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The One true God, exalted be His glory, hath wished nothing for Himself. The allegiance of mankind profiteth Him not, neither doth its perversity harm Him. The Bird of the Realm of Utterance voiceth continually this call: ‘All things have I willed for thee, and thee, too, for thine own sake.’ If the learned and worldly-wise men of this age were to allow mankind to inhale the fragrance of fellowship and love, every understanding heart would apprehend the meaning of true liberty, and discover the secret of undisturbed peace and absolute composure. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 162.
Love is a big word. It’s way beyond me. But I will write about the topic of Love anyway, since it’s one of “Names of God” used in the Baha’i Calendar.
In the Baha’i Calendar, “Love” is the name given to the 10th year in each Baha’i cycle of 19 years. In the original Persian and Arabic texts of the Baha’i writings, “Love” is also a four-letter word: Hubb.
First of all, a disclaimer: I am no authority on “love.” Far from it! Despite that, I’ll offer a few thoughts based on my limited understanding of the Baha’i teachings that pertain to this far-reaching and profound topic.
First of all, love is not only universal, but it holds the universe together! Did you know that? I didn’t, until I came across this fascinating statement by Abdu’l-Baha:
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 divers 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. – Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 27–28 (emphasis added).
In other words, love holds the universe together. Love keeps the universe going.
If this is true physically, how much more so spiritually!
We can certainly say that love keeps the universe of human interaction going. Not only that, families couldn’t exist or thrive without love. The same thing can be said for society at large, for any given society is an aggregate of its families, bearing in mind that the family is the most basic social unit.
When you mention love, the first thing that probably comes to most people’s minds is romantic love. In that sense, we see love expressed as physical attraction, as well as a certain chemistry between a pair of interacting personalities who enjoy each other’s company. In this basic sense, love acts as the power of attraction.
But at the physical level, that kind of love is often superficial. Although it can be deeply passionate, it may fade quickly. For love to endure, it must be based on something far deeper than the physical.
As for human relationships, such as love between husband and wife, the greater power of love is not attraction, but rather keeping the relationship together, alive and healthy.
Now let’s take a look at the types of love the Baha’i writings discuss:
In the Gospel it is said God is love.
There are four kinds of love. The first is the love that flows from God to man; it consists of the inexhaustible graces, the Divine effulgence and heavenly illumination. Through this love the world of being receives life. Through this love man 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. This love is the origin of all the love in the world of creation.
The second is the love that flows from man to God. This is faith, attraction to the Divine, enkindlement, progress, entrance into the Kingdom of God, receiving the Bounties of God, illumination with the lights of the Kingdom. This love is the origin of all philanthropy; this love causes the hearts of men to reflect the rays of the Sun of Reality.
The third is the love of God towards the Self or Identity of God. This is the transfiguration of His Beauty, the reflection of Himself in the mirror of His Creation. This is the reality of love, the Ancient Love, the Eternal Love. Through one ray of this Love all other love exists.
The fourth is the love of man for man. 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. …
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, pp. 180-181.
The first kind of love is expressed in the opening quote cited above. Please take a moment and reread that remarkable passage.
You might also take a look at this previous BahaiTeachings.org article: “From Frightened to Enlightened.”
The Baha’i Calendar charts the passage of time, but the Baha’i Calendar can also help us chart our own progress, especially when we use it to meditate on such profound divine perfections and human virtues as Love.