Hazrat Inayat: Love in Religion

The power of love is seen in all things, and in whatever form it acts it shows a great virtue. And one does not always know what power love has behind it, that there is nothing in the world more powerful than love. Think of the hen with its little chicks: when they are so young that they seek her protection, if the horse came, if the elephant came she would fight in defense.

How man has abused the word ‘love,’ how he uses the word ‘love’ in his false pretences! Man has made a false world and he is so absorbed in it that he cannot see the reality. It is for this that the saints and the sages and the up-raisers of mankind have been sent from time to time, because man is in a dream and cannot awake from it. And of what does he dream? He dreams of this false world that he has created.

And 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, where do all these virtues come from? Are they not all  made of love? They are different forms of love. That shows that there is only one stream and that is love, and all different virtues that man knows, they are all different drops falling from the stream in different directions. We can find among all different people the idea in different ways of right and wrong, good and bad, but in love we all unite, whether from east or south or west or north, for no-one who is thoughtful will argue 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 is that which is wrong.

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 pretence, that men absorbed in selfishness, by this pretence wanted to cause bloodshed.

And if there ever has been an 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 the 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 forgiving, there was always a stream of love which purified.

If humanity had followed the idea of forgiveness and of tolerance, the world would not have come to the condition it has today. The hatred and prejudice and bitterness that exists to-day between nations is beyond words to explain. It seems that man has now the possession of religion, 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 people may make a thousand different schemes to make the conditions better, and every effort 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, that has been buried in the heart of man. There are 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. All the different forms, of religious service and of prayer, what secret is there behind them? The secret is to prepare the heart for that bliss which only love 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 Allah, who says: “Koran, 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.

Life in the world is as difficult for the rich as for the poor. A world such as this, made by falsehood, has its continual blows, which a person of good heart has to withstand. There is only one safety from these blows that might destroy the heart all together: 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? For if there is intolerance, then there must be a continual reciprocity, the giving and taking of intolerance. It means killing the element of love and giving life to the element which is death itself.

If there is any inspiration, any revelation, that also is attained by a loving heart. Life’s purpose is to make use of this shrine which is the human heart and which was made for God. 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 the only worthy ideal, the ideal of love, that heart has not yet attained its purpose. If a person says: “I love God, but I do not love mankind,” that expression 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 forget himself in love, expressing it as respect, tolerance, forgiveness, does not know religion.

Of course this is the first step, that one loves those one meets on the earth. Someone asked a great teacher if he would initiate him in mysticism. The teacher answered: “Young man, have you ever loved?” The young man said, “I have not.” The teacher said, “Then go and love first. Then come to me; that is the second step.”

No doubt the love of a human being that is not progressive and has not developed the love of God, is not yet perfect, for love is for the real Beloved, Who deserves it and alone deserves it. As children learn the lesson of home life by playing with the doll, so the soul learns in human love and completes its study in the love of God.

The love of God 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 the manifestation of love and the manifestation of God is purposed to realize the perfection of love.

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