Love in Action
Whenever Hazur Maharaj Charan Singh was asked for any special message, he often quoted Jesus Christ’s message to love one another. Hazur spent nearly forty years of his life advocating love. He was the perfect living example of love and he practised it always. Like all Masters, he also emphasized the importance of love in the sangat, within a family unit, in all relationships between people and in whatever we do in life. And he made it clear that the central pillar of spirituality is love.
So what is this love that the Masters refer to? We have all said “I love you” to someone at some stage in our lifetime. What do we mean by these words? It is difficult to adequately describe love in words. It has to be experienced, and even then only a lover can really understand what love is.
The love that a mother has for her child cannot be expressed in words. At best she can say, “I love this child,” but that means very little to another person. Only a mother can truly know what it is – as her love is beyond words, beyond definitions and explanations. We cannot teach someone to love, neither can we control love in any way. Love has to be experienced to be known. Only once we have experienced it at some stage in our life do we have an idea of what it is.
The word ‘love’ is used in so many contexts, for both animate and inanimate objects. We all speak of love in relation to people and things. One can say: “I love my mother” or “I love chocolates” or “I love my pet” or “I love my Master.” It is used to describe one’s likes, preferences, emotional feelings or attachments. It is often based on our needs and expectations, which makes love conditional, whereas true love is unconditional and unselfish.
Of all the kinds of love that exist between people, the love of a mother for her little child is perhaps the purest form to be found in human relationships. Most other forms of love are dependent on having the expectations of the lover met. On the path of the saints we are also interested in the meaning of love in the spiritual context, as when one says that “God is love.”
Can the same single word ‘love’ have so many meanings and applications? If love in a worldly sense is so difficult to describe, then one can imagine how impossible it is to describe it in a spiritual sense. Again, unless we experience it for ourselves, it is just an intellectual description of something we can perhaps look forward to experiencing some day.
Much has been written on the subject of love, and many mystics have tried to give us a preview of what spiritual love is. All our talking, reading and philosophizing about love will not in itself lead us to love. At best these may act as a catalyst to set us on the path of practising love.
We read in The Book of Mirdad:
Love is the Law of God. You live that you may learn to love. You love that you may learn to live. No other lesson is required of Man. And what is it to love but for the lover to absorb forever the beloved so that the twain be one?
What does this mean? A law is something that governs or provides the rules by which things are governed, for example, the law of gravity. Therefore love is a power by which the Creator governs the creation. It is the power that ensures that the creation functions the way it should – by God’s design. This is achieved by the presence of that power in everything, hence the omnipresence of the power of God. Therefore divine love is the omnipresent power of God.
And when Mirdad says you live that you may learn to love, he means that the very purpose of living is to learn to love. There is no other purpose. If we do not learn to love while living, then our life has been wasted. And when Mirdad says you love that you may learn to live, he means that once we have learnt to love, then we have learnt how to live eternally – how to live beyond the physical realm and how to live after death.
So we live here in this body to learn how to love so that we can live eternally hereafter. No other lesson is required, Mirdad says. All the knowledge we gain is useless, as we will not take it with us when we die. But the lesson of love will go with us even when we die, and it is therefore the only lesson worth learning. Mirdad’s description of love is exactly what the Masters have been telling us. It is when the lover becomes absorbed in the beloved in such a manner that the lover and the beloved become one.
Hazur often said that love is losing one’s own identity and merging into another being. We cease to exist and only the beloved exists. This of course only happens when our ego ceases to exist and we become nothing. By becoming nothing, we eliminate the self and merge into the beloved and become the beloved. Paradoxically we have to become nothing to become everything!
The Master tells us that because we function at this physical level and have experience of love only at the physical level, we have to start the journey of spiritual love by first developing love for the physical Master. As we grow and develop spiritually, our love for the body Master also grows, develops and eventually migrates beyond the physical to the spiritual level.
So how does one develop love for the Master and turn that devotion to the Shabd within? We know that God is love and the soul is of the same essence as God. So we need to allow the soul to manifest that love by releasing the soul from the bondage of the mind, senses, desires and passions. This is like removing the rust from the knife to let it shine.
The Masters teach us a technique of meditation that gradually brings the desires, passions and senses under the control of the mind, and the mind under the control of the soul. Since creation began all true Masters have taught this technique – the true way to worship the Lord. True worship of the Lord leads to discovering the soul or self-realization, which in turn leads us to God-realization. So if we are sincere in our devotion to the Lord, our true form of worship will be through meditation.
We are all struggling souls, trying to make a success of travelling this path. The fact that we have commenced the journey does not make us saints. The reason we follow this path is because we realize our imperfections and we are trying to improve.
Mirdad also says: “Love is not a virtue. Love is a necessity, more so than bread and water, more so than light and air”. We are taught that air, light, water and food are essential for survival – but only for the body. What about food for the soul? Well, the food for the soul is love – love is a necessity for the soul.
The way to feed the soul is through meditation. Just as we have regular meals to feed the body, we have to feed the soul daily with our meditation. If we want to worship the Lord, let us heed the advice of the lovers of God and practise the true form of worship by daily meditation with love and devotion – within the true temple of the living God, our very own body.
We have all heard of the expression “love in action”. For seekers who are initiated by a true Master, there is only one form of this love: sitting in meditation with one’s full attention focused at the eye centre, repeating the holy names with one-pointed concentration. That is love in action.