

Adi Granth

It was through the pure Grace of the Perfect Master that my love was fixed at His Lotus Feet.

Adi Granth

Guru Arjan says:

One cannot achieve Love without a Master. You should bear it in mind, that God is Love, and He is manifested in the Master, and it is the Master who enables one to meet the Lord.

One cannot be truly devoted without a Master, nor can one attach oneself to Shabd. We can practise Naam through intense love for our Master. And true love which never perishes can be achieved only through a Perfect Master.

Devotion is not possible without a Master. Love for Naam is also not possible. Oh Nanak! I can practise Naam only by the Grace of my Master’s love.

Adi Granth

True love can be produced by loving a perfect Master, because, oh Nanak! This never perishes, and we sing of the glory of the Lord.

Adi Granth

Shamas-i-Tabriz says:

The Master felt my pulse when I was already exhausted through religious practices. He said, ‘Alas! Whatever austerities and worship you have done are all useless. The aim of the lovers of God is neither to gain learning nor to gather treasures of the intellect, nor to have any connection with gains and losses of the world.’ After saying this, He gazed into my eyes, and the gaze of my Master effaced my very being. Then He said, ‘Go and drink that wine which is full of the intoxication of bliss and spend the remaining years of your life in that happiness. You should now leave all outward rituals and entanglements.

Just as God has already put electricity in the clouds and other things, in a latent form, but various actions are needed to produce it in its dynamic form, similarly love is in every soul in a latent form, because God is Love and we are a particle of Him.

One way by which love is created is that the Master or God Himself awakens love in a soul and intoxicates the soul with the ecstasy of love. Secondly, by following spiritual practices the hue of love imparts its colour to a lover. But both of these ways are possible only through the abundant Grace of the Master, by which alone all obstacles are removed and a desire is produced in the heart of the seeker to go from one spiritual region to the next.

Guru Arjan says:

Religious preachers and religions are both unaware of Love. The whole world behaves like a fool. People have forgotten God and are heading for hell.

Shamas-i-Tabrez says:

Atheists and all religious preachers, religions and the followers of the world’s many faiths are bereft of this treasure in their heart.


Footnote: 1) The Text of point 2. is extracted from "Spiritual Elixir, Part I, Chapter II: Meditation" and "The Crown of Life, Part II, Chapter Five, The Cornerstones" (both by Kirpal Singh) and partially modified corresponding to the context, because the text of the source serving as basis for this edition was falsified at this point.