About love and law

Souls being melted in the fire of a love affair have sometimes taken comfort from a saying in Vadan, Talas. It begins, “Above law is love…”, and as such affairs often seem to inconveniently break the rules and conventions that govern our society, lovers, overwhelmed by floods of feeling, may feel justified (or at least excused) by this piece of wisdom. But as Hazrat Inayat Khan makes clear in his teaching on Divine Grace, posted here and here, there is a still wider application. It is not only human lovers whose hearts surge beyond all boundaries, but also the heart of God. That is the essence of grace: love that pays no attention to the rules.

But while we might feel optimistic when we think about the possibility of divine grace descending upon us unlooked for, since we are always open to unexpected bonuses, grace implies something we may not have considered about the Divine Presence. God is not a predictable ‘force’, such as we might describe in physics, but a living Being with complete liberty of action. As Hazrat Inayat notes, many people will proudly proclaim their own ‘free will,’ and yet discount the possibility that God is also free to choose. But if we are made in the image of God, then all our aspects must be reflections, however distorted or faint, of divine qualities. Therefore our free will, such as it is (and it is often much less than we suspect) is a reflection of the perfect freedom of the Divine will.

To truly recognise this freedom inevitably changes our relationship with God. If the divine is no more than law, we can behave as we perhaps do with human laws, such as traffic regulations, for example: sometimes we obey them, and sometimes we don’t, and if we aren’t immediately stopped and fined, then what harm can there be? But if the Divine, Who is omnipresent and omniscient, is also unpredictable, then our relationship can’t be taken for granted.

Nor can we hope to stay on good terms with God by faithfully observing the divine laws, although we should certainly do what is possible. We must admit that we are human, with unavoidable failings, and we will always fall short of the mark. Our salvation, therefore, must be in love, not in law, and that is why the saying in the Vadan concludes in this way : ‘above love is the Beloved.’

That is why the disciplining of ourselves is the first step, but the second step, the step which takes us to the goal, is to awaken in our hearts the love for the divine Beloved.

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