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)