The Mystical Nature of Love
by George Arnsby Jones, Litt.D., Ph.D.
The True Nature of Love cannot be adequately described in human language, for its inmost depths lie far beyond the scope of words. In the world scriptures, Love has been used as a synonymous term for God. And God and Love are eternal, as Shamas-i-Tabrez, a Muslim Saint, has pointed out:
Islam and unbelief are of recent origin, but Love and God existed even before the creation of this world.
Therefore, if any person becomes a victim of Love,
you should not call him an unbeliever.
Thus it is impossible to confine the concept of Love to the human and temporal levels, and many so-called heretics and lovers of God have been condemned as ‘unbelievers’ because of their universal and all-embracing approach to the Supreme Lord of Love. Shamas-i-Tabrez Himself was flayed alive because He refused to accept the validity of outward forms of worship.
As it is impossible to confine Love to the temporal levels of life, so it is impossible to confine the concept of the grandeur of God as Love to mortal dimensions.
Maulana Rumi, the Persian Poet-Saint and disciple of Shamas-i-Tabrez, has written:
Different from all other diseases is the disease of the lover; for Love is the key to the secrets of God.
People may misunderstand the Inner Nature of Love, for few have experienced the higher transports of mystical Love, but the Spiritual Heights of Love have been attained by those who are the True Lovers of God and His entire creation. Christ went to the Cross with Love in His heart for all mankind; Shamas-i-Tabrez blessed His torturers; and Guru Arjan, fifth Guru of the Sikhs, when forced by His tormentors to sit on red-hot iron plates, gently informed them:
God’s will is sweet.
These things can only be truly comprehended by those who love in the Highest Sense. True Love enfolds within itself the concept of self-surrender, the surrendering of one’s life to the way of Love. Much has been written about Love, but the Highest Form of Love must be lived to be experienced and known. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Krishna exhorts Arjuna:
Give me your whole heart; love curd adore me; worship me always; bow to me only; and you shall find me; this is my promise, who loves you dearly.
And again Lord Krishna reiterates:
To love is to know me, my innermost nature, the truth that I am: through this knowledge he enters at once into my being.
He gives me all his heart, and worships me in faith and love; that yogi above every other, I call my very own.
Love is the sublime experience of the heart, for where True Love dwells there is sanctity, and the lover knows compassion for all life.
Tulsi Sahib, a great nineteenth century Poet-Saint of India. wrote in His ‘Ghat Ramayanu’:
Show love to all creatures, and you will be happy; for when you love all things, you love the Lord, for He is in all.
Such Love as this cannot be affected by the vicissitudes of life, for it raises the Lover to a plane of Eternal Peace and Joy.
In the Bible (1 St John 2:10) it is recorded:
He that loveth his brother abideth in the Light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
Love is the regenerative force of mankind, and even animals, birds, plants and flowers can be influenced by the transforming power of Love.
Love is the physician for the ailments of the human soul, and there is also no doubt that most physical ills may be hastened in their cure by the presence of Love.
Oh! the intoxication of my Love, be happy, well and strong,
sang Maulana Rumi;
for You are the only physician and care for all my ailments.
The pain caused by the soul’s separation from its conscious awareness of Divine Reality may be eased by loving devotion to the Supreme Lord. In this way the soul becomes aware of its True Divine Sonship, as proclaimed in 1 St John 3:1:
Behold, what manner of Love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God.
Life is an arid desert without the experience of the redemptive power of Love, for Love is life’s richest gift in all the treasurehouse of the cosmic universe. There is truly nothing in life without Love, for Love transforms the poorest peasant into a Spiritual Billionaire. Hafiz, another Great Persian Poet-Saint, has written:
On the Path of Love, there is no difference between the rich and the the poor. Oh beauteous King! say a word to this beggar. I am a great sinner, but look not at my sins. In royal manner, speak to this sinful beggar.
Love is the crown of all human experience, and he who does not love is unworthy of the designation of ‘human being.’ Kabir, one of India’s Greatest Mystic Adepts and her Greatest Poet, said that
a person in whom there is no Love should be considered as a moving statue. He is like the bellows of a blacksmith, which breathes and yet has no life.
Guru Arjan also expressed similar sentiments:
A man may be extremely handsome, clever, learned and wealthy, and may have in him many other good qualities, but if he has not developed the Love of God in Himself, he should be considered the same as a corpse.
The universe is a place of awe-inspiring beauty, and the mind of man is naturally inclined to plumb the wonders of its creation; but this outer universe is the physical robe of the Supreme One, who is all Love. God has upheld His creation with the Power of Love, and the very being of man is infused with this power.
Love redeems the sinner, as the Bhagavad Gita testifies:
Though a man be soiled with the sins of a lifetime, let him but love me, rightly resolved, in utter devotion: I see no sinner, that man is holy.
1 St John 4:8 states:
He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is Love.
The secret of God’s mysteries is Love,
said Maulana Rumi; and all the major scriptures of the world inform us that man is created in the image of God. But this image is not the physical image; it is that subtle Power of Love that is the True Being of God. And when man loses awareness of his own True Image as a King of Love, then he assuredly loses his innate humanity.
Where there is True Love there is the life more abundant spoken of by Christ. And this abundant life is the evocation of the Power of Love in the heart of man. The hidden image of God as the spirit of Love dwells within each and every human being. When our Inner Eye is opened, we can see all beings as manifestations of God’s Love.
The current of Love from the One God is flowing through the entire universe,
stated Maulana Rumi.
What do you think when you look at the face of a man? Look at him carefully. He is not a man, but a current of the essence of God, which permeates him.
True Love embraces all creation; there can be no exceptions.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.
St Matthew 5:43-44
The same statement is made in 1 St John 4:19-20:
If a man say I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God Whom he hath not seen?
And so, differences of race and colour, class and creed, caste and country, have no meaning for those who have become imbued with Love. When we understand the Unity of Creation in God’s Love, how can we then hate anyone or anything?
The Way of Love does not lie in the performance of outer observances and rituals. Religious bickering and sectarian strife are due to man’s intolerance and bigotry and are not a reflection of certain knowledge of God on the part of this or that religious movement. Similarly, the confining of one’s devotion to one country or community, one narrow ideal or ethic, is not the mark of a True Lover.
What is the value of recitations, austerities, continence, self-discipline, fasting and holy baths, as long as we do not know the way of loving devotion to the Lord?
All is holy where devotion kneels,
wrote Oliver Wendell Holmes; and he who places the ideal of Universal Love above all else is one who truly follows the basic commandment of the Supreme Lord. This fact is endorsed by the world scriptures.
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,
St Matthew 22: 37
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
St Matthew 22:39
And St Paul exhorted:
Do good unto all men.
He who does not adhere to this law of Love is ensnared in the miseries of the world. He cannot inspire others to greater Love and service, because he himself is bound by the chains of despair, even if he possesses great worldly wealth.
In 1 St John 2:15 it is recorded:
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the Love of the Father is not in him.
Mankind desperately seeks True Joy and Happiness; and these qualities are the Spiritual Birthright of man. However, if the mind of man is constantly engaged in seeking satisfaction in the transient attractions of the world, man himself will find no lasting happiness. Joy is the fruit of the mind’s concentration on the higher attributes of Love, the fruit of the soul.
Love cannot be concealed once it has entered a person’s heart,
He does not speak it out, but his eyes reveal it. Once love enters a man’s heart, it keeps him happy at all times, for he then becomes free from worries, and the currents of Love flow out from him naturally and continuously.
Without Love, everything in the world is despicable, and wars and bloodshed result from a dearth of Love’s power. Love is complete in itself, and is a powerhouse of Inner Strength, faith and fortitude. Love is the transmitter of serenity and peace to the human mind and to all life; and it is also an antenna that attracts currents of Love from other lovers to itself.
There is such an abundance of Love-intoxication within me,
that a bread prepared from the wheat grown on a field fertilised by my body would intoxicate the breadmaker with the Love of God. But I cannot describe the state of the person who would eat that bread. Even the person who sets the table for such a bread would become intoxicated, and the oven in which the bread was baked would dance with ecstasy from this intoxication. The radiance of Love is the Light of God.
Love begets Love and charges the psychic atmosphere of the world with vibrations of joy and bliss.
Guru Nanak, the first Guru of the Sikhs, was once offered a narcotic by King Babar.
said Nanak, declining the offer,
the intoxication of this narcotic, if taken in the morning, will vanish by the coming of evening. But the intoxication of the Supreme Lord continues forever.
The soul thus ascends to its True Spiritual Home on the upward Path of Love, for the aspirant reaches a point where he is no longer a prey to inordinate desires. He will hold all his actions at that point of focus which is True Detachment, claiming no possessions whatsoever. But having Love, he will possess all things.
Such detachment on the Path of Love is not a life of asceticism or indifference to the rest of creation. To realise the Unity of all life is to find a new bond between oneself and all created things, and the essence of this bond is Love. Such a lover of all creation will automatically enrich mankind spiritually as he enriches his own Inner Experience, without the need of exploiting any individual or sectional interest. There is no monopoly on the Path of Love; every living being can claim his rightful share of the Spiritual Riches given by the Supreme One. The way of pilgrimage on the Path of Love is not one of outer evasion or escapism, but a way of Inner Freedom.
Guru Nanak has written:
Let contentment be your earrings, and endeavour for the Divine and respect for the Higher Self be your wallet, and constant meditation on Him be your ashes. Let preparedness-for-death be your cloak, and let your body be like unto a chaste virgin. Let your Master’s teachings be your supporting staff. The highest religion1 is to rise to Universal Brotherhood,2 aye, to consider all creatures your equals. […]
Stanza 28, Jap Ji
In his magnificent ‘Paradise Lost,’ Book VIII, John Milton has written:
[…] Love refines the thoughts, and heart enlarges, hath his seat in reason, and is judicious is the scale by which to heav’nly Love thou maist ascend, not sunk in carnal pleasure, for which cause among the beasts no mate for thee was found […]
And later, in the same poem:
[…] for Love thou saist leads up to Heav’n, is both the way and guide […]
In the novel ‘War and Peace,’ Book II, the remarkable Russian author Leo Tolstoy projects his own thoughts on Divine Love through the character of Prince Andrew:
When loving with human love one may pass from love to hatred, but Divine Love cannot change. No, neither death nor anything else can destroy it. It is the very essence of the soul […]
Love directed solely to earthly things produces spiritual darkness; love directed solely towards God brings Spiritual Illumination.
Dante, in Canto XV of the Purgatory section of his ‘Divine Comedy,’ has written:
Because thou fastenest thy mind only on earthly things, thou gatherest darkness from the very Light. That infinite and ineffable good which is on high, runs to Love even as a sunbeam comes to a lucid body. So much it gives itself as it finds of ardour; so that how far soever charity extends, over it does the Eternal Valour spread. And the more the people who set their hearts on high the more there are for loving well, and the more Love there is, and like a mirror one reflects to the other.
The True Lover is ever willing to lay down his life for his Beloved, for Love knows service and sacrifice. Indeed, the lover knows that there is truly no death for one who treads the upward Path of Love.
Oh man, you have died a number of times, but have remained covered with veils,
said Maulana Rumi,
for you have failed to realise the secret of real death.
And Kabir has affirmed:
The whole world keeps dying after death, for no one dies the real death. I have died a death that will make me never die again. So long as you do not know how to die while living, you will not gain freedom from the cycle of birth and death.
To die whilst yet living is to take the inward Path of Love through daily meditation. This ‘death’ is the prerequisite of Spiritual Rebirth, for as it is written in St John 3:3:
Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.
The True Lover knows no intellectual wrangling or semantic dissertating on whether he should do this thing or that thing. His life is an Eternal Song of Love; his daily actions are an endless story of Love, and God resides in his heart as the very form of Love. The possessions of the world are of relative unimportance to him. If he has wealth, knowledge, power, creativeness and strength, he uses these gifts as a trustee, and applies them in service to God and to his fellow beings. Without Love, the ownership of worldly possessions can prove a pitfall to the aspirant on the mystical path. Affluence may become a pathway to spiritual pride; devotion to beautiful objects may become a pathway to spiritual blindness; temporal power may become a pathway to cruelty and arrogance; knowledge may become a pathway to egotism; love of outer observances and flamboyant rites may become a pathway to religious intolerance and bigotry. But the gift of Love can transform all these lesser gifts into instruments of Divine Will, and they then become of benefit to all beings, for they are now tempered with the joyful sweetness of Spirituality. God is Love, and He is the only bestower of the gifts of life and Love. The Supreme Lord asks for nothing in return for His gifts, and the True Lover also imparts his loving service freely. There can be no selfishness in True Love, for a lover gives freely of his Love without any ulterior motive. The laws of mankind have arisen from man’s lack of Love; if all mankind lived in accordance with the supreme law of Love, there would be no need for worldly laws. Through this lack of Love, man is ensnared in a cruel web of wars and destruction. With the global operation of the law of Love there would come into being that state of which Christ spoke:
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
St Matthew 6:10
This simply means a planetary externalisation of the Love that has blossomed in the hearts of all mankind. Within such a realm of Love, no outer law would be necessary; but we are engrossed in thoughts of hatred against others, and we look about us and see that Love is not king in this present world. Only injustice and destruction reign.
Where there is Love there can be no injustice or inhumanity. If we plan a new society with thoughts of Love, expounding the rich blessings of Love, we would surely bring the kingdom of Love into physical expression. The aged and ailing St John was carried on a stretcher before a congregation of adults and children. In a feeble voice he said.
Love ye one another!
and repented this injunction two more times. Then he was silent.
Do you have nothing more to tell these children?
complained the adults who were closest to the old mystic.
Love is the greatest need of men,
and therefore I give this advice again and again. Love, and all things will be added unto you.
Love is the beginning and end of all wisdom. Without goodness in his heart a person cannot truly love. Love removes the negative qualities of anger, hatred, avarice, slander and so on from the mind.
Guru Ram Das, the fourth Guru of the Sikhs, stated:
Those in this world who have Love for the Lord, possess real knowledge; and if by chance they utter my harsh words, they do not hurt anybody because they do not forget the spirit of Love and therefore love everybody. They are the chosen ones of God.
Where Love is chief there can be no other rulers, for Love is the essence of the soul and is immanent in all human beings. But we have become so attached to outer objects and pleasures that we have lost consciousness of this inherent Spiritual Power of Love. When we rise above the grime and murk of earthly attachments, True Love makes its luminous appearance.
The wine shop where this intoxication of Love can be obtained may only be approached by those who have one motive in their minds; whose hearts, minds and even tongues are dyed in the hue of their Beloved,
It is not possible for selfish persons or worldly people to enter the lane leading to the reservoir of the wine of Love for the Lord.
Love is all beauty and its expression is reflected in the face of the lover.
Farid ud-Din Attar, a Sufi Mystic and one of the greatest mystic poets of Persia, wrote:
I am not afraid of losing my youth, provided my Love for God does not diminish; for many a youth has withered away for lack of Love for God.
And Kabir has said:
My Beloved is in my eyes like a thin coating of collyrium. How can there be any place for sleep in my eyes when He is there all the twenty-four hours and there is no other work except to remember Him? The true and faithful wife is she who does not keep her husband away from her eyes even for a single moment and does not look at any other person. She closes her eyes and is plunged deep into his remembrance. And in the remembrance of Love, she blossoms like a rose and speaks only of the sweetness of Love.
Every Mystic Adept in every age has professed that the kingdom of Love is the highest of all realms. And this realm transcends the planes of mind and matter.
Baha Ullah, founder of the religion of Bahaism, urged his devotees:
Kindle the fire of Love and burn all things. Then set thy foot unto the land of the lovers.
Swami Ji – Radha Swami Dayal –, a Supreme Mystic Adept of the nineteenth century, was asked to describe the Highest Realm of Spirituality.
It is All-Love,
He replied simply.
The True Lovers of the Supreme Lord know of this realm; and it is life’s Greatest Blessing to be admitted into the Inner Circle of such a Lover.
take me into the circle of Your lovers, for this madness of Love for You is far better than the cleverness of the outside world. The lives of thousands of intellectual persons are not worth a moment of this madness. If the senses were to know how much bliss is in store for the heart that achieves this state of madness, then people now following the lure of the senses would become mad after this Divine Love.
A True Lover will never cheat or deprive others through his business or profession. He will support himself honestly and frugally. He will radiate Love in his everyday affairs, for he will know that even the most worldly people may be stirred by Love, for Love is inherent in all. A Holy Man’s life will resound as a passionate message of Love. A Mystic Adept, Who is Love incarnate, may be of the type who writes no books, builds no temples, creates no cults or religions; but because He radiates an all-embracing Love, all mankind will eventually respond to His Spiritual Message.
1 St John 3:3 states:
Behold, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him us He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.
We must learn Love, or else we fail to affirm our basic nature as Spiritual Beings. Love fulfils the law of life itself. If we perform just one selfless act of Love, we truly perform many such acts without conscious realisation of this loving proliferation of kindliness. There are many allegedly religious people who profess Love of God and yet are prepared to foster hatred against one another. Such people who entertain hatred for others cannot be considered devotees of the Supreme Lord, for they have not even learned how to become human beings.
It has been said that love is blind. But a lover of the Supreme Lord is not blind, for his inward sight has seen the very Truth of all creation. It is impossible to describe the all-encompassing Glory of Love. Human language can only conceal more than it reveals in this regard. The True Lover finds the rapture of Love so exquisite that he is enamoured of its power for all Eternity. Such Love draws all beings into the orbit of its all-embracing harmony and benign power.
Footnotes: 1) Aa-ee Panthi: it is the highest sect of the yogins. 2) Sagal Jamati: Classless class or class with no distinction between student and student, with boys from all sects and of all denominations, associating together in love and goodwill, and sitting together at the feet of one Master. [These footnotes were taken by the Editor, 2011, from the original version of the ‘Jap Ji’, edited by Kirpal Singh. They are not part of the original issue of Sat Sandesh / September 1971.]