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Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule. – Buddha
When our media constantly reports school shootings, racially-based violence and killings, and other deplorable acts of inhumanity, it becomes all too apparent that our culture could use a lesson in loving each other and removing hate from our lives.
The Baha’i teachings offer wonderful spiritual guidance around this topic of love conquering hate. In the following quote, for example, Abdu’l-Baha gives us practical advice by asking us to first focus our thoughts on positive goals:
I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content. Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness… If you desire with all your heart, friendship with every race on earth, your thought, spiritual and positive, will spread; it will become the desire of others, growing stronger and stronger, until it reaches the minds of all men. – Paris Talks, pp. 29-30.
In this powerful quote, Abdu’l-Baha not only offers practical advice; he also seems to be telling us that, as we concentrate our thoughts on love and unity, our thoughts will actually encourage friendship, peace, and happiness, spreading from person to person until these positive thoughts reach “the minds of all men.” Our positive and loving thoughts will literally become the desire of others.
This happy task of removing hatred from our planet and replacing it with love happens every minute of every day. As we practice it, we might ask ourselves this: what is love, exactly? We need to know what it is if we’re going to concentrate our energies on it.
In the Baha’i writings, Abdu’l-Baha defines love in a deeper manner than any dictionary could, when he portrays it as the “eternal breath” of the Holy Spirit:
Know thou of a certainty that Love is the secret of God’s holy Dispensation, the manifestation of the All-Merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings. Love is heaven’s kindly light, the Holy Spirit’s eternal breath that vivifieth the human soul. Love is the cause of God’s revelation unto man, the vital bond inherent, in accordance with the divine creation, in the realities of things. Love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next. Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul. Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the diverse elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms. Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe. Love is the spirit of life unto the adorned body of mankind, the establisher of true civilization in this mortal world, and the shedder of imperishable glory upon every high-aiming race and nation. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 27.
Besides being the light that guides us through darkness, and the power that binds the world together, this quote tells us that love is the actual force that gives life to the human soul. Love reveals the universe’s mysteries. Love guarantees us true happiness:
The message of the holy, divine Manifestations is love; the phenomena of creation are based upon love; the radiance of the world is due to love; the well-being and happiness of the world depend upon it. Therefore, I admonish you that you must strive throughout the human world to diffuse the light of love. The people of this world are thinking of warfare; you must be peacemakers. The nations are self-centered; you must be thoughtful of others rather than yourselves. They are neglectful; you must be mindful. They are asleep; you should be awake and alert. May each one of you be as a shining star in the horizon of eternal glory. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 337.
In this Baha’i quote, Abdu’l-Baha urges us to promote peace, exercise mindfulness, and thoughtfully and selflessly help others. In doing so, we can eliminate hatred by following the eternal rule of loving each other, concentrating our hearts on love and unity, and putting the needs of others before our own needs.
As we apply these teachings and writings to our own lives, let’s become “shining star[s] in the horizon of eternal glory,” loving one other in unity and harmony. The happiness of the world depends on it.