(To be read at the Service of Universal Worship)
Religious Gatheka Number 44
The power of love is seen in all things, and in whatever form it acts, it shows in it a great virtue. And one does not know always what power love has behind it, that there is nothing in the world which is more powerful than love. Think of the hen with its little chickens. At the time when they are so young that they seek her protection, if the horse came, if the elephant came she would fight in defense.
And how man has abused the word: love; how he uses in his false pretenses the word, love! What happens is that man has made a false world and in this false world he is so absorbed that he cannot see the reality. It is for this that the saints and the sages and the upraisers of mankind have been sent from time to time, because he is in a dream and he cannot awake from it. And of what does he dream? He dreams of this false world that he has created.
What is religion? Religion is what breaks away the barriers of falsehood and shows man, guides man toward the truth. What we call kindness, helpfulness, gentleness, meekness, or humility, what do all these virtues come from? Are they all not made of love? They are different forms of love. That shows that there is only one stream of virtue and that is love; and all different virtues that man knows, they are all different drops falling in different directions. And the idea of right and wrong good and bad, we can find among all different people in different ways, but in love we all unite, whether from East or South, or West or North, for none who is thoughtful will argue on the question that cruelty is virtue and kindness a sin. Therefore from the point of view of love, we can all unite in one conception of good and bad, of right and wrong. All that is guided by the principle of love has its virtue and all that is done by coldness, it is that which is wrong.
And when we think of the condition through which humanity has passed in all different times – in the name of religion there have been wars and battles – one wonders if it was taught by the religion. Not at all, religion was the pretense that men by this pretense wanted to cause bloodshed, absorbed in selfishness. And if ever there has been a kind of accusation against any religion in the world, it is not against the religion, it is against the misunderstanding of that religion by the followers of that religion.
Think of the life of the great Master Jesus Christ who was the soul of religion – one sees that from beginning to end there was nothing but love and forgiveness. The best expression of love is that love which is expressed in forgiveness. Those who came with their wrongs, errors, imperfections, before the love, that was all forgiven; there was always a stream of love which always purified.
If one had followed the idea of forgiveness and of tolerance, humanity would not have come to the condition to which it has come today. The hatred and prejudice and bitterness that exists today between nations is beyond words to explain. And if there were one religion or a thousand religions, if that were to go on, one still doubts if there be a religion. It seems that man has now the profession of it, but what is needed is to live it. Why is humanity not coming together more? It is the lack of tolerance, the lack of forgiveness, it is the lack of love. And there may be a thousand different schemes that people will make in order to make the conditions better, and every effort made in that direction is worthwhile, but at the same time there remains a question what effort would be most worthwhile. It is the waking of the divine spirit which is called love, which has been buried in the heart of man.
There are many political institutions, social institutions, and moral institutions, but what is most necessary today is the wakening of the religion of the heart. It does not matter what religion they profess if they know the depth of the religion, which is love. And then, all the different forms, the forms of religious service and the forms of prayer, behind them what secret is there? The secret is to prepare the heart of that bliss which love only can give.
The school of the Sufis, in whatever age, has been the school of the mystics. Its religion has been the religion of the heart, and it is therefore that there is a verse of Abul Ala, who says, 'Quran, the Bible, or a martyr's bone, all these my heart can tolerate, since my religion is love alone.' For the religion of love is the religion of tolerance, the religion of love is the religion of forgiveness.
The life in the world is such that it is as difficult for the rich as for the poor. A world such as this, made by falsehood, has its blows, continual blows, that a person of good heart has to stand. And there is only one safety from all these blows that might destroy the heart altogether, it is to learn how to tolerate, to learn how to forgive. For everyone says or does or thinks only according to his own particular evolution, and he cannot do better. Why not, therefore tolerate? Why not, therefore, forgive? And if there is intolerance, then there must be a continual reciprocity, it is giving and taking intolerance. It means killing the element of love and giving life to the element which is death itself.
And if there is any inspiration, any revelation, that also is attained by a loving heart. The life's purpose is to make use of this shrine which is the human heart and which was made for God. And if there is a shrine and no God, the shrine is purposeless. And if there is a heart and the heart has not yet attained to that ideal, the only ideal which is worthy of love, that heart has not yet attained its purpose.
But no doubt it can be worthless if a person says, 'I love God, but I do not love mankind.' That profession is worthless. It is like saying, 'Friend, I love you very much, but I cannot look at your face.' The creation is the manifestation of God. It is in the art of the artist that we recognize him. If we refuse to acknowledge the art, we do not know the artist. The man who does not express his love, who does not forget himself in love, expressing it as a respect, tolerance, forgiveness, does not know religion.
Of course this is the first step, that one loves those one meets on the surface of the earth. Someone asked a great teacher if he would initiate him in mysticism. The great teacher answered, 'Young man, have you ever loved?' The young man said, 'I have not.' The great teacher said, 'Then go and love first, then come to me, that is the second step.'
No doubt the love of the human being which is not progressive and has not developed to the love of God, is not yet perfect. For love, is for the real Beloved, Who really deserves it and Who alone deserves it. As children learn the lesson of home life by playing with the doll so the soul that learns, he learns in human love and completes his study in the love of God. And the love of God is that which is the purpose of the whole creation, and if that were not the purpose, the creation would not have taken place. As the whole creation is from God, then it is of God. If it is of God, then it is the manifestation of love, and the the purpose of manifestation of God is to realize the perfection of love.