Love and Devotion
Rabia was once asked, “Do you actually see the Lord whom you worship?” “I would not worship him,” she replied, “unless I saw him.”
We have often been told that the Lord is worthy of our devotion, our love, our admiration and loyalty. But how can we love someone we have never seen? How can we admire someone we do not even know?
Conceptually, we are told that he is our Supreme Father, that he provides everything for us and that he sustains us, and yes, somewhere deep down in our hearts we do have faith that a higher power is there watching over us. But is this enough ground on which one can build a relationship of love, reverence and esteem?
Intellectual love is all right. Emotional love, which is influenced by other people, is all right. Any type of love is all right, but nothing can surpass the love of your own experience; and for that experience, meditation is necessary. You can build love and devotion only through meditation, not otherwise. Meditation builds everlasting love, and that is building on a rock, and not on sand.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Die to Live
It is only when we still the mind at the eye centre and tune it into that power that is reverberating and glowing within us that we will begin to know the Lord. When we are asked to devote ourselves to the Lord, to worship him or sing his praises, the first thing that comes to mind is an assortment of adjectives to flatter him. However, in order to worship him, we need to experience him; in order to sing his praises, we need him to provide the Melody. Paradoxically though, once the Divine Composer gives the cue for that majestic symphony to begin, we will most probably be left with no words. In the Adi Granth we read:
I met my friend and asked her the signs of her Lord. But she does not know how to speak, because she is filled with the intoxication of the bliss of love.
Now, just because we may not have experienced the Lord or the Shabad within, does it mean that we do not have any love for him? Love for the Lord is inherent in us; it may first manifest itself through simple things like the beauty of a rainbow or the sweetness of a melody – that joy, that compassion and that admiration that we experience are reflections of the love we possess. This love then matures when we listen to the Master’s teachings, when we sit in his company and when we look into his eyes – that familiarity, that closeness, that comfort that we feel, are aspects of the love we have for our Creator.
So the love is there; be it emotional or intellectual, all we have to do is channelize it and use it to access that true, eternal love.
For now, when Masters ask us to do our meditation with love and devotion, what they expect us to do is to draw from what we have and reflect it through our efforts, our sincerity, and our determination to gain that experience. Eventually it will be the awareness and experience acquired through meditation that will turn us into real lovers of the Lord.
And let me remember You with calmness and determination, even when it is hard for me to say: ‘I love you’.
Dhu’l-Nun al-Misri, as quoted in Like the Flowing River