Can love be universalised?

Updated on Apr 13, 2004 11:36 AM IST

"I know we are told to love everybody," she continued, "but how is it possible to love someone who commits a crime like murder?"

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PTI | BySwami Kriyananda

Swami Kriyananda is a direct disciple since 1948 of Paramhansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi. He is the founder of Ananda Sangha, and of seven Ananda communities in America and Europe. Now 78, he has moved to India to make his Guru’s teachings known in the land of his birth: to teach the liberating meditation technique of Kriya Yoga, and to establish communities where householders and renunciates alike can seek God in the company of fellow devotees.

A friend of mine one told me, "My servant's son was murdered recently, over the debt of a mere few hundred rupees! I know we are told to love everybody," she continued, "but how is it possible to love someone who commits such a vicious crime?"

Love may, in fact, be the last word that springs to mind under such circumstances! I told her, of course, that she can love God in all. Unfortunately, even that advice may seem too abstract. For how many people love God at all? The doubt may go even deeper by raising the question: How lovable is He, that He can allow such injustice on earth?

I didn't bother to remind her that it was, of course, the karma of that boy to be slain. Perhaps he was guilty of a similar crime in some former life. Perhaps, then, he even slew his present murderer. I said nothing, reflecting that not many would find this explanation comforting at such a time. Surely it would be small comfort to the mother! Moreover, it wouldn't have addressed the question of how to love everybody.

Reflect, however -- this is what I said to my friend -- on the many lifetimes it takes each soul to reach perfection. Paramhansa Yogananda in his commentary on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam said, of one of those quatrains, that its meaning is that many souls who appear as individual egos at the beginning of a Day of Brahma will be wandering in delusion still at the end of that long period of time. God is manifested in each of them, however. The divine spark is in all. We must all, eventually, find our own reality in Him. It is possible to love that divine spark in everyone, if we see all souls as struggling through trial and error to discover, ultimately, the truth of their own being.

Even that murderer is only seeking, delusively, his own bliss-nature. He may err a million times, but at the end of that long road he is destined to discover himself as Satchidanandam. His error in this life has been simply that he has thought he would be happier by giving vent to his rage. He'll learn, in time. His rage will have given him nothing, and perhaps will only bring him great suffering. Eventually he is bound to come to understand that the bliss and freedom his soul naturally seeks will be found in a very different direction: in himself.

There is another very practical reason why we should love everyone. For we ourselves are happier, when we love! When our friends hurt us, for example, our first reaction may be to feel betrayed. If this should happen to you, ask yourself: Why should I suffer twice? I've been hurt, but why suffer, in addition? I am happier when I love! I simply choose to love!

Swami Kriyananda's programme appears at 2200 hours IST on the Sadhna Channel. (For more,

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