If we can’t actually know or understand our Creator—if, as the Baha’i writings say, God is an “unknowable essence”—then how can we love God? How can we love something so unknowable?
To answer those questions, let’s try to define spiritual love. Abdu’l-Baha said that “Love is the breath of the Holy Spirit in the heart of Man.” Paris Talks, p. 23.
Also, the Baha’i writings present us with this definition of the four basic kinds of love:
Love is only of the four kinds … (a) The love of God towards the identity of God. Christ has said God is Love. (b) The love of God for His children—for His servants. (c) The love of man for God and (d) the love of man for man. These four kinds of love originate from God. These are rays from the Sun of Reality; these are the Breathings of the Holy Spirit; these are the Signs of the Reality. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 181.
In his definition of the four kinds of love, Abdu’l-Baha describes human love for God as an inherent quality of the human soul. He defines all four different kinds of love, including humanity’s love for God, as “rays from the Sun of Reality” and “Breathings of the Holy Spirit.”
Zeroing-in on the view that human beings’ love for God is directly connected with true and lasting love amongst humanity, Abdu’l-Baha said:
The love which exists between the hearts of believers is prompted by the ideal of the unity of spirits. This love is attained through the knowledge of God, so that men see the Divine Love reflected in the heart. 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. This love will make all men the waves of one sea, this love will make them all the stars of one heaven and the fruits of one tree. This love will bring the realization of true accord, the foundation of real unity. – Ibid.
In his writings, Baha’u’llah assists us in appreciating our natural love for God: “I have breathed within thee a breath of My own Spirit, that thou mayest be My lover.” – The Hidden Words, p. 8. In the same book, he wrote: “My claim on thee is great, it cannot be forgotten. My grace to thee is plenteous, it cannot be veiled. My love has made in thee its home, it cannot be concealed.” – Ibid., pp. 8-9.
Just as a baby naturally loves the mother, we naturally feel love for our Creator. We express it in different ways, but the Baha’i teachings advise us to show our love for God with selfless service to His creation—humanity. As Abdu’l-Baha said “… service in love for mankind is unity with God.” – The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 185.
Ultimately, then, we have no greater path to tread as spiritual beings but the path of God, given our love for Him, the Baha’i writings state:
Whither can a lover go but to the land of his beloved? and what seeker findeth rest away from his heart’s desire? To the true lover reunion is life, and separation is death. His breast is void of patience and his heart hath no peace. A myriad lives he would forsake to hasten to the abode of his beloved.” – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 23.
But a logical question arises when we consider humanity’s natural love for God: If humanity truly loves God, what are the reasons for the signs of conflict, prejudice and hatred among humanity, including all of the acts not in harmony with divine standards of love and kindness? In other words, what would cause a person not to consciously, decisively, objectively reflect love for God?
Baha’is regard this question as primarily an educational one:
The Prophets come into the world to guide and educate humanity so that the animal nature of man may disappear and the divinity of his powers become awakened. The divine aspect or spiritual nature consists of the breaths of the Holy Spirit. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 41.
… we must not make distinctions between individual members of the human family. We must not consider any soul as barren or deprived. Our duty lies in educating souls so that the Sun of the bestowals of God shall become resplendent in them, and this is possible through the power of the oneness of humanity. The more love is expressed among mankind and the stronger the power of unity, the greater will be this reflection and revelation, for the greatest bestowal of God is love. Love is the source of all the bestowals of God. Until love takes possession of the heart, no other divine bounty can be revealed in it. – Ibid., p. 15.
Without divine education, the spiritual virtues that characterize humanity, including love of humanity for God, love of human beings for their kind, and the desire for universal peace, cannot be adequately activated. The nature of the spiritual training intended by Baha’u’llah embraces human, material and spiritual education. Commenting on spiritual or divine education, Abdu’l-Baha said:
As to divine education, it is the education of the Kingdom and consists in acquiring divine perfections. This is indeed true education, for by its virtue man becomes the focal centre of divine blessings and the embodiment of the verse “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.” This is the ultimate goal of the world of humanity. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, p. 8.
Today, expressing love for God directly relates to the fulfillment of this vision. Around the world, Baha’is are busy promoting that vision—trying to uplift the purpose of every human soul, given the principle of divine likeness and love. In fact, the Universal House of Justice wrote:
The World Order of Baha’u’llah is the divinely ordained system for which nations and peoples so desperately search. … this Order is without precedent in human history for its standard of justice and its commitment to the practical realization of the oneness of mankind, as well as for its capacity to promote change and the advancement of world civilization. It provides the means by which the Divine Will illumines the path of human progress and guides the eventual establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. – The Universal House of Justice, 25 March 2007.
Expressing their love for God in action, Baha’is all around the globe have helped in the implementation of this vision through a systematic educational process that engages children, youth and adults, all geared towards making Baha’u’llah’s teachings regarding the oneness of humanity and the unity of religions evident in social and cultural reality.