World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson


True Love

When the individual realizes Truth and fulfills God's purpose for his life, he comes to embody universal love. He delights in the well-being of others and selflessly works for their benefit. Love or Compassion, being the core of Ultimate Reality, is expressed in the love of the saint who can rise above self-centered attachments and desires. It is true love, love that is totally committed to the welfare of the other. It is love that is universal, overcoming the ordinary tendency to self-centeredness or favoritism for one's own.

The ideal of love described in this section is rare in the world. Such love requires the foundation of integrity, truthfulness, and unity with the Absolute as described in the previous section on Perfection. Other passages which describe love as an ethic can be found under Loving Kindness, pp. 826-30.

This section opens with several well-known passages that describe human love as grounded in divine love: 1 John 4 and 1 Corinthians 13 of the Christian Bible, from the Bhagavad Gita, and the Buddhist Metta Sutta. The following passages describe divine love as universal, flowing impartially to all beings, insentient to likes and dislikes.

The last three passages discuss true love from the standpoint of love in the family. On the one hand, as love for children and love for spouse are the most intense of human loves, such love is the standard that should be universally applied to all. Thus a Buddhist sutra states that the bodhisattva loves everyone as though they were a loved only child. On the other hand, even love of family often succumbs to partiality; as the Confucian passage from the Doctrine of the Mean cautions, it is not true love if the personal foundation is not right.

Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.

No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.

Christianity. Bible, 1 John 4.7-8, 12-13, 18-20

The infinite joy of touching the Godhead is easily attained by those who are free from the burden of evil and established within themselves. They see the Self in every creature and all creation in the Self. With consciousness unified through meditation, they see everything with an equal eye.

I am ever present into those who have realized Me in every creature. Seeing all life as My manifestation, they are never separated from Me. They worship Me in the hearts of all, and all their actions proceed from Me. Wherever they may live, they abide in Me.

When a person responds to the joys and sorrows of others as if they were his own, he has attained the highest state of spiritual union.

Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 6.28-32

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 13

1 John 4.7-20: Cf. Sotah 31a, p. 71; John 17.12-13, p. 271. Bhagavad Gita 6.28-32: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 3.15-26, p. 976. 1 Corinthians 13: Cf. Abot 2.13;

He who is skilled in welfare, who wishes to attain that calm state (Nibbana), should act thus: He should be able, upright, perfectly upright, of noble speech, gentle, and humble. Contented, easily supported, with few wants and simple tastes, with senses calmed, discreet, not impudent, not greedily attached to families....

[He should always hold this thought,] "May all beings be happy and secure, may their hearts be wholesome! Whatever living beings there be: feeble or strong, tall, stout or medium, short, small or large, without exception; seen or unseen, those dwelling far or near, those who are born or those yet unborn--may all beings be happy!"

Let none deceive another, nor despise any person whatsoever in any place. Let him not wish any harm to another out of anger or ill-will. Just as a mother would protect her only child at the risk of her own life, even so, let him cultivate a boundless heart towards all beings. Let his thoughts of boundless love pervade the whole world: above, below, and across without any obstruction, without any hatred, without any enmity. Whether he stands, walks, sits or lies down, as long as he is awake, he should develop this mindfulness. This, they say, is the noblest living here.

Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 143-151, Metta Sutta

Now, I am jealous of no one, Now that I have attained unto the Society of the Saints: I am estranged with no one: nor is anyone a stranger to me, Indeed, I am the friend of all. All that God does, with that I am pleased; This is the wisdom I have received from the saints. Yea, the One God pervades all: and, seeing Him, I am wholly in bloom.

Sikhism. Adi Granth, Kanara, M.5, p. 1299

Compassion is a mind that savors only Mercy and love for all sentient beings.

Buddhism. Nagarjuna, Precious Garland 437

That one I love who is incapable of ill will, who is friendly and compassionate.

Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 12.13

If, like a cracked gong, you silence yourself, you have already attained Nibbana: no vindictiveness will be found in you.

Buddhism. Dhammapada 134

Oracle of the Kami of Kasuga, p. 969; Precious Garland 283, p. 860; Sun Myung Moon, 4-18-77, p. 355. Metta Sutta: This is the classic Buddhist passage on loving kindness. Cf. Dhammapada 368, p. 969; Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 321-22, p. 971; Garland Sutra 23, p. 1000; 23, p. 980; Sikshasamuccaya 280-81, pp. 979f.

A man is a true Muslim when no other Muslim has to fear anything from either his tongue or his hand.

Islam. Hadith of Bukhari

To the addict, nothing is like his dope; to the fish, nothing is like water: But those immersed in the love of God feel love for all things.

Sikhism. Adi Granth, Wadhans, M.1, p. 557

Then that do we choose, O Lord of Wisdom, O beautiful Truth, that do we think, do we speak, and do we practice, which shall be best of the actions of living ones for both worlds!

Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 35.3

Hillel said, "Be of the disciples of Aaron--one that loves peace, that loves mankind, and brings them nigh to the Law."

Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 1:12

Have benevolence towards all living beings, joy at the sight of the virtuous, compassion and sympathy for the afflicted, and tolerance towards the indolent and ill-behaved.

Jainism. Tattvarthasutra 7.11

Of the adage, Only a Good Man knows how to like people, knows how to dislike them, Confucius said, "He whose heart is in the smallest degree set upon Goodness will dislike no one."

Confucianism. Analects 4.3-4

Strong One, make me strong. May all beings look on me with the eye of friend! May I look on all beings with the eye of friend! May we look on one another with the eye of friend!

Hinduism. Yajur Veda 36.18

Wadhans 1.1: This is a good test of whether an emotion is godly love or ordinary love. Godly love is all-embracing, while ordinary love focuses on one object exclusively, thereby inciting jealousy. Godly love seeks to benefit others, while ordinary love is tinged with selfish desire. Cf. Asa-ki-Var 21.1, p. 1000; Sun Myung Moon, 9-11-77, p. 274.

He lets his mind pervade one quarter of the world with thoughts of love, and so the second, and so the third, and so the fourth. And thus the whole wide world, above, below, around, and everywhere, does he continue to pervade with the heart of love, far-reaching, exalted, beyond measure. Just as a mighty trumpeter makes himself heard--and that without difficulty--in all the four directions; even so of all things that have the shape of life there is not one that he passes by or leaves aside, but regards them all with mind set free, and deep-felt love. Verily this is the way to a state of union with Brahma.

Buddhism. Digha Nikaya xiii.76-77, Tevigga Sutta

All humanity should walk the path of love. True peace and a world of joy cannot be realized without love. Happiness is the same. Can you feel happiness alone? You can only feel true happiness when you are able to have a reciprocal relationship of love with another.

Freedom is the same. You cannot experience freedom alone; it can only be achieved through love and within love. You don't feel tired in the place of true love. Mo matter how exhausted you are, if you are intoxicated with love and you burst into tears out of love then your tiredness will suddenly disappear. When you feel true love you don't feel hungry or tired. Also you do not feel afraid of death.

Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 4-25-81

What is meant by saying that the regulation of the family depends on the cultivation of the personal life is this: Men are partial toward those for whom they have affection and whom they love, partial toward those whom they despise and dislike, partial toward those whom they fear and revere, partial toward those whom they pity and for whom they have compassion, and partial toward those whom they do not respect. Therefore there are few people in the world who know what is bad in those whom they love and what is good in those whom they dislike. Hence it is said, People do not know the faults of their sons and do not know [are not satisfied with] the bigness of their seedlings. This is what is meant by saying that if the personal life is not cultivated, one cannot regulate his family.

Confucianism. Great Learning 8

If you step on a stranger's foot in the marketplace, you apologize at length for your carelessness. If you step on your older brother's foot, you give him an affectionate pat, and if you step on your parent's foot, you know you are already forgiven. So it is said, "Perfect ritual makes no distinction of persons; perfect righteousness takes no account of things [wealth]; perfect knowledge does not scheme; perfect benevolence knows no [partiality in] affection; perfect trust dispenses with gold."

Taoism. Chuang Tzu 23

Great Learning 8: Confucianism teaches that one should be partial towards one's own family and relatives--yet only as the starting point for a social ethic which is an expansion of family relations--cf. Mencius I.A.7, p. 971. To counter the tendency of partiality to become corrupt, another aspect to Confucian teaching is the search for a univeral objective basis for action in the world: the cultivation of personal virtue. Each person should have a foundation of benevolence within himself or herself in order that love--both to family and to strangers--may be correct. Cf. Mencius II.A.6, p. 216; Mencius VII.B.6, p. 968. Chuang Tzu 23: Perfect action is spontaneous, heartfelt, trusting, and intimate; it dispenses with formalities. It can only exist where there is true love. Cf. Tao Te Ching 49, p. 1000.

The bodhisattva, the great being, having practiced compassion, sympathy, and joy, attains the stage of the best-loved only son. For example, the father and mother greatly rejoice as they see their son at peace. The same is the case with the bodhisattva who abides in this stage: he sees all beings just as the parents see their only son. Seeing him practicing good, he greatly rejoices. So we call this stage the best-loved.

For example, the father and mother are worried at heart as they see their son ill. Commiseration poisons their heart; the mind cannot part with the illness. So it is with the bodhisattva, the great being, who abides in this stage. As he sees beings bound up in the illness of illusion, his heart aches. He is worried as in the case of an only son. Blood comes out from all pores of the skin. That is why we call this stage as that of an only son.

A child picks up earth, dirty things, tiles, stones, old bones, pieces of wood and puts them into his mouth, at which the father and mother, apprehensive of the harms that might arise thereby, take the child with the left hand and with the right take these out. The same goes with the bodhisattva: he sees that all beings are not grown up to the stage of law body and that non-good is done in body, speech, and mind. The bodhisattva sees, and with the hand of wisdom has it extracted. He does not wish that man should repeat birth and death, receiving thereby sorrow and worry.

When a father and mother part with their beloved son as the son dies, their hearts so ache that they feel that they themselves should die together with him. The same is the case with the bodhisattva: as he sees a benighted person fall into hell, he himself desires to be born there, too. [He thinks,] "Perhaps the man, as he experiences the pain, may gain a moment of repentance where I can speak to him of the Law in various ways and enable him to gain a thought of good."

For the father and mother of an only son, in sleep or while awake, or while walking, standing, sitting, or reclining, their minds always think of the son. If he does wrong, they give kindly advice and lead the boy that he does not do evil any more. The same is the case of the bodhisattva: as he sees beings fall into the realms of hell, hungry ghosts and animals, or sees them doing good and evil in the world of man and in heaven, his mind is ever upon them and not apart from them. He may see them doing all evil, yet he does not become angry or punish with evil intent.

Buddhism. Mahaparinirvana Sutra 470-71

Mahaparinirvana Sutra 470-71: The love of a mother for her only child, as developed in this Mahayana text as the way of the bodhisattva, is similar to the Theravada concept of compassion as set forth in the Metta Sutta (above). Cf. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 5, p. 495. The 'stage of law body' is the complete realization of Buddhahood, when one is totally identical with Reality, the Dharmakaya.

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