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When a seeker learns to truly love humanity, religion fulfills its central purpose. A pure heart—that powerful inner light which beckons us all—can only come from love.
Every great Faith teaches this essential, unifying message:
There is a Spirit that is mind and life, light and truth, and vast spaces. He contains all works and desires and perfumes and all tastes. He enfolds the whole universe, and in silence is loving to all. – The Upanishads.
Love is the beginning and end of the Torah. – The Torah.
Through love of man, through service and through truth raise thou our souls into the realms of light. – The Gathas.
He that loveth not, knoweth not God. For God is love. – The Dhammapada
God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. – The New Testament
Cling, all, to the strong rope of Love Divine—Love for each other, and of the One God—and do not think of separation ever. – The Qur’an
Love is the greatest law in this vast universe of God! Love is the cause of unfoldment to a searching mind, of the secrets deposited in the universe by the Infinite! – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 5, p. 126.
So here’s the question: do you feel love for everyone who crosses your path? Do you know anyone who does? They light up the entire world, those mirrors that reflect the love of the Creator, their souls shining with delight and joy.
You probably know at least one person like that, who has a loving, open spirit, someone who consistently evinces joy and happiness. Everyone wants to be near those radiant souls, because their joy feels so compelling, so attractive, so captivating and so warm. These kinds of qualities exemplify people who have journeyed into the valley of love: radiance, enthusiasm, genuineness, an internally-generated happiness that cannot be faked, real and lasting concern and care for others. When you meet these souls, they have the power to uplift your heart, make you happier and more alive.
When you develop those qualities yourself, and begin generating that selfless love, it will profoundly influence others. A ray of such powerful reflected love striking the heart of another person can have a powerful effect. Psychologists call this generative love, because its creative reality builds connections and forges strong bonds that lead to grace, wholeness and unity.
As you walk the path of spiritual search, the gradual opening of the emotions in the valley of love makes for greater acceptance and tolerance, allows for mutual respect, and widens both your vision and the vision of those whose lives you touch. When you reach this stage, you begin to discover a profound truth, the mighty principle of authentic love that forms the real source of change in all human affairs.
This opening and dilation of the emotions also propels your progress through the valley of love:
The heart is the organ of opening up to somebody else. That’s the human quality as opposed to the animal qualities, which have to do with self-interest. – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, p. 189.
When man allows the spirit, through his soul, to enlighten his understanding, then does he contain all Creation; because man, being the culmination of all that went before and thus superior to all previous evolutions, contains all the lower world within himself. Illumined by the spirit through the instrumentality of the soul, man’s radiant intelligence makes him the crowning-point of Creation. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 96-97.
Of course, opening the heart takes courage. It requires spiritual awareness, a commitment to embrace the future, a dedication to the new, an intent to learn, and trust that the power of the universe will ultimately treat you well. In short, it takes faith.
Faith, then, becomes the foundational substructure of love, the essential ingredient in accepting the ultimate unity of creation and its Creator:
Faith is much better than belief. Belief is when someone else does the thinking. – Buckminster Fuller.
Traversing the valley of love, the true seeker transcends the rational and falls in love with all creation. Here the awakened soul itself murmurs to your consciousness, and you open your perceptions to a world beyond this one. You sense a new dimension to your reality, a purely spiritual dimension, where your heart and mind and emotions enter a space they’ve never imagined before:
Likewise, looking deep within the mind, in the very most interior part of the self, when the mind becomes very, very quiet, and one listens very carefully, in that infinite silence, the soul begins to whisper, and its feather-soft voice takes one far beyond what the mind could ever imagine, beyond anything rationality could possibly tolerate, beyond anything logic can endure. In its gentle whisperings, there are the faintest hints of infinite love, glimmers of a life that time forgot, flashes of a bliss that must not be mentioned, an infinite intersection where the mysteries of eternity breathe life into mortal time, where suffering and pain have forgotten how to pronounce their own names, this secret quiet intersection of time and the very timeless, an intersection called the soul. – Ken Wilber, Integral Psychology, p. 106.
The Baha’i teachings promise us, in the valley of love, that the soul will allow the heart to open not just to another person, but to that person’s inner essence. When we’re in the process of spiritual search, we all recognize it instantly, because we all share the same essence. In the valley of love the seeker’s newly-awakened faith welcomes an unknown future, transforming the true seeker from singular and alone into the open, engaging, loving human being we all deeply want to become.