This article appeared in the July 2022 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link: https://www.ultindia.org/current_issues.html
Do you really love others? Or only your own self? It appears that our love for people and things is mere delusion. We claim to love our near and dear ones, our friends, and our pets. We are ready to do anything for them so long as they bring us happiness. But the moment any of them behaves against our wish, stops caring for us, or fights with us over property and makes us miserable, then will we still love them as we did before? The same applies to our possessions. We love our car when it is new and works well. We are too ready to discard it when it begins to require frequent repairs. We erroneously believe that we love money. The fact is that we love what money is able to get for us, comfort and luxury. The same money feels troublesome when we get life threats from a gangster or when Income Tax authorities raid our house.
You only love something or someone who gives you happiness, because you love only yourself. Every individual dearly loves only himself, says Brihadaranyak Upanishad (verse 2.4.5). This verse applies to every human being on this planet. We wish to part from every person or thing that ceases to give us happiness. “Even a person who commits suicide does it because he loves himself so much that he wants to get free from the problems causing him pain,” writes Acharya Upendra ji.
But great saints or gurus have a far exalted definition of self, namely, “Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam,” or the whole world is their family. A guru physically bears the pain of the sins of his disciples and yet thinks only of their upliftment. Jesus died on the Cross to alleviate some of the suffering of humanity. “Even though gurus too love their own selves, the entire world fits into their ‘self.’ Now do you really feel that your love for your partner, children, parents or your belongings is selfless?...Think and you will get the answer,” writes Acharya Upendra ji, a spiritual leader and the founder of Antar Yog Foundation. (Sunday Free Press Journal, June 5, 2022)
Love is an essential part of human existence, as without love, life is barren and frozen. Without love there can be no unfoldment, no growth. The accepted notion, that love is merely an emotional state, needs correction. If we can feel the little of “compassion” that the great ones feel, then we will know that love is more than the opposite of hate and a far more nobler feeling which helps us overcome the sense of separateness between ourselves and our fellows. There is “Love” as a feeling, which is different from “Love” as a virtue. “Love” as virtue is the result of transformation of natural love. All feelings are separative. There is blind Cupid and the all-seeing Eros, which is the Love that sees and understands, writes Shri B. P. Wadia.
A Master of Wisdom hints at the ladder of love that has many steps. He who loves lives. He who loves himself lives in hell. He who loves another, lives on earth. In loving another, we go over the wall of our selfhood, push aside our own happiness as triviality, and effortlessly plant the interest of another in the centre of our being. He who loves others lives in heaven. When we are able to generate unselfish impersonal love for the fellow-men, expanding the circle of love to include, “the great orphan—Humanity,” and are able to love without being loved in return, are ready to sacrifice our own good for the welfare of others, then we find ourselves in blissful state of mind of heaven. But there is a still higher step. He who silently adores the Self of all creatures lives in that Self: and It is eternal peace. Even the satisfaction of helping others must be given up, as there is higher life than that of altruism, the life of self-identification with the Supreme, enabling us to recognize the One in the many, and to be the friend of all creatures, and remain in harmony with all that lives and breathes.