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Volume VII - In an Eastern Rose Garden


Love, whether it is human or divine is considered to be sacred, in the view of the mystics, philosophers, and thinkers. That it is possible to regard it thus is shown by the fact that in its root it is beyond both the human and the divine. As it is written in the Bible, 'God is Love', three words which open up an unending realm for the thinker who desires to probe the depth of the secret of love.

In ordinary life, we make this word mean affection for our surroundings, for our relatives or our beloved, but when we think deeply about it, we see that from start to finish it represents the power underlying the power of all activities and all intelligences.

When we study life from the material standpoint, we see there are four different stages: the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the animal, and the human. And of these four domains it is said by a dervish, 'God slept in the mineral kingdom. He dreamed in the vegetable kingdom. He woke in the animal, and He realized Himself in the human.' And this gradual progression shows us that underlying it there is a sense of life, which has expressed itself in every step towards the completed development of love.

In the mineral kingdom we find no tendency towards love. But as the intelligence develops in the vegetable kingdom, we feel that sympathy is reflected from us into the flowers. The plants perceive and feel that which comes from us. A loving person may attend to plants and rear them and water them with love and sympathy, and they flourish. But in the hands of another it may not be so. If we only watched plants closely, we should see how much they feel our presence and our love. They flourish according to our love; the more love we give, the more fragrance, the more sweetness. Man is always working on farms and in gardens, thinking of them as material things, looking to see how plants can be improved by material means. If he could only believe it, there is a still higher means of helping them to grow, a spiritual means: the use of love and sympathy.

There is a story in the East of Puran Bhagat, who was once living in exile in the forest. After a long time, during which he had developed the true love in his thought and feeling and spirit, he returned to his country. The first thing he wished to do was to sit in his garden, which had gone to ruin during his absence. He went down to it in the guise of a sage, and began to water it with his little water bowl. The garden at once began to flourish, and in a short time it became such a miracle of beauty that everyone in the city began to talk about it and say, 'This must be some spiritual man, since the garden begins to grow and flourish.' The touch of the saints and sages and prophets makes things grow.

Every kind of power lies in this one thing which we call by the simple name: love. Charity, generosity, kindness, affection, endurance, tolerance, and patience – all these words are different aspects of one; they are different names of only one thing: love. Whether it is said, 'God is love,' or whatever name is given to it, all the names are the names of God; and yet every form of love, every name for love, has its own peculiar scope, has a peculiarity of its own. Love as kindness is one thing, love as tolerance is another, love as generosity is another, love as patience another; and yet from beginning to end it is just love. It is love's different manifestations in different directions which distinguish themselves differently and have different purposes.

According to Sufi metaphysics love has two different aspects, Jalal and Jamal; and each aspect of love has its peculiar sphere. The Jalal of love is the power of love. You may call it psychic power, will power, or power of mind; yet it is one power working through different channels. And this is the power of love; its power manifests and acts according to its force. Its force is greater when it is unlimited, and less when it is limited. That which is called imagination, thought, perception, conception, inspiration, and intuition, comes from the Jamal aspect of love.

In the third stage of evolution, which is called the animal kingdom, love is still more manifest. The animal is more capable of perceiving and feeling our love and kindness, our pleasure and displeasure. When we enter a house the dog may be delighted, or he may recognize our displeasure and feel depressed. Cats recognize our love, and so also do parrots and other pet animals of different kinds. Thus we see that the cat is vexed because another cat comes into the house, and we read how, when Joseph was in the well, it was a dog that brought him bread from a neighboring town, and fed him during the time that he was in the well. And in Arabian stories we hear about an Arab who was protected and guarded by his horse when he fell wounded on the battle-field; the horse became his protector.

In man love can develop still more, though sometimes man proves to be not only worse than animals, but even more dead to love than a rock. We would rather be with the rocks than with such a man. This is because he has developed selfishness with his evolution. He is more selfish than any other creature in the world, unless he wipes off the impression of selfishness from his heart.

It would be no exaggeration to say that the reason why a man cannot achieve occult and psychic power, and the intuitive and inspirational faculty, is because he has not developed the power of love; and this failure is caused by the selfishness which has kept him back from developing the power of love.

Man does not differ from the animals in his passions and emotions. The human being differs from the animal by his human qualities; these are not eating, drinking, or seeking his kind. Human qualities can only be developed by the development of love. Man has fought in all ages with his brother on account of differences of religion, differences of faith, differences of belief, differences of Church, differences of community, not knowing that each religion, each time it was given, has brought only a message of love, taking a different expression each time. It has been given in different ages and to different people; they have received it according to their evolution; and yet there has really been only the one teaching, that of developing love. 'Love your neighbor; love your fellow man; love your enemy', there has always been the same lesson given.

Christ told the fishermen to come, and he would make them fishers of men; that is to say, 'As fishes come into your net, so your heart full of love will become a net that will attract every man to it.' Rumi says, 'All who see me feel attracted to me, yet do not know what it is in me that attracts them'. Is it not the secret of the whole of life? If we could see to whom we are attracted in life, father, mother, sister, neighbor, or anybody that we feel drawn to, then it would seem to us to be a magnetic or psychic power. But there is no greater magnetic power than love. Its magnetic power is very great. It changes a person's voice, his heart, his manner, his form, his movement, his activity, everything becomes changed. What a difference between water and rock; that smoothness and that liquid state of being, the rise and fall of the surface of the water compared with the rigidity of the rock! The great teachers of humanity become streams of love. It is the first sign of the sage or holy man that he himself becomes love. His voice, his feeling, his presence, everything makes one realize that there is something open in him which we do not find in everybody; this something is his deep love.

The development of love is often hindered by different obstacles in life. The first obstacle is ourselves. We begin our life with selfishness, and all that we want is for self, and if there is a tendency to love, it is for one's own happiness, and one's own joy. When the question comes, 'How much do you love me, and how much do I love you?' it has come to be a trading in love. 'I love you, but you do not love me' is as much as to say, 'I have bid so much, and I expect a return of love'. This is trading in love, and trade cannot lead anywhere, because it makes one think of the self, and love is beyond that. To love is to give; it is not to take at all. The true lover never speaks of what he has done for his beloved, for he loves for love's sake, not for the sake of a return. If a person begins to love and makes it a love fed by the love of his beloved, then he seeks an impossible thing. If a person keeps waiting for the love of the beloved, he is bound to find that nature cannot grant that desire, unless both are traders in love. Then each takes the best of the other; each may think he loves, but neither truly loves.

Love teaches the lover patience, forbearance, gentleness, because he thinks, 'My beloved will be displeased; I will be as gentle as possible in my action and in my movements'. These thoughts are a correction to the lover. With every such thought that passes in the life of the lover he corrects himself. Hope is the only thing in life which keeps us alive, because it feeds on love. Patience is fed by love. We can never have patience with anybody without love. How valuable is patience! As it is said in the Quran, 'Allah loves the patient'.

Another hindrance to love is its dependence on the beauty of the ideal, be it physical beauty, beauty of thought, of character, or of personality. Whatever beauty it may be, whenever love depends for its continuance or for its existence upon the beauty of its object, it must some day fail. Therefore true love does not regard the body, the external object; in point of fact love prepares its own ideal. For when a person says, 'O, I have loved you for your beauty', what will he say when youth has gone and the beauty is lost? Where will the love be then? The love will change too. And if love has gone with the passing of the beauty of the object of its love, what then? Another may say, 'O, I love you for your personality', and yet perhaps within a month the beloved may not show the same personality, the same attractive goodness. What then?

We think a flower is a fleeting thing, so soon does it change; and yet the human heart is liable to a quicker change than even the flower. A person may be very good one moment, very kind; and the next moment the contrary; calm one moment, and then restless; at one time so affectionate, at another indifferent; all according to the state of mind in which he happens to be at the time. So it cannot last if it is allowed to depend on the beauty of the ideal; such love is dependent and would sooner or later die. That is why so many hearts cannot keep the flame of love alive in them.

Often it happens that lovers grow cold just from lack of understanding that love must not be for an external ideal, but that the lover has to prepare the ideal in himself; they have failed to make the self-sufficient love within themselves. Not so the sages, the holy men, the wise ones. They know that a person who is kind today can be the contrary tomorrow. Therefore the wise lover expects both opposites in the external and inner beauty of the beloved.

Those who have developed the ideal love within themselves by the aid of an object to love, transform their nature into a more and more loving one in time. Their love for a certain person is akin to learning the abc, for by learning the abc one comes to be able to read not only the primer, but any book. By learning to love one, we gain a light, a torch, by the light of which we can read all things in life; it is as if in our nature we have developed something that we can give to everyone.

In the East there is a saying, 'A loving son is always a loving husband'. This is a true philosophy. It teaches the fact that he who has known from the beginning of life what love means, has laid the foundation of a whole life of being truly loving. A person who is faithful and kind to one friend can be kind to all, acquaintances, servants, neighbors, and strangers alike, because he has developed that quality. But when people pretend to love they are kind to one and bitter to another. This shows that they are not really lovers. The real lover will show his kindness, gentleness, sympathy, all aspects of love, to everyone he meets.

When one thinks about occult powers, such as knowing the condition of other people's minds, their pleasure and displeasure, also the joy and pain of another's heart, knowing what is going on at a distance, receiving news from far away in the world, we find that all these can be gained without study, just through the power of love. It is all so easy and simple to one who loves. The traders with love cannot know this. The real lover will know such things without special meditation or concentration, for what can exert a greater concentration than love? If one's thoughts are scattered over pianos, chairs, tables, jewels, dress, one cannot understand such power; but if one has true interest in an ideal, the power is there before one seeks it.

Therefore all occult and psychic power is the power of love. But it is not only a matter of love for a living person. There is a love of art, of science, of music, of poetry, of all the different aspects of beauty. Love in every direction shows one the sublime vision of the beautiful. It is those who have loved the beauty of poetry who are able to enjoy its beauty and to express it to others; those who have love of music are enabled to give their music to the world and attract the lovers of music, as well as being able to enjoy its beauty themselves. Love's power ever shows its magnetism afresh through all the ages.

But love in its higher sense teaches us that there is a love, an object, a beloved that can last with us and prove satisfactory, compared with which there is nothing in life worthy of all our love; and that one object is God. But among those who say, 'O yes, I love God', very few tell the truth; very often that is a false pretense. How can we love the formless and colorless? It is impossible to love one whom we cannot confine within any particular beauty. It is only those who pretend to be spiritual because they are godly and pious towards those of their own sect that say, 'We love God'. It is as absurd to say this as to say to a beloved, 'O beloved, I love you very much, but I do not like looking at your face'. For God says, 'I have made man in My own image'. When man is prejudiced against man and still says, 'I love God', how can God be pleased with that kind of love? How can that be true love for God which refuses to see the beauty that is before it? If God said, 'If you wish to see Me, see Me in the face of man; that is My own image' this would show what true love is. Also, if a person claiming to love an artist were to say to him, 'I love you very much, but I cannot bear to look at your picture', what kind of love could that be? The artist has given all his soul and life to that art; his very self has, so to speak, become art, and his whole satisfaction lies in our appreciation of his art. How can those claim to love the Creator who do not love what He has created? For God could never have become known had there been no manifestation. So he who does not find sufficient beauty to admire in His manifestation cannot pretend to love God.

So, too, if someone limits his love to a single object, saying, 'I only love this and there is nothing else I need', surely he has not the right kind of love either. True love is limitless. Though it begins by being limited in such a way, yet it progresses and some day breaks out. Such a thing is constantly happening in life, but people do not understand the psychic law which underlies it. Eastern people say, when someone loves another person intensely and does not care for anyone else, 'There will be some mishap there some day'. There is always some breakdown, some danger waiting, some trouble in the future, when love is not allowed to flow freely and is limited. The Japanese and Chinese have called God jealous, because He does not allow two persons to be devoted only to each other. God cannot tolerate this narrowing of love. If one tried to put the whole sea into a little jar, the sea would break it. The sea of love breaks its limited channel. To speak of the jealous God means that the unlimited force of love cannot allow its expression to be directed towards one limited object. That is why the love of God alone is the culmination of love, for love is as vast as God. Verily, love itself is God.

There is a beautiful story which has been dramatized and acted in India for hundreds of years; the people never get tired of seeing it, so it is acted even today. It is called 'The Court of Indra'. Indra is the God of Heaven. His court is made up of Devas and Paris. The latter dance in the court, the Devas are to attend the pleasure of Indra. No earthly creature is ever allowed to enter, nothing of the earth is ever seen or allowed in the court of Indra. Once a Pari, the Green Pari, happened to fly to the surface of the earth, and she saw a prince of that country over which she was flying, whose beauty charmed her so much that she thought that if she could in some way or other take him to her high dwellings, she would be happy. She told one of the Devas about it, and he carried away Gulfam, the Prince, while he was asleep. He wakes up, and finds himself in a strange place, and breathing a different air. After great bewilderment he sees a Pari, a creature much more beautiful than the creatures of the earth. He looks at her and asks her how he comes to be there. She tells him he is in Indra Loka, that she loves him and will be happy to keep him there. 'I will do anything for your happiness', she says.

Gulfam forgets all about his kingdom, and lives with the Pari, most happy in her love. Every day she has to leave him to be at her duty, and every day she returns, never saying where she has been. This arouses his curiosity, but still she will not tell where she goes and what she does. Finally she does tell him that she has to dance before Indra every day. Then he wants to go and see. She expostulates, but at length consents to take him. She keeps him behind her, and hopes to conceal him with her wings as she dances before Indra. But one of the Devas sees him and tells Indra, who for a long time will not believe it possible that a human being could be in his court. Then he discovers him, and pronounces a curse upon him, while the Pari is to be banished until she has undergone the successive stages of purification through earth, water, fire, air, and ether. Not till then can she be allowed to enter the heavens again.

This story shows that in the highest dwellings, in that sphere which is Indra Loka where love conquers man, the King is Indra, the perfection of beauty. The highest love must be for God; it belongs to Him. In its development love should aim at that idea. The Pari is the human soul, Gulfam is the human body. The soul which is heavenly becomes interested in this earthly body; but when by the power of love it comes from the earth to the heavenly sphere, it brings to heaven an object which is destined only for the earth. The love of a limited being is not allowed to remain in heaven, and will be condemned to be purified and uplifted until it can nevermore find satisfaction in a limited object, in the love for a human being. Homage must be paid to the Lord of Heaven. True love must have free flow; and to learn that free flow the teachers have taught us first to love from the limited, and thence to advance in love till we attain to the love of God, the Unlimited.

checked 18-Oct-2005