What a power is love! It is the most wonderful, the greatest of all living powers.
Throughout several of His discourses ‘Abdu’l-Bahá talks about love, explaining to us that all the Manifestations of God have brought us the message of love.
We learn that love is what we feel for our family, our friends and even our country. The Master explains that this love is limited, as it is not eternal and can cease to exist. At first the idea that the love that I have for my family is limited was hard to comprehend — isn’t it supposed to be the strongest type of love that I can feel? My understanding changed after reading the Master’s explanation that perfect love “can only be achieved by the power of the Divine Spirit”.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá clarifies that there are four kinds of love:
- The first is the love that flows from God to man
It is through this love that man was given physical existence, was created in the image of God, and, “through the breath of the Holy spirit”, was bestowed with an undying soul. This love is expressed in the eternal blessings that we receive from God. The Master states: “this love is the origin of all the love in the world of creation”.
Furthermore, it is because of God’s love for us that the divine Prophets were sent to the world and the Holy Books were revealed to humanity.
- The second is the love that flows from man to God
This love is “faith, is the attraction to the Divine […], progress, entrance into the Kingdom of God, [and] receiving the Bounties of God…”
This love allows man to reflect the divine qualities of God. This love is the reason for our creation and why we were conferred with “the unique distinction and capacity to know Him and love Him” — a capacity that is the “generating impulse and the primary purpose underlying the whole of creation”1. God does not need our love; when we love Him we are allowing His Love to reach us.
- The third is the love of God towards the Self or Identity
The love of God towards the identity of God is “the transfiguration of His Beauty, the reflection of Himself in the mirror of His Creation”.
This love is eternal and through this love all the other kinds of love exists. This love allows us to see God’s Qualities reflected in His Creation.
- The fourth is the love of man for man
The love that “exists between the hearts of believers is prompted by the ideal of the unity of spirits”. We can attain this kind of love through the knowledge of God: when we look at another human being and see the Beauty of God reflected in their soul it is possible to truly love one another.
Further, this love “will make all men the waves of one sea […] and the fruits of one tree” and will bring about true mutual understanding that, in turn, will bring forth real unity.
True love consists of these four kinds of love, and all of them originate from God. In order for true love to flourish, we first have to strive to know God and to fill our heart with His love.
1 Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh.
Paris Talks, “The Universal Love” and “The Four Kinds of Love”
Photo by Ryan Lash, www.flickr.com/departurelounge