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Is all love created equal? Can the love that God has for us ever be the same as the love we have for each other?
Baha’is believe that all the love that exists in the world originates from God. That said, there are four different types of divine love, each with special powers and qualities.
1. God’s Love for Humanity
The first type of love is the love that God has for humanity. This all-encompassing love is often manifested through the limitless graces and divine inspiration we receive. But most importantly, God’s love for us is the reason we were brought into this world. Before each of us even existed, God loved us and gave us the gift of life.
“Through this love,” Abdu’l-Baha, one of the central figures of the Baha’i Faith explained, humanity “is endowed with physical existence, until, through the breath of the Holy Spirit—this same love—he receives eternal life and becomes the image of the Living God.” God’s love for us is the reason our souls are immortal and can continue to progress long after we pass away from this earthly realm.
2. Humanity’s Love for God
O SON OF BEING! Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee.
When we allow ourselves to form a mystical connection with our Creator and fall in love with this unknowable essence, we are able to receive the “Bounties of God” as our hearts become illumined “with the lights of the [heavenly] Kingdom.” Abdu’l-Baha said, “This love is the origin of all philanthropy.” As this fire of the love of God burns brightly within our hearts, we become inspired and energized to serve humanity and contribute to the betterment of our world.
3. God’s Love for the Identity of God
The third type of love is “the love of God towards the Self or Identity of God.” Abdu’l-Baha said:
This is the transfiguration of His Beauty, the reflection of Himself in the mirror of His Creation.
The prophets, or Manifestations of God, are these pure mirrors, because they perfectly reflect the radiance of God and reveal his messages in a way that humanity can understand. These Messengers include Abraham, Zoroaster, Krishna, the Buddha, Moses, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, the Bab, and Baha’u’llah. These Manifestations of God are physical and spiritual manifestations of this type of love. They are clear channels of God’s Selfhood and Voice.
Of course, you don’t have to be a prophet to reflect the effulgent beauty of God. We were all created in the image of God and have the essence of divine light within us. When we cleanse our hearts through following divine guidance and living our lives like a prayer, we can reflect the many attributes of God. This love that God has for our higher nature is ancient and eternal. Abdu’l-Baha said:
Through one ray of this Love all other love exists.
4. Humanity’s Love for Each Other
The fourth type of love is the love that we have for our family, friends, and significant other. We experience this love that we have for other people when we know God and “see the Divine Love reflected” in each other’s hearts.
Each sees in the other the Beauty of God reflected in the soul, and finding this point of similarity, they are attracted to one another in love.”
When we recognize the good and praiseworthy attributes in someone and fall in love with the God within them, our spirits become united. This love can make people as inseparable as the “waves of one sea…the stars of one heaven, and the fruits of one tree.” Baha’is believe that this “love will bring the realization of true accord, the foundation of real unity.”
However, Abdu’l-Baha clarified, “the love which sometimes exists between friends is not (true) love” if it is conditional and subject to change. That’s simply fascination. He shared that one day you might see two close friends who say they are ready to die for one another and the next day, they don’t even want to be seen in each other’s company.
This is not love; it is the yielding of the hearts to the accidents of life. When that which has caused this ‘love’ to exist passes, the love passes also…
Love is more heartfelt than acquaintanceship and much deeper than superficial attraction. It can never be confined to a set of rules, requirements, or conditions. It is pure, enduring, and long lasting; it is God. As Abdu’l-Baha said:
These [four kinds of love] are rays from the Sun of Reality; these are the Breathings of the Holy Spirit; these are the Signs of the Reality.
Now, our love can not be limited to people who look, think, and act like we do. The Baha’i writings call all of us to be “filled with universal love” and let our hearts “burn with loving kindness” for everyone who crosses our path.
This can only be done when our hearts are aglow with the love of God first. So, strive to see no one as a stranger, but instead a potential friend. The more we fall in love with the God in every living soul, the more we knit our hearts together and build peace and unity on Earth.