Seekers of spiritual knowledge might ask, “What’s love got to do with it?” Devotees of devotion reply, “Divine love is everything.” In mystical “marriage,” divine union, you can’t have one without the other. Divine Love and divine Truth are One in divine Reality.
 
    In Sufism of Islam, knowledge is the key which opens the lock of love. Ma`rifa, spiritual knowledge, is essential to properly guide those who are intoxicated with mahabba, love for the divine. They are two of the last stations on the mystical path. Sufism often uses exquisite poetry to convey our longing for the divine. Some of the verses were considered too erotic by orthodox Muslim clerics. Sufis say that they are just allegories to express the inexpressible.
 
    In Hinduism, bhakti is our devotion in love and adoration of the divine. Jnana is knowledge of the way to approach the divine. Both are considered paths to realize divine union and to be released from samsara, the cycle of birth and rebirth. The way of devotion is the preferred path of most Hindu movements, as in many orthodox religions; the way of knowledge is emphasized in Vedanta;  preferred and emphasized, perhaps, but they are not mutually exclusive.
 
    The “Song of Songs” in the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, are a series of love poems which may appear to be secular. Both Jewish and Christian mystics, however, interpret them as love between God and us. The “mystical marriage” is mentioned frequently in the Kabbalah of Judaism and by Christian mystics, although the latter often allude to love between Jesus and his faithful. Divine union is the joining of the lover and beloved; it is also the unity of knower and known. Love and knowledge are coequal and complementary.
 
    All Buddhists are devoted to the Buddha; many may also worship celestial bodhisattvas and/or devas (deities).* They do not “love the divine” in the common, theistic sense, but that which is found in highest spiritual experience. Sanskrit prajna, the direct awareness of sunyata, emptiness of self, is the perfect wisdom. Love is usually expressed as loving kindness, universal love for all beings...a concept and virtue shared by the traditions of mysticism in all religions.
 
*Deities adopted from native religions, or transformations of Buddhas or bodhisattvas. 
 
(11 of 30 quotations from "the greatest achievement in life," my free ebook on comparative mysticism)
 

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Tags: Meditation, Mysticism, Science, Spirituality

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Comment by Ron Krumpos on September 25, 2013 at 1:14pm

Dr. Radhakrishnan was quite a unique person.  He was the President of India 1962–67, Vice President 1952–62 and a Professor at Oxford University 1936–52. In 1961, I was introduced to Dr. Radhakrishnan by John Kenneth Galbraith, then the U.S. Ambassador to India. We later talked at his office in Delhi.

John F. Kennedy invited President Radhakrishnan to Washington and hosted a state dinner for him:

http://www.google.com/search?q=Radhakrishnan+Kennedy&client=saf...

Comment by John Backman on September 25, 2013 at 10:15am

Thank you, Ron. That's brilliantly articulated--certainly worthy of a mentor!

Comment by Ron Krumpos on September 25, 2013 at 10:06am

Yes, John, in our rational mind - as we mature - we realize the limits of our knowledge. Mystical 'gnosis,' however, is suprarational...beyond reason, logic and images. One of my mentors, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, said it well:

“It is a condition of consciousness in which feelings are fused, ideas melt into one another, boundaries are broken, and ordinary distinctions transcended. Past and present fade away into a sense of timeless being. Consciousness and being are not different from each other. In this fullness of felt life and freedom, the distinction of the knower and known disappears. The privacy of the individual self is broken into and invaded by a universal self which the individual feels as his own. The experience itself is felt to be sufficient and complete. It does not come in fragmentary or truncated form demanding completion by something else. It does not look beyond itself for meaning or validity.”

Comment by John Backman on September 25, 2013 at 9:29am

What a great summary of love and knowledge in different traditions. The knowledge element is particularly interesting to me: in my own journey, I have often had the sense that "the farther I go, the less I know." But perhaps that is a different form of knowledge: not intimacy with the Highest--which is greatly to be desired--but rather certainty about one's beliefs. Maybe I should say "the farther I go, the less certain I am," which I consider a positive thing. How do you all experience this?

Comment by Sangameswaran Nurani on July 31, 2013 at 5:51pm

Thank you Sir.

Comment by Ron Krumpos on July 31, 2013 at 3:35pm

Thanks Sangameswaran.

Comment by Sangameswaran Nurani on July 31, 2013 at 12:03pm

A beautiful analysis and presentation of the concept of divine love.