The religion of love

The religion of love
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There is a Persian poem that tells how a lover came to the door of his beloved, and knocked. She asked, “Who art thou?” and he replied “I am so and so, thy beloved!” and she answered only, “Go! I know none such!” But when she had asked for the fourth time, he said “I am thyself, O my beloved, therefore open thou to me!” and the door was opened.

A great saint said, using the language of a girl, describing love. “Four eyes met. There were changes in two souls. And now I cannot tell whether he is a man, and I a woman, or he a woman and I a man. This only I remember, two souls were. Love came, and there was one.”

In the highest love, union is only of the spirit. All love of another kind is quickly evanescent. Only the spiritual lasts, and this grows.

Love sees the Ideal. This is the third angle of the triangle. God has been cause, Creator, Father. Love is the culmination. The mother regrets that her child is humpbacked, but when she has nursed him for a few days, she loves him and thinks him most beautiful. The lover sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt. We do not commonly realize what happens. The brow of Egypt is merely a suggestion: the man sees Helen. His ideal is thrown upon the suggestion and covers it, as the oyster makes sand into a pearl. God is this ideal, through which man may see all.

Hence we come to love Love itself. This love cannot be expressed. No words can utter it. We are dumb about it.


Believe first in yourself, then in God.
A handful of strong men will move the world.
We need a heart to feel; a brain to conceive;
and a strong arm to do the work.


The senses become very much heightened in love. Human love, we must remember, is mixed up with attributes. It is dependent, too, on the other’s attitude. Indian languages have words to describe this interdependence of love. The lowest love is selfish; it consists in the pleasure of being loved. We say in India, ‘one gives the cheek the other kisses.’ Above this is mutual love. But this also ceases mutually. True love is all giving. We don’t even want to see the other, or to do anything to express our feeling. It is enough to give. It is almost impossible to love a human being like this, but it is possible so to love God. …

The three angles of the triangle are: Love begs not. Love knows no fear. Love is always of the ideal.

“Who would be able to live one second,
Who would be able to breathe one moment,
If the Loving one had not filled this universe?”

Most of us will find that we were born for service. We must leave the results to God. If failure comes, there need be no sorrow. The work was done only for God.

In women, the mother-nature is much developed. They worship God as the child. They ask nothing, and will do anything. …

Deepen your own power of thought and love. Bring your own lotus to blossom: the bees will come of themselves. Believe first in yourself, then in God. A handful of strong men will move the world. We need a heart to feel; a brain to conceive; and a strong arm to do the work. Buddha gave himself for the animals. Make yourself a fit agent to work. But it is God who works, not you. One man contains the whole universe. One particle of matter has all the energy of the Universe at its back. In a conflict between the heart and the brain follow your heart.

Notes of a lecture delivered in London on November 16, 1895,
from Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol. 8.



Article by SWAMI VIVEKANANDA


About Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)

Vivekananda was a spiritual giant of the 19th century whose guru was the saint Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He introduced the Indian philosophy of Yoga to the western world and raised interfaith awareness. He is probably best known for his inspiring speech at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893, which began, “Sisters and brothers of America”.

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