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What World Religions Say About the Nature of Love

V. M. Gopaul | Mar 6, 2021

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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V. M. Gopaul | Mar 6, 2021

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

These days, it’s easy to feel alarmed by the news. In these times of conflict, division, and unease, calls for unity ring loud in every region. How can love help us get there?

Unity does not happen in a vacuum; it is a natural cohesion that exists even in nature. Abdu’l-Baha, the son of the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah, wrote in “Star of the West”: “In the world of affairs, organization in itself is power, yet disharmony flows from it; but in the world of the Kingdom, where love is the law of organization, unity radiates from its power.

In nature, love is at the center of unity, and love is one of the foundational teachings of all world religions. Human love comes in many shades — romantic love, family love, love for your friends, and love for your country. But when love is based on material desires, it can become an obsession and lead to disagreement, disunity, and violence. Passion is a good thing, but it must be tempered with wisdom. 

RELATED: Love: An Action, Not a Feeling

Considering the problems facing humanity, love for our fellow beings is not enough. Let’s look into what different religions say about the nature of love.

Love in Buddhism

According to the Buddha, “love is one of the paths to full spiritual liberation.” The four kinds of love encouraged in Buddhist doctrine are loving kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity. 

Love in Christianity

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul says that love is the greatest divine virtue when compared to faith and hope. “So faith, hope, love abide, these three: but the greatest of these is love.” 

Love in Hinduism

Love in Hinduism is a sacrament. One gives up selfishness in love, not expecting anything in return. Furthermore, “Family love, married love and other secular forms of love are subordinate to the divine love or emotional love of God.”

Love in Islam

According to the Quran, love “belongs only to the precious and valuable things as far as they are so.” Love has to be enlightened. “A sacred love is the love which is realistic and insightful.” In other words, we should love God above all things. “No other love may override one’s love for God; God should be the highest and foremost object of love.”

Love in Jainism

According to Jainism, the highest forms of love are non-violence, sociability, compassion, and peaceful coexistence.

Love in Judaism

The Jewish Torah says, “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Kindness is a huge part of Judaism, and the word “mitzvah” means doing any good deed. The Ten Commandments say to love God above all, and Judaism recognizes the sacredness of life by giving much significance to its preservation. 

Love in the Baha’i Faith

In the Baha’i Faith, the love of God is considered the origin of love in all creation: “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.” The love of human beings for God is “the origin of all philanthropy; this love causes the hearts of men to reflect the rays of the Sun of Reality.”

Love for God

These different religious writings tell us that we need love of God, which has been mentioned in every holy book and is above all other forms of love. Could it be that the love of God is the key ingredient in achieving the cherished divine goal?

Mother Teresa was once asked about the unconditional compassion, generosity, and love she showed to others. She answered that it is only possible when one sees the positive attributes in others — such as forgiveness, kindness, and mercy — the powers of our Creator. Then it is easier to overlook the shortcomings of others and only see the face of the Lord. 

RELATED: Seeking God’s Acceptance Not Other People’s Approval

The Baha’i writings say that we will have arrived at the destination of true oneness when “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.

When this idea grows into global consciousness, the concept of “us” and “them” will evaporate and be replaced with a vision of the oneness of humanity — a vision for a world where we love and are loved by others, and treat them as we would like to be treated. Our love for our fellow human beings, and therefore our Creator, can transform our current world into paradise.

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