Love - Human and Divine

Not too many people really know what love is, even though everyone certainly wants and needs what they think it is. Studies have shown that baby monkeys who have been taken away from their mothers and deprived of fondling and affection become severely depressed and die. Unfortunately, there are people too who never feel the warmth of another human being, and who become antisocial or worse as a consequence. So there must be something within all of us that requires what we term "love" from other people. Presumably, the human brain was wired to form positive attachments to parents, friends, and mates. As social beings in a hostile world, that would be a necessity for survival. We have to rely on each other, and bonding ensures that someone cares enough to be there. So, the inclination to want to take care of others ultimately benefits ourselves. In this seemingly selfish context, then, what is love? What is it that we all crave?

When we love, particularly the opposite gender, we expect pleasure, whether in companionship, the sense of security, sexual stimulation, or fun. When the element of pleasure is replaced by disappointment or pain, what we experience as love withers. Love is usually sense dependent, and because love gives us security and pleasure, we seek out those people who can provide it for us. Not that we don't reciprocate. We give love to those who love us because it too feels good and ensures that the bond prevails. In some cases, the people we love (or hate) have known us before our present incarnation. These could be termed "soulmates" if we've had a history of close relations with them. As the Indian Avatar Sathya Sai Baba often pointed out, our minds are merely the accumulation of our sensory inputs, and at the subconscious level, those inputs have accumulated over our previous lives causing "vasanas", or tendencies. When a soulmate is encountered, the sense of security and pleasure are automatically heightened by subconscious memories of past-life experiences. In other words, we react to the vasanas that we associate with them. When we encounter people who made a negative impact on us, we automatically recoil.

The desire to return to earth to experience the joy of human love with a soulmate is probably very powerful. But, as Sai Baba pointed out, it's the attachment to people and things that strengthens the bonds of karma, so that even positive experiences with another person can add to the karmic load we have to bear. Yet, forming attachments to people is natural and healthy. Those who can't or won't feel any attachment to others are typically labeled dysfunctional, and such inability to love is usually the result of traumatic upbringing or past-life events. As Sai Baba said, "The person with no love to share is as bad as dead." So for most people, love is a natural emotion that results in an attachment to people, and sometimes even things or experiences if they bring pleasure. These attachments help to convince the mind that the sense of self is worthy and important. That sense of self is the ego and the ego is the delusion that our real self is our personality and body. So what we typically call love is in many cases merely ego gratification at its core. Such love may range from sexual passion to tender affection, but all are ultimately attachments. Not that the emotion of love isn't real or even positive, since it's a necessity for human psychological health, but like all ego functions, it doesn't always remain the same over time. Attachments change in their intensity, quality, and objective. Today's torrential flow of passion can be tomorrow's trickle. This kind of love, then, is transitory in the long run.

Why, then, do we have that powerful emotion we call love? We know it can lead us away from the spiritual path if we get wrapped up in sensual pleasure, and when turned around, it can be the equally powerful emotion of hate. Well, we know that our purpose on earth is to learn unconditional love, which is decidedly unemotional. In fact, we can learn to love anyone unconditionally without getting emotionally involved. But lack of emotion doesn't mean lack of caring. The equanimity that comes from surrendering to God can help us love without having an emotional stake in someone. So that emotion we reserve for some types of love is ego attachment, whereas unconditional love demands nothing. As Mata Amritanandamayi (another Indian saint) says, love and force are incompatible, and when conditions are set on love, you're forcing it. The point is, if we didn't have the possibility of loving selfishly rather than unconditionally, we wouldn't have to learn the lesson. Selfish love is the obstacle we have to overcome in order to learn unselfish love. It's another way to remove the ego. It's like good and evil. Sai Baba said, "Both good and evil have the right to exist. The evil has to be used for the purpose for which it is suited." Selfish love, the ego kind, has a right to exist because it too serves a purpose. Just as evil contrasts with good1 selfish love is the standard by which we can know what unselfish love is.

So what are the consequences of finding a special soulmate for the evolution of the real Self, the Atma or soul? We all know that whatever binds us to the existence we have on earth will result in our returning for even more births. Having a soulmate we passionately want to share our lives with can mean more karmic debt as surely as our having done evil to others. Yet, life would surely be a lonely and unsatisfying existence if we, who require emotional love for psychological health, never find it. So what is the solution to the dilemma?

Sal Baba always said that detachment is the solution to our craving for sensory pleasures. And the only attachment that never changes and always provides bliss is devotion to God. Filling one's heart with a yearning for God is, according to Sai Baba, the fastest and easiest road to liberation. But not many people are willing or able to give up attachment to loved ones as the price of attaching themselves to God. The knowledge one acquires by doing so, by knowing God, however, is that there never was a you and your loved one. You were both one and the same in God. Most of us, however, will always remain attached to those we love, and will generate karma anyway. In fact, Sai Baba said you can't stop karma, or activity, even if you try. As he says, "Karma has to be done, there is no turning away." And love is an activity. But as Sai Baba said, "The art of engaging in karma without getting involved in karma is the thing that has to be learned. Karma has to be done because it is part of one's nature, not out of any external compulsion." So how, if we must engage in karma, do we avoid karmic debt? How, if we find our special soulmate, do we avoid turning our love into a sentence of repeated incarcerations on earth?

The answer is by detachment, of course. But Sai Baba said, "...detachment does not imply renunciation of family ties and fleeing into the loneliness of the jungle. It means our giving up the feeling that things are permanent, and capable of yielding supreme joy." In other words, it's OK to love in a human way, since to do otherwise would bring us loneliness. It's just that we have to put relationships, like everything else, into perspective. Enjoy love and life with a soulmate in somewhat the same way you would enjoy a trip to an amusement park together. The experiences are fun, and sometimes scary, but you know they aren't real life and they don't last. We get to go home. He also said, "Remember, the sword of love has to be kept in the sheath of discrimination. The senses have to be rigorously controlled by discrimination and detachment... Detachment saves you from too much of attachment and injects a sense of relief at times of elation or despair." That is, detachment prevents you from getting wrapped around the axle over your emotions, which produces karmic debt. And he added, "Once man is free from undue attachment to the body and its appurtenances, he is also liberated from the pulls of joy-grief, good-bad, pleasure-pain, etc." So the answer is to enjoy the emotion of love you give and receive with your soulmates, but realize that the only true love, the only permanent love, is that of God. And since God is in all of us, we have to view everyone as divine by focusing on their spirit rather than emphasizing their human body and personality. Not that you can't enjoy the body and personality of someone you love, you just have to keep in mind that it's only a temporary form, even in this life. By focusing your attentions on spiritual matters, you can change your relationship from that of karmic to yogic. That is, as Sai Baba said, "It is dedication to the Lord that sanctifies all activities. In fact, karma becomes yoga when it is done without any attachment..." So, as Sai Baba's prescription for avoiding karmic debt, he said, "Sublimate the love you have for the pleasures of the world, for the objects of the world, into love for God."

So it isn't necessary to renounce the human emotion of love, and to live in some numb state of uncaring. Uncaring does not equal detachment. It merely takes the willingness to remember God, to leave the outcome of your activities, including love, to divine will, and to free one's self from expectations. Such a love between soulmates is purified of selfishness so that the love becomes unconditional. Of course, the ego is not happy with that idea, because it always expects gratification. But the cleanest, purest love, in the words of St. Paul, is that love which "... suffers long, and is kind..." He goes on in the famous I Corinthians to say,"... love envies not, love does not vaunt itself, is not puffed up.... Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails..." But we know egos fail, egos refuse to suffer the wounds others may give us, egos envy and puff themselves up, and egos will not endure and bear all things, hopes, and beliefs.

Such love as St. Paul wrote about is not the human emotion we normally associate with the word. To strive for such love is the way of the spiritual path. For the Greeks, human love is eros, while divine love, the love St. Paul wrote about, is agape. For Sai Baba, there is a distinction as well. He said, "Prema, or love, is a much-misused word. Any positive response to the attraction is called love, any feeling of attachment, however trivial or transitory is characterized as Prema. We must certainly coin new words or set aside specific words to indicate forms of love. The attachment of parents to their children or the children to the parents must be called affection. The response to the attraction of sex is best described as fancy, fascination, or delusion.... The feeling of kinship or comradeship evokes dearness. The pleasure one gets through the sense of possession, especially of material objects, can be known as satisfaction. The yearning to reach for the sublimity that lies inherent in truth- this alone is entitled to be called by that holy word, Prema."

So what is Prema? If not human emotion, what is it? Certainly it is unconditional, divine, love, but what is it if Sai Baba can say "God is love. Love is God"? He didn't say, God loves, or God has love. God IS love. It's an essence, not an emotion or feeling. He also says that "Love binds one person to another; Love attaches one thing to another. Without love, the universe is naught. Life is love, love is life." So Prema seems to be a sort of glue that holds the universe together and ultimately generates our very being.

We know from Hindu mythology that Brahman, the formless all that is, has the attributes of Shiva, or the male consciousness aspect, and Shakti, or the female energy aspect. Together, their love, or attraction to each other, produces a daughter, Maya, or the phenomenal universe. This marriage, truly made in heaven, has its counterpart in quantum physics. The very basis of physical reality is matter and energy. Matter arises from the so-called vacuum of space seemingly spontaneously. That vacuum is hardly empty, however, since it contains a field of intelligent energy. This energy, too subtle to detect by conventional means, has negative entropy properties. In other words, most energy tends to put systems into disorder, called entropy. Yet the universe, as chaos theory has demonstrated, is constantly becoming more orderly, more complex. The field of space also has the property of being holographic. Information can be transmitted instantaneously, so to speak, throughout the universe because information in one part of the universe is holographically contained in all the universe. So this field, sometimes called a scalar field, has energy that literally holds the universe together according to some kind of consciousness. If that sounds like Shiva and Shakti, then that's the idea. God, that which permeates the universe, is love, and love is the energy and consciousness that creates and holds the universe together. So what we experience as divine love is really subtle energy, called Prana in Sanskrit, or Chi in Chinese. The greater the impact this energy, or divine grace to put it another way, has on us, the more the consciousness of God is worked in and through us.

So how does human, emotional love fit into the universal scheme? The answer lies in your heart....Iiterally. In fact, the heart, and not the brain, really is the organ of love. A Dr. Glen Rein, using fast fournier transformation mathematics, converted an electrocardiogram of the heart into a frequency diagram, which had never been done before. The heart is much more electrically powerful than the brain, which is why heart activity must be screened out when doing an electroencephalogram on the brain. Rein found out that negative emotions such as unhappiness, anger, hatred, and jealousy generate chaotic, weak, high-frequency heartwave graphs. Positive emotions on the other hand, such as love, appreciation, gratitude, and compassion generate very orderly, low frequency, but quite powerful waves on the graph. This has more significance than just electrical activity. A model of the electromagnetic field of the heart shows a perfect, fractal, toroidal (donut) shape. According to Dr. Rein, such a shape is a subtle energy transducer, that is, it converts one form of energy into another because it generates an infinite number of harmonics allowing a step down or demodulation of higher energies. Energy travels through harmonics with no loss of power. What this means is that the subtle energy that makes up the universe is able to enter the heart, and thus the body, because the electrical properties of the heart create the proper harmonics to act sort of like a staircase to step down subtle energy and transduce it into electromagnetic energy that is usable to help sustain human life.

It turns out that only when the heart's electromagnetic field is coherent, which occurs when feelings of love and connectedness are present, can subtle energy come into the body in force. Negative emotions, on the other hand, disrupt the ability of divine energy to enter the body. What this means then, is that the human emotion of love is necessary for divine love, or grace, to work upon us. Love literally generates an open heart and connects us to Prema, or divine love. A chronically negative person, depressed, angry, guilt-ridden, anxious, or hateful, cuts off their own healing, healthful source of life energy by disordering and blocking their heartwaves. Their system tends towards entropy or destruction. Sai Baba said that divine grace is available to everyone, but only those who are open to God will receive it.

Loving a soulmate or anyone else, opens the heart to divine grace. When an old soulmate enters your life, it can be for the purpose of opening a wounded or troubled heart to divine energy or Prema. Your soulmate can be God's instrument for your salvation. By giving you love, your sense of self worth increases and you learn to trust. Yet, that has to be only the beginning. The world is full of the walking wounded. Many are the hearts that are scared over by abuse, abandonment, neglect, and cruelty. If we each chose to give love to someone who's heart is closed, we could help open them to divine grace. As Sai Baba said, "Let your love flow towards all; you have love, but now, it is distributed selfishly and sparingly." And he also says, "...Where there is love, there, God is certainly evident. Love more and more people, love them more and more intensely; transform the love into service; transform the service into worship; that is the highest sadhana. There is no living being without the spark of love; even a mad man loves something or somebody intensely. But you must recognize this love as but a reflection of the Premaswarupa (embodiment of love) that is your reality, of the God who is residing in your heart. Without that spring of love that bubbles in your heart, you will not be prompted to love at all." So, divine love seeks divine love, to join as the one essence it really is. Developing the capacity to love everyone without the emotions that can close your heart, such as judgment, fear, and hate, leaves the heart open all the time. The soul, or Atma, is a divine spark of subtle energy imbued with consciousness that has the capacity to look beyond the barrier of the ego to find itself in all things. All things ultimately are one, and as Sai Baba said, we are but waves upon the ocean. The energy we know of as emotional love is just the first step in opening the heart's gate to let the ocean of divine love engulf us. May we all be bathed in that divine love.


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