Compassion for All

From Bhakti Yoga Sagar, Volume 5, Swami Satyananda Saraswati

What is true love? Even if a person talks negatively about you and harms you, still you should love them. Saint Francis has also said this. True love does not mean that you love a person because he loves you. You love a person despite his hatred of you. This love is not just emotional, it has to be concrete. If you don't like me, I don't care, but I will still help you. If your house is on fire, I will call the fire brigade. I will not say, "Oh, who cares if that rascal's house is burning. Let it burn!"

True love has no conditions at all. Just because you love me, I should love you; this geometry does not work in spiritual life. Saints say, "If you hate me, I love you. If you don't like me, I like you. If you hurt me, I heal you." But this is very difficult because sometimes a person whom I have been helping for years and years suddenly gives me a boxing. I ask, "What are you doing?" He replies, "You rascal." I say, "Hey, I have been feeding and helping you for many years. When you were sick I helped you. When you were poor I gave you money, and now you are calling me a rascal." He answers, "That is all your fraud." Even then, you should not lose your presence of mind, and your love for that person should not change.

Love means sacrifice

Love is most difficult to practise, but hatred is easy. To be false is so natural. Love gives rise to exemplary behaviour in man, while hatred causes obnoxious behaviour. I am not talking of love between a man and woman here, although that is also an act of love, but of that love which is an expression of compassion for all beings. Love has to be defined in a wider perspective. Usually when we speak of love, we think of the feeling between two people, a man and woman. I am the lover and you are the beloved. Love is understood in this perspective, which is incomplete.

The love between a husband and wife, mother and son, brother and sister, friend and friend may be very deep. However, the love between a devotee and God, or a disciple and guru, where two hearts unite, is complete. When two hearts are repulsed by each other, there is hatred. Whenever such feelings come to your mind, you must say, "No, he does not know what he is doing," just as Christ said from the cross, "God forgive them, for they know not what they do." That has to be the attitude.

Although you may understand this principle, it is still very difficult to practise. It is so easy to speak of love, but what I have said in five minutes may take you lifetimes to achieve. Those who really want to practise love must be prepared to sacrifice as well, because love means sacrifice. Love is giving, not taking. It is an act of unconditional giving and giving and giving, where you may lose yourself, you may even be completely destroyed. Who knows? In the act of love, even if you are a loser it does not matter. But if you only want to be the winner, then it is better not to try because the lover is going to be the loser. True love is giving and not receiving.