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Season 1 - Episode 8

Day 7: God is Love

60 min - Talk


A rose does not decide to smell like a rose. In Day 7, after a grounding meditation, Ravi discusses the prevalence of the concept of Love in both gnostic and canonical gospels. We learn that the highest reality is Love, that one must not try to love but that one must be Love, and that love can mean many different things depending upon the relationships of the individuals involved. We are given exercises to explore these principles in our own lives.
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Well, it's good for us to remind ourselves again why does one undertake meditation or any spiritual practice, recalling some obvious facts that the universe is very large, not centered around me, and that we are in a very ordinary galaxy while there are trillions of galaxies in the universe. But from the perspective of the spiritually oriented sages, what is something said by all of them throughout human history, that the entire universe is pervaded by conscious and subtle energies or forces? The labels naturally vary from culture to culture, language to language. So whether it is pervaded by the Holy Spirit or by Brahma or by Allah or simply the Absolute or sometimes merely saying that, because all the sages also say that it can't be described, this ultimate reality. But the call to any searcher to undertake spiritual practices that will assist the person to relate with these subtle and conscious energies, which are everywhere, including right here. So if I just used one expression, we are now under the gaze of the Holy Spirit right here. The reason for undertaking any practice, including meditation, is first of all to realize that these energies are much more conscious than we are. Therefore, what is required from our side is a kind of receptivity, not trying to command these forces. We cannot command the Holy Spirit or demand something from it, but we can become more and more receptive so that we can be contracted by the Holy Spirit. And our being, including my mind and body, can become an instrument of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, what is required from our side is how can I contribute more and more towards receptivity and a reminder that subtler the energy, more easily it is repelled by tension. So what is required from our side is deeper and deeper relaxation. We have a natural tendency to think of relaxation as a physical relaxation. Even a large glass of whiskey will do that kind of relaxation, but what is required is something active receptivity. So relaxation, largely an emotional relaxation. In fact, all our physical tensions in fact result from emotional tensions. Also a reminder that if my emotional energy is not used for something a little subtler or higher feeling, such as gratitude or compassion or wonder, then it naturally gets taken by ordinary low-level emotions such as resentment, jealousy, worry, expectation of this result or that result. Higher feelings are not in our control, but we can try to move towards them if I can again remind myself that these subtle energies have taken the trouble to create me. So a sense of gratitude for the fact that I exist and whatever I call myself usually refers to my body and my mind and that will obviously die in a few decades. So then a sense of wonder why these forces and energies which are conscious have taken the trouble to create me for a few decades. So as I move towards this sense of gratitude and wonder, then my emotional energy is not wasted in anxiety or worry. So periodically to remind myself, even initially purely mentally, but what is required is the feeling behind it. Then to find the right alignment, again initially physically to start with, a vertical posture as it were connecting with the vertical dimension of higher and higher or subtler and subtler levels of reality. Also the horizontal dimension of other fellow human beings. So if my eyes were open, I should be able to look horizontally, not looking up or sideways and the head is not inclined one way or the other. But then also the intellectual posture, simple reminder that I do not know and cannot know all there is to know. Therefore willing to be available to hear something that is fresh for me, may even surprise me. I don't need to categorize everything I hear. The other requirement from our side is to find ways of quietening our mind. As all the sages have said, there are levels of reality subtler than the mind. And this is one specific advantage of meditation right now. Our attention is not needed for any external activity. So we can be a little bit more aware of how my mind can stay here. Why does it wander away? How can I assist it to stay here? Not to be fighting against the mind, finding affectionate manners of keeping the mind connected with something much more stable, namely my own body, so that it doesn't run around thinking of this or that.

Also the obvious fact that I did not create myself and this suggestion from various scriptures that my life energy comes into my body and manifests itself as my breathing. So I pay some attention to my breathing. As long as I am alive, breathing will continue. It can be helpful if I become aware of the movement of my abdomen, up and down, corresponding to breathing in and breathing out. That also assists in naturally deepening my breathing without forcing my breath outside or inside nor holding it. And it is all the substances I receive in my breathing, they are nourishing every part of my body. But it is helpful for us directly to try to sense the life energy in various parts of our body. So I take a moment to sense as deeply as I can the energy which is keeping my right leg alive. It is not a wooden leg. That awareness is assisted if I, as it were, place my out-breath in my right leg, right down to the toes. Now I shift my attention to the left leg. Now I place my out-breath into the whole of the pelvic area.

Abdomen. Chest. Right arm. Left arm. Whole of the back.

Head. Now as I place my out-breath into the whole of my body from the top of the head to the toes, again a sense of gratitude. The whole breath of God is keeping this organism alive. We take three more breaths now and then we'll have to stop. Well, we have been speaking about the whole project at least as far as we can understand


and I quoted from the Gospel of Philip that Christ came not to make us Christians but to make us Christ. What does it mean to become Christ? Really to become like Him, Son of God or daughter of God, children of God, which is very deeply the suggestion from Christ Himself actually. We will have a chance to look at this again and again, but some of these suggestions are much more emphasized in the Gnostic Gospels, although one can find them in the standard canonical Gospels as well, which we'll have a chance to look at. So, for example, let me right away show. This is from the Gospel of John, the very first chapter, verses 10 to 13. The world was in the world and through Him the world was made. Yet the world did not know who He was. To His own He came, yet His own did not accept Him, but to all who did receive Him, to those who have yielded Him their allegiance, He gave the right to become children of God, begotten not by blood, nor by carnal desire, nor by man's willing, but by God. This gets expressed in varieties of other ways, such as for them to have a spiritual birth or born of the spirit, born from above, or to have a virgin birth. This is really the meaning of the virgin birth, that it is not by, as He said here, by carnal desire, nor by man's willing, but by God.

So this is right there in the canonical Gospels, the suggestion that those who accept Him, in the sense of, can then become children of God, just like Him. And just to remind again this expression, the word, in the, this is the very first line in the first chapter of John's Gospel, in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. The word became flesh and dwelt in us. This is the fourteenth verse. Here I should make two comments. First of all, the word, word, which is written with the capital W, quite rightly, the Greek origin of that is logos. I think I have already mentioned that it has several meanings. It can mean spirit, it can mean intelligence, it can even mean fire, and consciousness. And this is a very large idea, because throughout all the spiritual traditions, the suggestion that the highest level of reality is the highest level of consciousness. This is almost the meaning of the word level, and that each level is trying to also evolve, as it were, to come home to God, to come to the highest level. So to become Son of God is really already very much in that direction. Then ultimately, as Christ Himself said, the Father and I are one. That would be really unity with God Himself. And then also the suggestion, this is the fourteenth verse in the first chapter, usually it is translated as, the word became flesh and dwelt among us. But it can literally be, if you ask a Greek professor, you can find out, it can also be translated as, the word became flesh and dwelt in us. Because the question of, is the level of the spirit that Christ is representing to be taken only in the fleshly form of Jesus, I will have a time later on maybe to a little bit emphasize a bit of a separation between Jesus and Christ. Because even within the standard Christian tradition, very strong idea that He was fully human as well as fully divine. And don't worry about any kind of an ordinary logical consistency because many of these spiritual traditions or spiritual mysteries can't be logically consistent. So He's fully divine and fully human. This is the standard idea in Christianity. This is not something that I am making up. But Jesus is somebody who was born at a certain time and died at a certain time. Christ really refers to the word, which as the very opening lines here say, and the word was God. So God doesn't die. God is not born in any sense of ordinary time that God is born. So one needs to make a little bit of this distinction, although throughout Christian history for centuries now, Jesus Christ becomes almost as if it's one name. I'm inviting you to think of these two as slightly different things here. But we'll have a little bit more, another occasion to speak about it. But again, a reminder, this is from the Gospel of Thomas. Christ's remark, I stood in the midst of the world and I appeared to them in flesh. I found all of them drunken. I found none among them thirsty. And my soul was pained for the children of men, for they are blind in their hearts and they do not see that they came empty into the world seeking also to leave the world empty. But now they are drunken. When they shake off their wine, then they will repent. Here I should not make, I will probably again return to some of these, some of these ideas. As you can see, we keep returning again and again because they need to be emphasized. The word which is translated as repent here, the Greek origin of that word is metanoia, which literally means making a 180 degree turn, a complete reversal of my life attitude or my direction. That is the real meaning of the word metanoia. It's almost always translated as repent or repentance. But what is to become a Son of God, to become like Christ? Here it is very important for us to understand what are the characteristics of Christ. A very fundamental characteristic of Christ is as if love oozes out of him. And first of all, let me remind you here, this is actually first letter of John, chapter 4, twice. It is said, whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. And then it is repeated, God is love and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. We need to stay with this sentence for a moment. To say God is love is a little different from saying God is loving. To say God is loving, this is one of the attributes of God. But to say God is love is to say this is the very structure of God. God cannot be anything but love. So it's very important to understand the distinction between these two remarks, God is loving and God is love. And what is being emphasized in this first letter of John? Reflect on this. We don't need to buy something, but in a way one may have even a different understanding of this. But I always invite people to have more than one understanding. Our friends can contribute to this. We don't need to so much be arguing about it. But if there are two or three different ways of looking at it, it can enlarge our understanding. Then it may even be that only one of that understanding makes more sense to me. And maybe I don't wish to necessarily spend time and energy on the other. But there is no need initially to dismiss this. So to say God is love, I will actually spend a little bit more time today to hold emphasis on love in the entire Christian tradition. It is not so easy. Every commandment of Christ or major commandment has the word love in it. And Saint Paul, I will quote to him from his letter to the Corinthians, particularly first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15, is absolutely striking what he says about love. It's almost impossible to find something so much emphasized in any other literature in the world, spiritual literature, at least in my reading. Again, I mean, I always ask people, if you know exception to anything I'm saying, please let me know. I haven't obviously read everything clearly. So whatever I say is based on what I know. So let me repeat this remark. God is love. Twice it is said and emphasized. And so if Christ is one with God or Son of God, so love is obviously almost part of his structure. And to say that is quite important for me. Let me take a moment to slightly sidestep. If I were to say or anybody were to say that the Buddha was enlightened, but he was not compassionate, that will be an oxymoron. Compassion, Buddha doesn't decide to be compassionate. Christ doesn't decide to be loving. He cannot not be loving. That is the very structure of compassion. Love as it were oozes out of him, just as compassion oozes out of the Buddha. The word compassion, I should also say here there are two or three words. In different traditions, they get slightly differently, but they probably are all aiming at the same. In the Islamic tradition, the word that gets used is mercy. For example, Allah the merciful is a very common expression. In the Buddhist tradition is the word compassion. Remember, he's all being translated into English. So this is part of the difficulty. They are coming from the languages which have probably all of these things are included in their word. But the moment they get translated into English, which has become the universal language now for all of us. So therefore don't get so stuck on it. In the case of Christ, we always speak about the loving Christ. In the case of the Buddha, the compassionate Buddha. In the case of Allah, the merciful Allah. But these are very closely related with each other. But the reason I'm emphasizing this, let me actually take more or less a contemporary example. I trust most of you at least have heard of Krishnamurti, especially in Ojai. Ojai is the only town I know in the whole world where in the public square they have one of the sayings of Krishnamurti in the public square. Even in India, there is no place like this, as far as I know. But on one occasion, this is not my personal encounter with Krishnamurti. I did meet him many times. But this is a report by Laura Huxley. She was the second wife of Aldous Huxley. After Huxley had died, Aldous Huxley had died, in one evening at Laura Huxley's place, several people were gathered together, including Krishnamurti. So this is her report. And they were mostly speaking about how they are going around the world trying to do good. And that's what people should be doing. So Krishnamurti intervened. He says, you shouldn't be going around the world doing good. And Laura Huxley says to him, but you do this, you're going around the world doing good all the time. He said, not intentionally. It's important to understand, because he very much used to insist, if you decide to do good, it's coming from your ego. The good needs to ooze out of you, because that's what you are. And the typical example he gave, several times in my hearing, a rose does not decide to smell like a rose. We recognize that it is a rose from its fragrance. So the Buddha doesn't decide to be compassionate. Christ doesn't decide to be loving. We recognize that it is Christ because of his love. So it's very important point. I know it can sound, but we don't need to get stuck on the fact that in a certain way it is true that in certain situation, if I find myself having contradictory feeling, I can decide that I need to be compassionate. So in that sense, but that is still coming from something in me which is feeling the contradiction. It's not coming from the level of the Buddha where there is not a sense of a contradiction. Compassion just oozes out, even if it's an enemy. Christ even said, love your enemy. How many people can actually manage this? We can repeat these expressions. But you see, the point I am more trying to make, that it's not so-called practice of virtues. There is no harm in it in trying different things, even to see where one fails in it or how one needs to cultivate something. But nevertheless, in the case of these people, what we are talking about, and I am now merely repeating this, to say that the Buddha was enlightened can have no meaning unless compassion is part and parcel of his being. Similarly in the case, so when we speak about becoming a son of God, just like Christ, is love oozing out of us? That's the direction that one needs to see. And here I want to first of all take a few more moments here to emphasize the importance of love. In the whole cosmic skein, really, some of you will know, one of our greatest poets in history, Dante, wrote this famous book called Divine Comedy, which actually begins, the opening lines in the Divine Comedy are, in the middle of my life, I found myself in dark woods. Anybody who is in the middle of their life, they know what they are talking about. In the middle of my life, I found myself in dark woods. That's the beginning canto, and the last canto I will now speak to you about. But before that, let me just take a moment to say, the whole Divine Comedy is actually the journey of his soul. And he enters into deeper and deeper hell, and also then higher and higher paradise, or higher and higher heaven. And at one stage he says, this is the highest heaven that he's allowed to come to. My own impression is that this is the highest heaven he can describe. Above that, even the great poet like Dante just can't describe it. But so the very last canto in the Divine Comedy is where he's describing the highest heaven. And this is what he says about it.

There my will and desire were one with love, the love that moves the sun and the other stars. It's a cosmological force. This is his description of the highest paradise that he's able to describe. That's my understanding. He says he's not allowed to visit the higher paradise. To make one historical comment, Dante is writing in the 13th century, by the 17th century, only one aspect of love, namely physical attraction, remains in the scientific theories now called gravitation, which becomes the cosmological force by which the sun and the other stars move. Actually, we have had historians of ideas even remarking on this. It's quite remarkable. For Dante, love is the cosmological force. But by the time of Newton and the whole subsequent science, only gravitation is the cosmological force. Later on, of course, through quantum mechanics and reality, we have other cosmological forces, but gravitation is still the major force. But that's a side note here, but I just want to more emphasize the importance of love as this is the 13th chapter of the first letter to the Corinthians by St. Paul. And I'm reading only a little part of it, but I highly recommend to you to read the whole of it. Actually, it's a remarkable chapter, a remarkable letter. If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I'm a resounding gong or a clashing symbol. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge, if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I'm nothing. If I give away everything I own and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing. If tongues, they will cease. If knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.

For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. So faith, hope, love remain these three. But the greatest of these is love. This is St. Paul. Letter to the Corinthians, first letter, here two letters to the Corinthians. It's the first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13. Please read it carefully because I don't know any other literature in the world which emphasized it so strongly. Here I should make another slight comment here.

The King James translation. By the way, this may be just a very personal note. I think the English have done so many terrible things in the world, but they will be forgiven for two major things. One is Shakespeare, the other is King James translation of the Bible, at least in my judgment. But in King James translation, what is used here as faith, hope, and love, they use the expression faith, hope, and charity. I mention this so that you realize how the language shifts. These days, if we use the word charity, nobody equates it with love.

But it's sometimes, this is one of the reasons why it's also important to not get so attached to some particular word or the other that was used, unless you're very careful what was the context of it, what language was used in what century, and what meaning it had. Some of you may have already heard me say, for example, Socrates makes this remark. Real philosophy can be done only in a state of eros. These days, the word eros doesn't have quite that meaning, of just love. I may have occasion later on to also say the similar changes, of course, take place in the Sanskrit, moving from one era to another.

Similarly, the word eros would be, the way it is used in the New Testament is almost completely negative. So other words are required. For example, agape and philia. In the Gospel of Philip, it's rather an interesting remark. Faith, which is pistis.

I should maybe also tell you, the word pistis actually means the same root from which we get the word epistemology, meaning knowledge. Faith is something actually based on knowledge. It's not meant to be. Similarly, whenever, just a quick reminder to you, periodically in the Gospels you read, some disciple or the other is very struck by something, and he would say, Lord, I love you. Hardly five sentences later or ten minutes later, they are no longer there.

Otherwise, they say, Lord, I believe. The word believe actually has the same root as the word to see, to recognize. If Christ is saying something or showing some miracle maybe, so they see something. But soon they forget. So the word believe doesn't mean what it has now ordinarily come to mean here.

It also has the same root as the word beloved. The reason I'm mentioning some of these things, because language shifts its meaning, and one can get so stuck about some of these things. They had a slightly different meaning earlier. So for example, faith, pistis, I mentioned this here in Greek, is receiving and love, agape, is giving. Love refuses nothing and takes nothing.

It is the highest and vastest freedom. All exists through love. This is the Gospel of Philip. So I'm partly trying to really invite you to consider that the whole teaching of Christ is almost as if love oozes out of his being. And he doesn't decide to love, which will be almost as if he could therefore not love, which would seem strange.

See, deciding means one can be this way or that way. But if it is part of my being, then it's not a question of this way or that way. That's what it is. So it's important to try to see that little minor distinction I'm trying to make. So then this is a remark from, as I have said earlier also, all the major commandments of Christ contain the word love in it.

And I will just mention two or three of them just to sort of emphasize this point. This is in Matthew, chapter 22nd. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it.

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. By the way, these two commandments are not original with Christ. These are in the Leviticus, for example, in what the Christians call the Old Testament. Rabbi Hillel, in fact, made this remark that these are the only two things one needs to keep in mind. Nothing else matters just to these two commandments.

And Rabbi Hillel is not a negligible rabbi. And he was very much emphasizing that if one can just keep these two commandments, that's all that one needs. But Christ is, again, a simple reminder. He was a Jew very much in the Jewish tradition. All his disciples were Jews.

It's only later on, partly for political reasons, there is a dissension between Jews and the Christians. That's a slightly different matter. Here is another quotation from Matthew, Chapter 5. I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Heavenly Father, for he makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. Be perfect, just as your Heavenly Father is perfect.

This is a very large call, as you can see. But again, a reminder, God is love. Here, this is what Christ is saying in a slightly different terminology. God doesn't decide not to love those who are enemies. For he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good.

And then this is from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 6. Love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the most high. For he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just your Father is merciful.

See the here word mercy comes, as I mentioned earlier. Sometimes in the same sentence or same paragraph, if same idea is being said in two or three different ways, you need slightly different translations, more or less the same words. But mercy, compassion, love are very close to each other. But here is again a reminder, what is Christ saying? You become children of the most high.

I know it somehow becomes in a way quite obvious, but it initially has to come from the non-canonical Gospel, almost as if it doesn't get emphasized. But I'm mostly quoting from the canonical Gospels here. Matthew, Luke, John, the call is for us to be brothers and sisters of Christ, children of God just like him. And then the possibility that an occasional person would rise further enough to become, as it were, unite with God or one with God. Then these various commands so far that I have mentioned were actually given in general.

But the next command is given explicitly only to his disciples. I give you a new commandment. Love one another as I have loved you, so you should also love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples. If you have love for one another, no one has greater love than this to lay down one's life for one's friends.

This is John chapter 13, partly in chapter 15, repeated. But this particular commandment he gave only to his disciples and to say that as I have loved you. Don't want to go into all the details here, but you can read in John's Gospel. He actually undertakes his crucifixion, or as he himself says, so that the paraclete or the more or less like the Holy Spirit can enter into his disciples and lead them to truth. So he's willing to undertake a sacrifice of himself for the sake of his friends or pupils or disciples.

He actually calls them friends by the end rather than initially servants or slaves, in fact, even a strong expression, slaves, servants, then friends, then to be his brothers. So that is the movement. Here again from John's Gospel, chapter 15, you are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you servants because this servant does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends because I have told you everything I have heard from my father.

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain so that whatever you ask the father in my name, he may give you. This I command you, love one another. Here, first of all, let me make a very simple statement in an ordinary life. Supposing you wish to study, let us say, at Harvard or at Princeton. So you apply, but to say that I chose Princeton or Harvard is not appropriate.

It's Princeton or Harvard that chooses you. But it is also true if you are really a good student, you may have offers from three or four of them. And then you choose which of these you go to. So in this case, what we are talking about is that periodically, maybe you all know this, I urge you to actually read the Gospels carefully yourself. Occasionally, even his disciples who have been very close to him don't understand what he's saying or they get completely mixed up or they are bewildered and even think they should just go away, they should leave.

And this is the kind of place where Christ makes this remark periodically, actually, more than once, that you didn't choose me, I chose you. And it's important to realize that in a way, of course, there is always some part to be played from our side. But more than once, I have actually tried to suggest that it is much more important that we are loved by God or by Christ or the Buddha than that we love Christ or God or Buddha. Because when we say, I love God, it's mostly imaginary. I don't know what God is, maybe I've heard something, I've read something, but that doesn't define what God can describe or clarify what God is.

If Christ or the Buddha can't describe what God is, how can I know what God is? But the suggestion very much that if I am loved from a being or a character or something from a higher level, then it naturally calls me to something. So it's much more important that I am loved by Christ or by God than that I love Christ or God. In fact, St. Paul even explicitly says in that very letter that I mentioned, the letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13, he says, when I was young, I spoke like a young person, when I grow up later, then I will be known. You see, that is the more important part, that I am known from the other side and therefore given what I need.

Otherwise, I imagine I need this, I'm asking for this. I don't really know what I need. So it's quite important to try to understand if you encounter somebody for whom you actually naturally feel a sense of respect, to allow them to see you, to know you is much more important than that I see them. And then this is one of the tragedies that we have. I found this even in my own case.

Meeting some of these people is like going to a doctor because something is not right with you and then making sure that he doesn't find out what's right or what's wrong with you. It's quite ironic, but you have to realize, look at your own situation, your own life. How willing are we to, as it were, be exposing ourselves to people whose guidance or respect or guidance or help we need? We might even imagine that we need the help or the guidance, but then one wants to cover oneself up. But this is also important to understand here that Christ's love is hardly sentimental love.

This is what he said. Whoever I love, I reprove and chastise, be in earnest then and turn around. Here this expression turn around is again metanoia. It's sometimes translated then and repent. This is in Revelation chapter 3.

Also again and again very important to understand that there is, if you like, a sort of asymmetry in a disciple loving Christ and Christ loving a disciple. Here Christ said, I'm quoting this from Gospel of John chapter 14, whoever keeps the commandments that he has from me is the man who loves me and the man who loves me will be loved by my father. And I shall love him and reveal myself to him. This is, by the way, something very similar to what Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, I reveal myself to those whom I love. Not who loves me, but whom I love.

And the way, how do we know somebody loves Christ? Because they are willing to obey the commandments of Christ. This word obedience has now become very unfashionable in contemporary, especially among the young people. So let me remind you, the word obedience actually comes from Latin obe or dir, having heard carefully. If I have actually heard something really carefully, then one naturally obeys.

Obey doesn't mean the kind of contemporary usage of this word. It really means to correspond to what I have heard carefully. So Christ's remark, whoever keeps the commandments, sometimes it is translated as whoever obeys the commandments that he has from me is the man who loves me. And the man who loves me will be loved by my father and I shall love him and reveal myself to him. In fact, only once in all the four Gospels, in fact, even the non-chronical gospel, only once, Christ actually says, I love God.

In general, he always says, I obey God. And even that once when he says it, it is in the very next sentences, because I obey his commandments. Here is again, this is from John chapter 15. As the father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love and you will dwell in my love.

If you keep my commandments. Just as I have kept my father's commandments and dwelt in his love, this I have said to you so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love each other as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to give his life for those he loves. So very strong suggestion that love of Christ for the disciples is a slightly different quality, different meaning almost than the love of the disciples for Christ.

Here again I quote, this is several times in John's gospel. This is already quoted from chapter 13, 15. Now this is from 14. Jesus said, whoever loves me will keep my word and my father will love him. And we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.

Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. Yet the word you hear is not mine, but that of the father who sent me. He's not promoting himself. This is another thing which I find very weird. Often there is a whole strong tendency as if a fully human Jesus Christ is becoming God and promoting himself.

This is hardly the thing. He's always repeatedly saying, I do nothing on my own. I say only what my father in heaven tells me to say. I'm not the author of the words I say. Even very strong remarks.

And hear this remark again here. But there is a very strong remark again and again that he actually dwells in those disciples who follow his commandments, just as the father dwells in him. And here this is the reason I was reading here. So let me come back to this whole idea again and again that it is to say God is love is a very strong statement. And Christ becoming one with God is therefore one with love.

It's not a question of him deciding to love, whether it's somebody who opposes him or is his enemy or not. This is what he's actually recommending to his disciples if they would follow him. And it's one of the way I try to suggest occasionally you just think about this in the ordinary life. If a father says to a son, I love you. And if the son says to the father, I love you.

Do they mean the same thing? When a father says to the son, not only says, but if he feels that, clearly he or mother could say, we don't have to use the word father here. Literally, what does that mean? That they are responsible for making sure that he has good diet, good education, good place, that they will take responsibility for the maintenance of his whole life. But when a son says, Dad, I love you, he's recently just been given some lollipop and he thinks it's a good idea.

So he says, Father, yeah, I love you. He's not taking care of the father or the son, maybe later on in life if he's actually loving them. But I think we need to understand that the same word, love can be used at a variety of levels. In fact, in general, in the social situation, it's just sexual love which is used for love. I actually remind people here, these figures are in the USA, but likely throughout the world now, increasingly, almost 50% of the people who say, this is the one person I love and I can't live without her or him, three years later, 50% of them say, this is the one person I cannot live with.

Anybody else will do. These are the figures in the USA. Within three years, 50% people. So I think the word love can mean obviously many things at many levels. In general, it's essentially more or less begins as a sexual enterprise, then sometimes it can change into something else.

In fact, one of the reasons I suggest sometimes to people that the whole idea, I know most people from the West get upset by even the suggestion that in India there are arranged marriages. There the whole idea is that you marry first in order to propagate human beings, then you may fall in love. Here people is the other way around. You fall in love first, then you may marry. It's the other way around.

But even in the royal families, they have to have arranged marriages for the simple reason that this is how you find out what is the right kind of person for you. Your own judgment is very much fouled by mostly bisexual-driven energies. But if your parents or uncles or others are trying to arrange it, they will find the right suitable person with the right education, right background, et cetera. And it's rather striking in India now, of course, largely Western influence, especially in big cities like Mumbai or Delhi, more and more so-called love marriages. And in general, they don't last for more than a few years, so-called arranged marriages.

Sometimes, of course, they lead to misery also, one has to not try to fantasize one way or the other. But it is true that many of them, in fact, start with marriage and fall in love rather than the other way around. Start with love and may marry. So it's a different enterprise.


Let me suggest a couple of little exercises if you are willing to.

Do you see any difference in the practical meaning of love in different contexts? I just mentioned the kind of different contexts. Father loving the son and the son saying to the father that I love you. But to try to, I mean, there is Dante saying, this is a cosmological force. Or the first letter of John saying God is love.

So, I mean, we are talking about so many different levels of the same word love is being used. And so, first exercise is do you see any difference in the practical meaning of love in different contexts? Secondly, if you have ever strongly felt that you love Christ or Krishna or God and also that Christ loves you, what is the difference in the implied feelings and actions on your side? If I say I love God or I love Christ or Krishna, what action corresponds to this? This is really my own impression, certainly from my perspective, since self-knowledge or self-awareness is the fundamental requirement for any kind of spiritual journey, these exercises that I am suggesting are really meant for your own self-inquiry.

Not to prove anything to anybody else. You are not submitting them to me. You are welcome to send them to me if you like, but I am not requiring this. They will require more work on my side. No, but this is really meant to enhance your own self-awareness, self-inquiry.

And because one can live in all kinds of fantasies, so dedicated to this or that, all that is true. But what is the action that corresponds to us loving God, for example? Okay, I think we need to stop now. Thank you very much.


Kate M
3 people like this.
For me, the action that corresponds to me loving God is total surrender - an opening to allow God-as-Love to flow through me and into the world. As Krishna says, to be "the mere instrument"... 
Caroline S
I am struck by the fact that as a Greek speaker I didn't know that faith - pistis, is receiving and love - agapi, is giving - which goes to show that we get so stuck in a particular usage of a word in our world / culture and cannot see beyond it.  Thank you so much for this guiding principle which was strongly brought to me by these two words here

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