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February 12, 2012

Question: What is the relationship between spiritual and earthly love?

 If by earthly love, the question implies the love between sexes, the spiritual element should form an integral part of earthly love. In fact, viewed in the light of the immortality of the soul, and the union of a married couple that will continue beyond death, the spiritual element becomes the eternal bond that seals the earthly love. If no spiritual element exists in the relationship, if it be based only on physical attraction, union will dissolve at death, for the physical is temporary.

In the Bahá’í teachings, all existing forms of love, including earthly love, have their origin in the fountainhead of the Love of God. ‘Abdu’Bahá (Servant of Glory) (1844-1921), the son and successor of the Prophet-Founder Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), gave a statement on the four kinds of love. “Love is only of the four kinds that I have explained. (a) The love of God towards the identity of God. Christ has said God is Love. (b) The love of God for His children -- for His servants. (c) The love of man for God and (d) the love of man for man. These four kinds of love originate from God. These are rays from the Sun of Reality; these are the Breathings of the Holy Spirit; these are the Signs of the Reality (Paris Talks, p. 181). The phrase “man for man” is generic here, and means love between human beings, and does not refer, of course, to the male gender exclusively.

Consequently, the highest from of earthly love, which touches on the divine, occurs when lovers find the beauty of God mutually reflected in the soul. This relationship has been explained by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as follows: “Each sees in the other the Beauty of God reflected in the soul, and finding this point of similarity, they are attracted to one another in love”(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 180).

He also cautions us about infatuation—the appearance that is only a mirage. “But the love which sometimes exists between friends is not (true) love, because it is subject to transmutation; this is merely fascination...This is not love, it is merely acquaintanceship; it is subject to change” (Paris Talks, p. 180).
-  Jack McLean

Printed in the The Ottawa Citizen February 12, 2012
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