I D Soni
Love is by claim the most interesting of all forms of human experience. Everyone wants to be happy, and yet there are only a few people who are able to experience this feeling and know the secret of true happiness. It is love; ‘love in all its ramifications’: Love between lover and beloved, children and parents, brother and sister, between neighbours and friends, between the teacher and the student, master and servant, man and God. Love is the repository of happiness, if only it is practised without any ulterior motive. Shelley says, “All love is sweet given or returned”. The Bible says the same thing in different words, that is, he who loves is twice blessed. It means he who makes the other man happy by loving, also himself feels happy for having loved.
Love fills a person with noble feelings: compassion, sacrifice, sympathy, understanding, welfare, tenderness, and sweetness.
If there is love between neighbours, peace will reign in the neighbourhood. People will willingly and cheerfully come forward to help each other and share each other’s joys and sorrows. Nobody will wish anyone ill and nobody will want to do any harm to anyone.
Everything ideal has a natural basis, and every-thing natural has an ideal development. It was love’s philosopher, Plato who said, “He whom love touches not, walks in darkness”. Laplace, dying, rebuked the friends who tried to console him with the fame of his discoveries and his books; these, he told them sadly, were not the important things in life. “What then”? they asked. And the old scientist, fighting for one more breath, answered, “Love”.
All things must die, but love alone eludes mortality. How brief it seems in the bitterness of disillusion; and yet how perennial it is in the perspective of mankind – how in the end it saves a bit of us from decay, and enshrines our life anew in the youth and vigor of the child! Our wealth is a weariness and our wisdom is a little light that chills; but love warms the heart with unspeakable solace, even more when it is given than when it is received.
There have been saints who widened the horizon of their love and made it universal. They loved not only their parents, relatives and near and dear ones, but the whole mankind, even animals and birds. This universal love made them suffer on account of others. Jesus Christ, Gautam Buddha, Guru Nanak Dev, Kabir, Tukaram, and Ramprasad, shared the agony of others, felt sorry for the suffering humanity and worked for the welfare and happiness of all. Love is an attribute which turns a human being into a saint. Mother Teresa’s love for humanity impelled her to serve and look after the suffering destitutes, with care and compassion. She filled many hearts with happiness by her altruistic service of suffering humanity.
If love could be adopted as the guiding principle, there would be no quarrels. There would be no sense of hatred between men and men. There would be no friction between parents and children, no bitterness between friends and no exploitation of man by man.
Lack of love in a child’s life can play havoc with his personality and mental make-up. It can either load him towards self-destructive suicidal thoughts, or put him on a track of hatred and cruelty towards other human beings. Therefore, lack of love makes not only the life of that particular child bitter and hellish, but it also breeds further unhappiness when he, having grown up into a ruthless individual full of hatred for others.
Love alone can alleviate many ills of the society and is undoubtedly the basis of happy life. Because love begets love. Love conquers all things. Love casts out fear and frees us from bondage to it. Love casts out fear of disease or ill health. Love casts out fear of being alone. Love casts out fear of lack. Love casts out fear of failure. Love casts out fear of people as it is always harmonious and it is never overpowered by personality. Love casts out fear of change as one is blessed by change, enriched by change and made happier by change. Love casts out fear of fear as fear cannot stand in the face of love. Extended to international sphere, if the nations of the wold practise this wonderful principle, there would be no world wars, no large-scale massacres, no hatred for humanity, and no widespread destruction.
Hatred is a fire. So long as fire burns within us, we cannot have joy of life. And as the Buddha said, “Hatred ceaseth not by hatred, hatred ceaseth by love”! When a thought of hatred comes to us, trample it under foot and breathe out a thought of love and good will. When Jesus was sacrificed, he prayed for his persecutors. There he stood on the cross: nail after nail was struck into his hands, his feet, his throat: Blood flowed out of his gentle, pure body, a body that had never caused harm to anyone. And on his lips was the prayer: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”!
We are told to love our enemies, but we can do only when we know God. He who truly knows God knows perfect love and by that perfect experience fear, resentment and hatred are cast out of the heart. Four hundred years before Christ was born, Hippocrates, first great savant of medicine, declared that hatred, resentment and fear are like poisons in the blood. As psychosomatic medicine now teaches, such poisons can produce ulcers and arthritis and even more terrifying ills. To be safe, we need the courage to love. Greatest of the French kings, Henry IV threw food over the walls of Paris every night during his long siege of the city. When at last he conquered them, the people pelted him with flowers of welcome, knowing he had never hated them and that they need not fear him. Once free of bitterness, our strength is as the strength of ten, because then the heart is pure. In great matters or small, hate is a painful and bitter experience. If we are wise, we will make haste to forgive, and get rid of the pain the resentment and the bitterness before we get sick from them. “And, throughout eternity, we should follow, I forgive you, you forgive me”. “That is the beginning of true freedom when we are liberated from ourselves”. This is the path laid down by God for us. To fight one’s enemies is no ways to succeed in life. Only by avoiding conflict can one consolidate one’s strength.
Making people aware is the first step in the path of creating a peaceful and cordial atmosphere. The journey of a person always starts from this point, just as a farmer cultivates a seed which later transforms into a tree, an educational institution should make a person tolerant, selfless, charactered, self-reliant and intellectually capable so that he can complete his evolutionary journey in a successful manner.
A person who is aware is able to develop a correct opinion about himself and others. He can view the problems of life against the background of the eternal cosmic plan. An aware person alone is a sensitive human being in the true sense. He is able to evaluate and determine which of his opinions are prejudicial and which are not. Whenever any situation arises, he recognizes what action would be a reaction and what other action would be a positive response. He distinguishes right from wrong. Separating the false, he recognizes the truth. He does not have any hate or resentment for others. The following quote from Sir Thomas Carlyle, a well-known British Writer, is very helpful in making us understand the meaning of being truly sensitive towards others – it is to have a loving heart which is the key to gaining knowledge. He said, “A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge”. The above saying is extremely meaningful but its meaningfulness cannot be properly understood unless we add to it, “Loving, despite there being a cause for hatred and resentment”. For in this world the factors of hatred and resentment are always present. No one can love other human beings without demonstrating that they are broad minded enough to love people despite experiencing their hatred, resentment and ill-will.
To develop a heart within us, which may love despite hatred and resentment amounts to taking ourselves to the height of morality. This high morality is the only ground on which the plant of knowledge grows and develops into a lush green tree. If someone conspires against us, we should render the conspiracy ineffective through wisdom and silent positive action. To fight our enemies is no way to succeed in life. Only by avoiding conflict can we consolidate our strength. Only then, will we be able to overcome our foes. We can achieve success in this world of God by pursuing the policy of non-confrontation, love and conciliation and avoiding confrontation, hatred and resentment. The best way to respond to others is to clear our own way ahead by exercising patience, love and wisdom instead of becoming agitated by others and reacting angrily with hatred.
Let us bear witness to this great ideal in our daily life. Our saints, dervishes and sages have repeatedly given us this one message: grow in Love – Love for God and love for one another. Nothing else matters. If we really want to build our lives in love, the first step is – let us talk to one another sweetly. Saint Kabir often gave this teaching to his devotees: speak sweetly, walk humbly and serve all, then God Himself will be with us. We don’t have to make an effort to go to Him. God Himself will follow us. This can be possible only when we should love, despite hatred and resentment.
Let us, therefore, give the gift of the heart, the gift of love, because it is not what we give that counts, it is the attitude, it is the spirit with which we give that counts.
(The author is Retired Teacher of School Department.)
I D Soni