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Spirituality

Where Does Love Come From?

V. M. Gopaul | Apr 17, 2022

PART 1 IN SERIES Love and Religion

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 | Apr 17, 2022

PART 1 IN SERIES Love and Religion

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

Think for a moment of all the people you admire: your heroes. They could be your parents, your children, your spouse, a friend, a neighbor, a teacher, and even someone you have never met. 

What forges the common bond in all of these relationships? Usually, we admire people for their commendable inner qualities.

That admiration grows with an emotional and spiritual connection. You want to know everything about them: you listen carefully to their every word; you try to help them in difficulties and even confide in them. Adoration for your heroes is a result of the love you have for them. This selfless attraction means knowing and loving become inseparable.

RELATED: Abdu’l-Baha: The Perfect Embodiment of Universal Love

Love is manifested at all levels of our existence. Even before we take our first breath, we are immersed in our parents’ love. Love, as the old saying goes, makes the world go ‘round. In fact, the Baha’i teachings say that love manifests its reality in every grade and degree of matter. Abdu’l-Baha, in a talk he gave in Maine in 1912, said:

When we observe the phenomena of the universe, we realize that the axis around which life revolves is love … Let us view the mineral kingdom. Here we see that if attraction did not exist between the atoms, the composite substance of matter would not be possible. Every existent phenomenon is composed of elements and cellular particles. This is scientifically true and correct. If attraction did not exist between the elements and among the cellular particles, the composition of that phenomenon would never have been possible. 

Every atom, molecule, cell, and organ obeys this law of love and cohesion to form a whole. Our bodies stay close to the Earth’s surface by the pull of gravitational force. Human interactions are governed by the degree of love we feel for others. The pursuit of art, science, business, and hobbies are all highly driven by passion. 

Without the force of love, disintegration is sure to come. After death, the attraction of our body’s cohesive elements disappears and decay gradually causes all the organs and cells to break down into their simplest molecular forms. Lack of love at a social level leads to the breakdown of friendships, families, and societies, as well. So love isn’t just an emotion – it provides the vital force that holds everything together.

What is Love? 

How can anyone define the unseen and immeasurable? Though love has been discussed, examined, and glorified in thousands of books and millions of songs, yet our human capacity to understand this emotion in all of its aspects is limited. One thing is clear, however: the tenderness of love is felt in the heart. This is true whether love be for a person, an idea, or the Creator. Love is as vast and as complicated as creation itself; even though millions of poets have tried, no one can confine it to words. 

Yet let us consider the subject of love, the cause of our existence. In the previous article in this series we looked at the knowledge of God – but no one can truly know God without love. The Bible says: “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 

To better understand this most essential power, it helps to know that love is the central theme in every religious tradition. In Buddhism, for example, love lives at the heart of wisdom. The Eightfold Path, one of the Buddha’s principal teachings of enlightenment, says: “He has cast away ill-will; he dwells with a heart free from ill-will; cherishing love and compassion toward all living beings, he cleanses his heart from ill-will.” 

In Judaism it is said: “Let all those that seek Thee rejoice and be glad in Thee; and let such as love Thy salvation say continually: ‘Let God be magnified.’

Jesus Christ expanded the theme of love to such a degree that it became one of the primary pillars of Christianity. Jesus explained how the Unseen can be brought closer to us through love: “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

In the Qur’an, Muhammad said, “Yet are there some amongst mankind who take to themselves peers other than God; they love them as they should love God while those who believe love God more.

The Baha’i writings constitute an enormous storehouse of insight about love. In the Baha’i Faith, the concept of love shines like a diamond with a multitude of facets, as expressed here in a talk Abdu’l-Baha gave in London:

My hope is that through the zeal and ardour of the pure of heart, the darkness of hatred and difference will be entirely abolished, and the light of love and unity shall shine; this world shall become a new world; things material shall become the mirror of the divine; human hearts shall meet and embrace each other; the whole world become as a man’s native country and the different races be counted as one race.

RELATED: A Mystical Look at the Stages of Love

The Baha’i teachings say that an individual may relate to love in many ways; that knowledge cannot be acquired without love for the object of understanding; that faith is directly tied to love; that justice cannot exist without love; and that the unity of humankind, one of the prime principles of the Baha’i revelation, will only happen with the love of God and of our fellow human beings. 

For Baha’is, the divine lamp found in every soul cannot be kindled without love. Love is the key to the spiritual recovery of a ailing soul. Work is only considered worship if it is done with love. Lasting changes on an individual or societal level cannot take place without love. 

These few examples barely scratch the surface of a subject as vast and deep as the universe. The Baha’i teachings give us a well-spring that flows with limitless understandings of love.

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