Children are born with the ability to love, but along the way they lose it because someone broke their heart and destroyed their trust. Many of us take the fallout from this baggage into our adult relationships.
For more on this topic, please see Unresolved Baggage From Childhood in Marriage
Finding an answer to the question – Who broke your heart? – is important to ponder, because a broken heart is often at the root of our loneliness.
If you have a broken heart, you expect to be hurt by everyone for the rest of your life.
One of my readers told me:
When I was very young it took me a long time to get over a broken heart and as time went on and my heart got broken over and over, I developed a shell which tried to protect me from showing my feelings.
That’s a perfect description of how we react! I think this shell we develop keeps out the love of God, too! And in order to have God and other people in our hearts, we have to dismantle the shell.
Some of us apply this quote to our lives:
Live free of love, for its very peace is anguish; Its beginning is pain, its end is death. Peace be upon him who followeth the Right Path! (Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 41)
But after a while, we see that this path leads to separation from God and loneliness among other people! Surely the Writings have more to comfort us with than this!
So how do we learn to love again, and why would we want to? Let’s see what the Bahá’í Writings can tell us on this important topic!
Why have we turned away from love?
Nothing destroys love faster than the two worst human qualities (lying and backbiting). Let’s look each of them separately.
When we meet with lying, faithlessness, and deceit, we are miserable:
When we find truth, constancy, fidelity, and love, we are happy; but if we meet with lying, faithlessness, and deceit, we are miserable. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 65)
The foundation of all evil is lying:
Consider that the worst of qualities and most odious of attributes, which is the foundation of all evil, is lying. No worse or more blameworthy quality than this can be imagined to exist; it is the destroyer of all human perfections and the cause of innumerable vices. There is no worse characteristic than this; it is the foundation of all evils. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 215)
If the sum of all sins were to be weighed in the balance, falsehood would, on its own, outweigh them:
If the sum of all sins were to be weighed in the balance, falsehood would, on its own, countervail them; nay its evils would even outweigh them and its detriment prove greater. It were better for thee that thou shouldst be a blasphemer and tell the truth than that thou shouldst mouth the formulas of faith and yet be a liar. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Trustworthiness, p. 12.)
The worst human quality and the most great sin is backbiting:
The worst human quality and the most great sin is backbiting. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 88)
Backbiting quenches the light of the heart, and extinguishes the life of the soul:
Backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul. (Bahá’u’lláh: The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 193)
Backbiting makes people indifferent and is the leading cause of a desire to withdraw:
If any soul speak ill of an absent one, the only result will clearly be this: he will dampen the zeal of the friends and tend to make them indifferent. For backbiting is divisive, it is the leading cause among the friends of a disposition to withdraw. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Selections From The Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 230-231)
For more on this topic, please see: Showing Kindness to a Liar, Traitor or Thief
6 Barriers to Love:
1. Fear: We can’t love when we’re afraid, because our hearts can’t contain both love and fear:
Love is a light that never dwelleth in a heart possessed by fear. (Baha’u’llah, The Four Valleys, p. 58)
When we love God, there’s no need to fear anything, because no harm can come to us:
A lover feareth nothing and no harm can come nigh him: Thou seest him chill in the fire and dry in the sea. (Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 9)
2. Hate: Before love can take root in our hearts, we have to let go of all hate:
It has been suggested that the words of Bahá’u’lláh that a true seeker should “so cleanse his heart that no remnant of either love or hate may linger therein, lest that love blindly incline him to error, or that hate repel him away from the truth,” support the viewpoint of methodological agnosticism. But we believe that on deeper reflection it will be recognized that love and hate are emotional attachments or repulsions that can irrationally influence the seeker; they are not aspects of the truth itself. (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 389-390)
3. Pride and Oppression: In order to truly love, we must first rid ourselves of all pride, oppression:
That which will leaven the human world is a love that will insure the abandonment of pride, oppression and hatred. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 45)
4. Fault-Finding: If we look at people from the standpoint of their faults, then being a friend to them is a formidable task:
If, however, we look at people from the standpoint of their faults, then being a friend to them is a formidable task. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 92)
5. Counterfeit and Imitation: True religion is the source of love and agreement but the people are holding to counterfeit and imitation:
True religion is the source of love and agreement amongst men, the cause of the development of praiseworthy qualities; but the people are holding to the counterfeit and imitation, negligent of the reality which unifies; so they are bereft and deprived of the radiance of religion. They follow superstitions inherited from their fathers and ancestors. To such an extent has this prevailed that they have taken away the heavenly light of divine truth and sit in the darkness of imitations and imaginations. That which was meant to be conducive to life has become the cause of death; that which should have been an evidence of knowledge is now a proof of ignorance; that which was a factor in the sublimity of human nature has proved to be its degradation. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 71)
This makes me think of how we use characters in romance novels and movies as role models, using their reactions and expressions as our own . . .
6. Gossip and Trouble-making: Gossip, trouble-making and criticism all seem easier than putting love into practice:
What the believers need is not only … to really study the teachings, but also to have more peace-makers circulating among them. Unfortunately, not only average people, but average Bahá’ís, are very immature; gossip, trouble-making, criticism, seem easier than the putting into practice of love, constructive words and cooperation. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 89)
Why should we learn to love again?
Love is a commandment of God:
Another commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another even as I love you. Great mercy and blessings are promised to the people of your land, but on one condition; that their hearts be filled with the fire of love, that they live in perfect harmony and kindness like one soul in different bodies. Never forget this. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 502)
God has created us to love and associate with each other:
God has created His servants in order that they may love and associate with each other. He has revealed the glorious splendor of His sun of love in the world of humanity. The cause of the creation of the phenomenal world is love. (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 297)
The best way to thank God is to love one another:
They should manifest gratitude and thankfulness to God, and the best way to thank God is to love one another. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 468)
Without love there can be no healing:
In the hearts of men no real love is found, and the condition is such that, unless their susceptibilities are quickened by some power so that unity, love and accord may develop within them, there can be no healing (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 171)
If love penetrates the heart of man, all the forces of the universe will be realized in him and he will make progress:
The greatest gift of man is universal love – that magnet which renders existence eternal. It attracts realities and diffuses life with infinite joy. If this love penetrate the heart of man, all the forces of the universe will be realized in him, for it is a divine power which transports him to a divine station and he will make no progress until he is illumined thereby. Strive to increase the love-power of reality, to make your hearts greater centers of attraction and to create new ideals and relationships. (Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 111-112)
The more we love, the nearer we will be to God:
The more you love, the nearer you will be to God. Love is one of the bounties of God. Therefore to love one another is good. (Compilations, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 501)
‘Abdu’l-Baha asks us to create relationships that nothing can shake:
Create relationships that nothing can shake; form an assembly that nothing can break up; have a mind that never ceases acquiring riches that nothing can destroy. (Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 111-112)
But how can we do it?
Attitudes which Promote Love:
Love must spring from the heart:
There is very little Divine love in the world to-day, but a great deal of intellectual reasoning, which is an entirely different thing, and springs from the mind and not the heart. (Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha’i Community, p. 406)
Whatever is done in love is never any trouble, and – there is always time:
Whatever is done in love is never any trouble, and – there is always time. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Daily Lessons Received at Akka, p. 42)
How do we show our love to others?
We need to redefine present-day conceptions of what is natural and appropriate in relationships:
A fundamental redefinition of human relationships is called for. Present-day conceptions of what is natural and appropriate in relationships—among human beings themselves, between human beings and nature, between the individual and society, and between the members of society and its institutions—reflect levels of understanding arrived at by the human race during earlier and less mature stages in its development. If humanity is indeed coming of age, if all the inhabitants of the planet constitute a single people, if justice is to be the ruling principle of social organization—then existing conceptions that were born out of ignorance of these emerging realities have to be recast…Movement in this direction has barely begun.
(Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Mar 03, The Prosperity of Humankind)
We must first turn our hearts to the Beloved One, and seek His will:
The essence of love is for man to turn his heart to the Beloved One, and sever himself from all else but Him, and desire naught save that which is the desire of his Lord. (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 155)
We must remember that our love for each other can be acquired by greater love for Bahá’u’lláh:
The thing the friends need—everywhere—is a greater love for each other, and this can be acquired by greater love for Bahá’u’lláh; for if we love Him deeply enough, we will never allow personal feelings and opinions to hold His Cause back; we will be willing to sacrifice ourselves to each other for the sake of the Faith, and be, as the Master said, one soul in many bodies. (Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 16)
We must love and serve mankind for the sake of God and not for anything else:
Love and serve mankind just for the sake of God and not for anything else. The foundation of your love toward humanity must be spiritual faith and Divine assurance. (‘Abdul-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 213)
We must see Divine Love reflected in the heart of the other:
The love which exists between the hearts of believers is prompted by the ideal of the unity of spirits. This love is attained through the knowledge of God, so that men see the Divine Love reflected in the heart. Each sees in the other the Beauty of God reflected in the soul, and finding this point of similarity, they are attracted to one another in love. This love will make all men the waves of one sea, this love will make them all the stars of one heaven and the fruits of one tree. This love will bring the realization of true accord, the foundation of real unity. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 180-181)
We must remember that actions speak louder than words:
If I love you, I need not continually speak of my love—you will know without any words. On the other hand if I love you not, that also will you know—and you would not believe me, were I to tell you in a thousand words, that I loved you. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 16)
We must cheer and refresh the down-cast through friendliness and charity:
Now is the time to cheer and refresh the down-cast through the invigorating breeze of love and fellowship, and the living waters of friendliness and charity. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 7)
We must give practical help, based on the true needs of those we seek to love:
We know that to help the poor and to be merciful is good and pleases God, but knowledge alone does not feed the starving man, nor can the poor be warmed by knowledge or words in the bitter winter; we must give the practical help of Loving-kindness. (‘Abdul-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 60)
We must draw on each other’s love for strength and consolation in time of need:
Indeed the believers have not yet fully learned to draw on each other’s love for strength and consolation in time of need. The Cause of God is endowed with tremendous powers, and the reason the believers do not gain more from it is because they have not learned to draw fully on these mighty forces of love and strength and harmony generated by the Faith. (Shoghi Effendi, Living the Life, p.8)
We must make every interaction with love and harmony, friendliness and fellowship:
Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship . . . This goal excelleth every other goal, and this aspiration is the monarch of all aspirations. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 288)
We must live in unity, concord, agreement and love:
The divine purpose is that men should live in unity, concord and agreement and should love one another. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 245)
We must be ready to sacrifice our lives for one another and prefer their general well-being to our own:
First of all, be ready to sacrifice your lives for one another, to prefer the general well-being to your personal well-being. (Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 111-112)
We must lay aside all self-purposes, and trust that God will bind us together in love and agreement:
Lay aside all self-purposes, and know for a certainty that all men are the servants of one God Who will bind them together in love and agreement. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 322)
We must look higher than all earthly thoughts:
We must look higher than all earthly thoughts; detach ourselves from every material idea, crave for the things of the spirit; fix our eyes on the everlasting bountiful Mercy of the Almighty, who will fill our souls with the gladness of joyful service to His command ‘Love One Another‘. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 39)
We must see in everyone only that which is worthy of praise:
One must see in every human being only that which is worthy of praise. When this is done, one can be a friend to the whole human race. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 92)
Here’s how ‘Abdu’l-Baha suggests we learn to praise others:
It is related that His Holiness Christ — May my life be a sacrifice to Him! — one day, accompanied by His apostles, passed by the corpse of a dead animal. One of them said: ‘How putrid has this animal become!’ The other exclaimed: ‘How it is deformed!’ A third cried out: ‘What a stench! How cadaverous looking!’ but His Holiness Christ said: “Look at its teeth! how white they are!’ Consider, that He did not look at all at the defects of that animal; nay, rather, He searched well until He found the beautiful white teeth. He observed only the whiteness of the teeth and overlooked entirely the deformity of the body, the dissolution of its organs and the bad odour. This is the attribute of the children of the Kingdom. This is the conduct and the manner of the real Bahá’ís. I hope that all the believers will attain to this lofty station. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 91)
Let’s try love as an experiment. If it doesn’t work, we can always go back to the darkness of loneliness and isolation:
Let us be united and love one another and await the result. We know the effects of war are bad. So let us try, as an experiment, peace, and if the results of peace are bad, then we can choose if it would be better to go back to the old state of war! Let us in any case make the experiment. If we see that unity brings Light we shall continue it. For six thousand years we have been walking on the left-hand path; let us walk on the right-hand path now. We have passed many centuries in darkness, let us advance towards the light. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 61-62)
What has helped you find love again? Post your comments below.