Love is the most influential and powerful force in the world. – Radhanath Swami
People are willing to go to war, even sacrifice their lives, for the sake of love. It is so deeply ingrained in us that it is the basic theme of almost every movie and TV-show produced. Every living being feels the need to love and to be loved. We see it manifest between friends, family, paramours and so on. No matter the circumstance, still love prevails. Let us examine this all-pervading force and uncover the essence. For by understanding the nature of love, we may never be without it.
A Spouse’s Love
One great example of the power of love is found in the case of the Civil War’s hidden soldiers. 19th century America tore into two opposing sides, resulting in gruesome combat for years on end. Hundreds of thousands of young men were slain in battle. There was no time for training. The government would recruit them, put a cold pistol in their hands, and off to the battlefield. The thought of their husband being gone and possibly never returning was unbearable for many young brides. In separation from their husbands, many women tied up their hair, threw on a baggy uniform and joined their husbands on the front line. The couple would stay side by side and die together. That is the power of love.
A Parent’s Love
Another instance of love’s potency is that between a parent and their child. What austerities a woman will endure for her child! You practically can’t even pay someone to do what a mother does for her baby. No one else is willing to stay up all night, every night, 24-hour call. A mother is willing to sacrifice her life out of love for her child. And a father, out of his love for his children, sometimes works all day long, 6 or even 7 days a week. Foaming at the mouth like a beast of burden. A parent sacrifices so much of their own pleasure and comfort, all for the sake of their beloved child. That is the power of love.
A Love Lost, the Greatest Misery
Perhaps the instance in which love exhibits its influence most powerfully is in the form of a broken heart. People sing about it, people write books and dramas about it. There’s no greater pain than when our need to love is reposed in someone, and then that someone cheats you or deserts you or dies. No greater pain. Rarely do people with physical miseries such as cancer or even terminal diseases commit suicide, but when their lover leaves them, they cannot face life. The story is there of Romeo and Juliet. The star-crossed lovers fell for one another only to face the fact that their families and society would not allow their marriage. So then, “To be or not to be” Should we continue living or should we die? Romeo and Juliet found the only way to relieve the pain of their frustrated love was to commit suicide, and so they did. That is the power of love.
Radhanath Swami on the Loving Nature of the Soul
Now let us examine the origin of this most powerful conqueror of all conquerors. The Bhagavad Gita describes the material body as yantra, like a vehicle. The passenger within the vehicle of the body is the atma. The atma, or soul, is the life-giving force of the body and the mind.
When that soul leaves this body, the body is dead. Like a vehicle without a driver, it can do nothing. Where is that person we love? If he is the body, why are we disposing of him? The real person, who loves and who is the object of love is the atma, the soul. –Radhanath Swami
The nature of the soul is sat-chit-ananda: eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss. Because our very nature is ananda, blissful, we cannot live without bliss. It is our integral, constitutional position to enjoy ecstatic fulfillment. That is why everyone, whether Indian, American or Eskimo is looking for pleasure. And the most fulfilling pleasure is love. Thus the soul is, by nature, always striving to love and to be loved.
Radhanath Swami Contrasts The Soul’s Nature with Impersonal Liberation
Some strive to fulfill this need for love through impersonal liberation (merging into the oneness of the all pervading spiritual light.) This liberation is a genuine spiritual level of transcendental experience, but it is partial. The Vedic scriptures explain that from this non-dual, peaceful state, eventually, one falls down into material consciousness. Why? Because although there is complete relief from all sufferings, we have not fulfilled the essential need of the soul to reciprocate pure love. Brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti shabyate Therefore the great Vedic texts and acharyas declare the highest, most complete realization of the absolute truth is Bhagavan, the supreme personality of Godhead. For it is only through connection to the source of all love that the soul’s longings may be perfectly fulfilled.
Radhanath Swami on Krishna Prema, The Supreme Love & Satisfaction
The source of all existence is called upon by the name Krishna. There are many names of God. Krishna is the all-inclusive name because Krishna means all attractive. Due to our being a part of Krishna, love of Krishna is our essential constitutional nature.
Without love of Krishna, whatever arrangement we make, whatever spiritual realization we gain, we are like fish trying to be happy outside of the sea. You can imagine you are happy if you have all phantasmagoric devices around you. But a fish can never find real satisfaction lying in the hot sand nor can the spirit soul find complete satisfaction with any materialistic arrangement. –Radhanath Swami
This longing for satisfaction is immediately satiated when we experience the unlimited pleasure of Krishna’s love. What is his love? Even though we may rebel against him, still he remains in our heart, never leaving us for a second. Even though we may reject and forget him, still Krishna continues to empower the saintly to attract our hearts back to his eternal abode of transcendental love. This is the nature of the highest love, unconditional, unmotivated and unceasing.
A Practical Approach to Enlightenment by Radhanath Swami
It is commonly believed that this spiritual perfection of pure love can only be attained through renunciation. But the Bhagavad Gita teaches otherwise. A few rare souls are meant to leave everything behind for the sake of enlightening others, but most are meant for a more balanced approach. In Bhagavad Gita, we see Arjuna was a warrior. He wasn’t told to give up his profession or family; he was told to work in a spirit of selfless service. We may be a doctor, a salesperson, a secretary, a CEO or a janitor, doesn’t matter, if our consciousness is properly situated, we experience spiritual growth.
By living a life where our activities, our words, and our thoughts are being directed from “what will please me” to “what will please Krishna”, from lust to love, and by associating with others who do the same, we gradually awaken the power of love within. –Radhanath Swami
That is the purpose of life, to awaken the power of pure love.
There is no greater power in all creation than the power of love. Even one particle of a drop of pure love can drive us to sacrifice everything for the sake of our beloved.
We see the power of love manifest before our eyes between lovers, friends and families. But the source, the essence, the fullest manifestation of love’s power is the love of the soul for the supreme soul, or God. –Radhanath Swami
This love is within all of us. It is the greatest of all powers because it grants realization of the highest truths and simultaneously provides the deepest inner fulfillment in our lives. By imbibing a loving consciousness through association and service, we experience this power of love and obtain the ability to share it with the world.