What would it take for us to decide to come together as people around a principle? What would it be and what would it take? I hope it wouldn’t take a war or great travesty to do it. Instead of waiting for a calamity, I chose to practice a principle that is important to me. I will share my favorite principle for your consideration and invite you to share yours. To help in your brainstorming, I’ll share the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of principle: a moral rule or standard of good behavior.
The principle that I think will bring us all together is love. I considered unity, compassion, forgiveness and justice, but ultimately concluded that love is the foundation of being human and is the secret that holds us all together. Love is the lens through which I view the world. Without love, and aspiring to love everyone without judgment, I would not be able to function.
My inspiration for this choice comes from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá who wrote that love is the secret of the world: “Know thou of a certainty that love is the secret of God’s holy dispensation, the manifestation of the all-merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings.”
For me, love truly is the secret ingredient that comes from our creator to us in the form of spiritual gifts. The trick is for us to actually practice it and learn what love means in this spiritual context. For example, if we truly loved each other as human beings we wouldn’t have prejudice of any kind. There would not be poverty, racism, homophobia, religious intolerance or any other ism. Love would cause us to to look at each other and see how we could be of service to each other.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá goes on to write that love is a kindly light emanating from heaven and that it is “... the Holy Spirit’s eternal breath that vivifieth the human soul. Love is the cause of God’s revelation unto man, the vital bond inherent, in accordance with the divine creation, in the realities of things.” In this sense, love is kind and it renews our lives.
Another feature of love is that it brings us happiness. When we love unconditionally and without expectations we can be happy in this world and in the afterlife. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá expresses that “love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next. Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul.”
This is the love that I am trying to grasp. There is no guidebook or top 10 tips on how to achieve or operationalize this love. All I know is that I desire happiness and want to follow the light. What I can understand is if I try to practice real love, it links me to my creator and helps me spiritually progress in this life and the next. Imagine if we were all focused on this principle of love. Perhaps it would unite the world.
From my studies, I have also learned love is a law that has great power. I had never considered this because our society teaches us that love is romantic emotion fraught with many ups and downs. It can be unrequited and has been framed in literature as such by Shakespeare and other great poets. In contrast, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote that “Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the diverse elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms. Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe.”
To imagine that is a law that has such power that binds the world together is mind-boggling. How do we practice this love to bring us together? What do we need to learn to bring this love to light? ‘Abdu’l-Bahá writes further “Love is the spirit of life unto the adorned body of mankind, the establisher of true civilization in this mortal world, and the shedder of imperishable glory upon every high-aiming race and nation.”
Perhaps this is what we need to do — reframe our definition of love and focus on its features of light, power, magnetism, civilization building and bringer of unity. A second would be to start practicing to reach a renewed state of being. What is your principle that you believe will bring us together and how do you practice it?
Educator and writer Nanette Missaghi shares this space with Dr. Bernard E. Johnson, Beryl Schewe and the Revs. Rod Anderson and Timothy A. Johnson. “Spiritually Speaking” appears weekly.