Love Is a Verb
I heard it said once that love is a verb – something you do. That certainly applies to our spiritual practice. We may not have much say about whether we are feeling loving at any given time, but we can always choose to practise love.
A question in Die to Live addresses this:
I think it’s possible to be loving or to act loving without feeling loving. And sometimes I’m not sure where it’s coming from, whether it’s a real loving feeling or not.
Maharaj Charan Singh answers:
At least behave in a loving way, and then you may also feel the love within. If you try to develop the habit of acting lovingly, then you may also begin to have a genuine loving feeling for others. At least start by behaving like that.
Let’s take a couple of mundane examples. Perhaps a husband and wife have an arrangement where she cooks and he cleans up the kitchen. Now some nights, he probably doesn’t feel like cleaning. He may not be feeling any love for his wife in that moment, and yet he can choose to take the loving action to clean the kitchen anyway. Similarly, some nights she probably doesn’t feel like cooking. She may not even be hungry herself. Yet she can choose to take the loving action of fixing the meal.
Some mornings we don’t feel like meditating. We may not be feeling any love for the Master. But we get up and meditate anyway. That is an act of devotion, a loving act.
On the other hand, suppose the husband comes home and his wife is feeling a lot of love for him. She is acting very loving and telling him how much she loves him. After a while of enjoying this he asks her, “Where’s dinner?” She says, “Oh, I didn’t make dinner. I just couldn’t today.” Or maybe, “I was in the kitchen for two and one half hours, but I fell asleep.” Or, “I was in the kitchen, but I was talking on the phone the whole time. I had a lot to say.”
We may feel loving toward the Master, but what will we tell him when he asks, “Where’s the meditation?” Just having loving feelings toward the Master and not taking loving action is not what he wants. That’s not devotion. We need to let our actions reflect our love. We need to make the loving effort.
The Great Master, Maharaj Sawan Singh, wrote that a primary factor in success in controlling the mind and senses is the effort of the disciple. We don’t need heroic effort, but that effort does need to be continual and relentless. It will build in intensity as we become more devoted. We have no idea how much effort our spiritual journey will take. But the rewards are unimaginable. As Great Master says:
But those of you who remain faithful and go on working to the best of your ability must one day realize how great is the work you have done and how great is the reward which awaits you.
In answering questions about how hard the path could be, the Master often repeated what may have been one of the greatest understatements of all time when he answered – it is worth the effort. The Great Master sums it up in Spiritual Gems: “When this is the only way, and we are to go this way, then why not go now?”