What is the difference between pure Love and love that is bound by personal attachments?
The scriptures tell us that God manifests in this world as eight qualities: love, peace, joy, calmness, wisdom, light, sound, and power.
Because we, too, are manifestations of the divine, these qualities are aspects of our nature. Thus, love is not something foreign to us, that we must learn; it is what we are.
When a group from the Ananda community in America visited the great saint Anandamoy Ma, one of them said, “There are many of us in America who love you, Ma.”
Her answer was rooted in impersonal wisdom: “There is no love but God’s love.”
However, the divine love in us is different from love we usually express, which is based on the likes and dislikes of the ego.
Divine love is unconditional. Whoever comes before the Divine – whether ugly, beautiful, cruel, or kind – receives the same all-accepting love.
Paramhansa Yogananda told a disciple, “Remember, God loves you just as much as He loves me. He is our common Father.”
On the other hand, love that is based in our likes and dislikes is conditional:
“I love you because you are beautiful.”
“I love you because you are kind.”
“I love you because you love me.”
“I love you because you are the child who grew inside me.”
These reasons for loving aren’t wrong. But they are not the same as divine love, which gives itself simply because it is its nature. This is the love of the saints.
If the beautiful person we married becomes ugly, our love may fade or disappear, insofar as our love was based on physical attraction.
If a loved one betrays us, our love may vanish, if it was based on that person’s kindness to us.
Fortunately, it is not a question of “either-or.” It is not a question of “love or attachment.” It is a question of degree.
It is not easy to learn to love others as God loves us. In his compassion for us, God helps us learn to love, over a long time. At first, he awakens our love by making other people attractive to us. Then He may change those conditions to see if we will find a deeper, more selfless, ultimately more satisfying kind of love in our hearts.
Unconditional love is selfless and fearless. It wants what is best for the beloved. Sometimes a stern response may be the most appropriate expression of love. A mother who can’t bear to hear her children cry does them no favors by not disciplining them. To avoid acting for the highest good of another isn’t true love. It is cowardice.
Can we, in time, develop more unconditional love? Of course! But it takes continuous, heroic effort.
How can we grow toward God’s unconditional love? How can we find that love, which is hidden in our hearts? By going forward step by step. It takes courage to set out on the road toward unconditional love.
But we really have no choice. Life conspires to teach us to love. Love is our nature, and it will not be denied. Better to embrace the journey, than to be dragged kicking and screaming to the goal.