Love is the Answer Part 1
(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed)
With the inspiration of Saint Francis, a great mystic in the Christian tradition, I am exploring his famous prayer since it seems very much in the mood of our great Vaishnava saints and bhakti yogis. I spoke of sowing peace in a recent blog which began my thinking of his prayer. Whereas peace may be a kind of passive, inactive state of being, it requires to be coupled with love to realize its full potential. A progressive idea of love is that love is an action word, or verb, and not merely a feeling, or noun. “Love is as love does,” expresses this idea, and is the basis of bhakti or devotional service, with the additional idea of being part of the soul’s spiritual relationship with God. If it is really true that “love makes the world go around,” or that hate is the basis of many world conflicts, then it is essential to think about and understand these opposite states or energies.
As I have often mentioned, taking the clue from the Bhagavad Gita, everything is energy, either material or spiritual, so to think of emotions like love, hate, happiness, lust, or anger as energy states gives us the idea that that being absorbed in a particular emotion will have consequences in our life, and those who surrounds us. Important to consider is that love, hate, or happiness, etc. is a choice! Here is a useful definition of energy used in the study of Physics: “Energy is the capacity of a physical system to perform work. Energy exists in several forms such as heat, kinetic, or mechanical energy, light, potential energy, electrical, or other forms.” Please think of the first sentence here: the capacity to perform work. Isn’t that revealing? We don't endeavor without an impetus, and it is helpful to reflect on what the energy behind our action is. Can we all agree that being motivated by love will have a much better outcome then hate?
The spiritual world, which can be thought of as the original plane, or archetypal dimension, from which the material world comes, is the land of loving service, and full, all-encompassing, joyful expressions of loving faith. There, love is the celebration of the mutual love between Krishna and all living beings. Krishna is love personified, or the highest, purest love in the best form or shape to facilitate its fullest expression, or divine rapture, or every increasing spiritual ecstasy. Indeed Shri Radha, Krishna’s greatest devotee and other self, is said to have a body made of ecstasy, with clothes and ornaments similarly made. Ecstasy or prema doesn’t exist without relationships, or relationships facilitate that sharing of pure love. This is a dynamic idea of Oneness, where everything is individually united in love for Krishna. Everything in our experience is in relationship to something else. Nothing exists in a vacuum. This is a clue to understand our Source and eternal nature.
The force of pure love must be the strongest force in the Universe (and in all of existence) as it is through love that the spiritual and material worlds are sustained and flourish. Krishna’s love is the power or glue that holds the atoms or all forms together. Pure Love, or prema, commands there to be form, variety and relationships. This is the meaning that love exists for its own sake. We tiny souls are part of Krishna’s love, since we are part of Him. In fact all souls are knowingly or unknowingly searching to find this pure, though hidden, love. Pure love is our nature as souls, but now it is covered by the material body and mind and pervertedly manifested as lust, anger, and greed over material objects—things or other bodies. Like a lamp that requires to be plugged in to shine, we have to plug in to our original loving relationship with Krishna to become whole and fulfilled.
Pure love has no selfish motivation. It exists only to be shared and expand, and is centered on service to Krishna and those dear to him. On a human level we might define love as extending our self for the purpose of nurturing our own or another’s spiritual growth. With the attempt to see everyone as a soul, we can offer common courtesies and kindness with the prayer to benefit this soul having a forgetful human experience. Loving well means being a well-wisher of everyone.
Though we suffer in English in only having one word for love, we can say there is the highest spiritual love or prema, and then worldly love based on the body—and many categories in each. In a broad—perhaps too broad—sense “love” with no relationship to God is lust, or at least influenced by it as it is based on the material appearance of beauty or value (what's in it for me). It is often possessive (you are mine), controlling (do what I want), and at worst exploitative—many things supposedly done out of love are destructive.
Having said this, “love” has been something of a four letter word among devotees of Krishna over the years. This labeling of all love as lust has caused turmoil in marriages and relationships. Although we can have only theoretical knowledge of what prema is, still we all have some idea of what loving affection is. Today this is referred to as “unconditional regard or love.” My guru, Shrila Prabhupada, gave us the example of the mother’s selfless giving to her child as an example in our experience giving us a clue of love. He also said that, “The basic principle of the living condition is that we have a general propensity to love someone. No one can live without loving someone else. This propensity is present in every living being.” Therefore, we must try our best to love others in relationship to our focus on loving and serving Krishna. In the spiritual world every soul loves life and one another, but they love Krishna more, who is like their life-breathe, unforgettable, irresistible.
Although I am out of words for a blog, I will end this first part of our exploration on giving love for hate, by briefly saying something about hate. As darkness is the absence of light, so hatred is the absence or denial of love. Hatred is love going in the opposite direction. Those who feel unloved, respond with hate. The darkness of hate can only be changed with the brightness of love. Love is the highest vibration and appears gentle, while hatred is one of the lowest, and appears hard, unyielding. However, the gentleness of love will overcome the so-called power of hatred. Things aren't always what they appear on the surface. In the presence of hatred if we are to avoid being dragged down into reacting to hate with hate, we must learn to give love in response to hate. This is the spiritual response to hate that affords the best opportunity to change the person or situation. On some level they do change, at least for the time being.
Regardless of the external outcome of expressing or mentally sending our loving best intentions to expressions of hate, we will personally be changed or strengthened. This is the meaning to the idea that "love never fails." Here is a great quote by Booker T. Washington, who was responding to those who were prejudiced against him because his skin color was black: “I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.” Love or hate is a choice! In part two I will explore some strategies for sowing love in response to hatred. Hare Krishna!