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The Concept and Primacy of Love

Love as the Bridge to Religious Harmony



On my web site I included an essay on Love; in that essay I mention a type of Love I termed Universal Love. There I described it briefly because that essay was more concerned with the common form of love most people know as Romantic Love, or love between the sexes. Here I will speak solely of the former (Universal Love). Also in this essay I will try to correct any misinterpretations and seeming contradictions I may have introduced in my ideas about God and Divine Will in any of the previous essays. These are more likely to have occurred because of the language I used, than as a result of mistakes in logic. Often there just aren’t any words to fully convey the meanings I intended; so often I use language that can be construed as being contradictory, because the meaning fails to convey all the meaning, and only really conveys a small part of it. I will demonstrate this below more fully.

But before I touch on this subject let me further elucidate some particulars on my Philosophy, “The Philosophy of the GOOD”, which I have presented through the essays on this web site, and my two books.

The Philosophy of the GOOD is not a static philosophy, but a living one. It began in me when I first wrote my book on Julius Caesar. I chose Caesar, as the subject of my book because I felt that History had truly slighted this remarkable man, in having assumed that he held motives similar to the motives of his peers. They (the Historians) had failed to understand that this was the first truly enlightened Western ruler in recorded History. He was a man with a very broad outlook, and extremely flexible attitude, considering that very inflexible age in which he lived.

He was remarkable because he saw things simultaneously through the eyes of many different kinds of peoples and classes, and understood them all as though he was one of them. In attaining this outlook he was able to win over their minds and hearts. In the Orient some hundreds of years before, Confucius had termed such men “Superior men (men here is genderless)”, men able to rule by knowing both the circumstances and the motives of the people they ruled. Later Machiavelli would term such men, men with “virtu”, a particular type of will, which allowed them to control their destinies and the destinies of those around them.

Caesar had taken the rabble, the “caput census” (literally, the "head count") as the Romans called them, and turned them into the finest army the world has ever known. He did this not through force or fear, or rewards and punishments, but through teaching them respect, honor and loyalty. He taught them through example, and by sharing with them not only victory and glory, but also hardship and peril. He was their leader, but he was also one of them. This is made plain in the proclamation of one of his captured soldiers, to his captors: “I am Caesar’s soldier, I do not accept mercy, I give it!”

An army of men welded together by ideals, not gain, is truly an invincible army, as he proved again and again on the battlefield, against all comers; as also the results of this outlook later proved in the cities that grew up from the camps of these soldiers and their colonies. He had truly turned lead into gold; but not in the alembic of the alchemist, with their philosopher’s stone, but in the hearts of the human outcasts who he had found without hope, through the agency of the GOOD, and its warrior’s code.

Later an obscure Jewish carpenter would use a very similar technique on a very superstitious and turbulent people. Like Caesar he would also be betrayed and murdered. Like Caesar he was also termed a God.

Although at first these two seem very different, on closer inspection they reveal a fundamental similarity. They were able to understand the deepest feelings of those around them, and in doing so to change the course of world events. They were both Superior men as mentioned above.

The Philosophy of the GOOD deals with the agency inside of all of us that produces such men as Caesar and Christ, an agency I call the GOOD.

Today Caesar is all but forgotten, and the warped and perverse societies that have grown up in this age that have failed to provide any men similar to them, honor that obscure carpenter as a God, yet seem to have totally forgotten the agency in all of us that both these men championed; the agency that produced them, and the basic force that fuels that agency.

The worship of God today, by whatever name, has, as it always has in the past, centered itself around small societies that follow a strict set of beliefs. One of these Christianity, around that very carpenter I mentioned.

But all of them, and there are sadly many of them, have, it seems to me, lost that very same factor that the two men above championed with their lives and actions. In failing, they have failed to produced men like these two, and the effects such men have on others and the world. Instead they have gone the way of the world, the way of the Inferior men, as the Chinese sages called them, the men who lack the broad scope of understanding and compassionate feeling needed to know the hearts of others. They have imprisoned themselves within a world of their own making, and sanctioned it with the will and authority of their God. In doing so they have created the splintered and tortured world we now live in, where men neither trust each other, nor work together for the benefit of all others. Although they condone love and all virtuous conduct within their own sphere, they fail to be able to penetrate or even understand the reality of those in similar groups, and thus are forever divided and isolated from each other, prisoners of their own God and his rules, they affect the world by only further dividing it.

They fail because they fail to acknowledge two very important facts of human nature: man has free will; and man creates and molds his own reality, and his own truths and meanings.

Limited in their views by the truths and meanings they believe their God has bestowed on their own group, they cannot even fathom the truths or meanings of others. They have embraced the very thing they say they deny: self.

So now I will speak of the vital force they have unconsciously forgotten but have so vociferously promoted, what I call Universal Love. I call this a force instead of a feeling because even though we experience it as a feeling, it is the force or underlying energy that creates the agency I call the GOOD. Enveloped in the influence of this agency man can know and influence the minds and hearts of others and shape the destiny of all in accordance with it. In following it, man is beyond the influence of what man calls evil, and can never cause harm to others.

Why can’t I describe a perfect love? The trouble seems to lie in the fact that perhaps it doesn’t exist in this world we term a mortal world; or perhaps because we can never fully understand a world without self. After all, life means self; or self gives meaning to life; or better yet, self is life. Self defines our outlook, since we really only know the world through it. But we live in two different worlds, the world of space, time and matter, or the mortal world, and the world of the mind, that world where self seems to live.

Self, will 1 , and purpose are very closely tied together. As mortals the definition of self creates the drive for survival in a world that is on the whole hostile to mortal life. All behavior is ultimately tied to a purpose produced through what we term the self. It is through self that we assume distinct human identities, and forge around this identity the view of everything else in the world. So self defines the viewpoint through which the survival and perpetuation of the self is achieved. Mortal human life can be defined as this very process itself: the creation and perpetuation of the individual self. But at the very moment we create such a definition, and are nodding our assent to it, it occurs to us that there is something missing, something more involved. In fact this thought comes to us through going outside of that very viewpoint we said defined our will; in fact it is our ability to look beyond the self that tells us that there is something more involved. This thing, which we may call an intuition, allows us to look beyond self and consider all of our kind when we define the human. By assuming this species-wide view we have defined the individual in terms of the whole instead of the self. An individual is not a means of self-preservation but a means of propagating the human species. So which definition is true?

Both are true and equally valid. For the self cannot survive without the species or the species without the self. In man the culmination of this is human society. But the self is understandable in terms of the survival of the individual identity, while the viewpoint that puts us in touch with the species is not. So where does it come from?

Some will say it is a leftover instinct in man, derived from the maternal instinct, but that doesn’t really answer the question, but only phrases it differently.

All life except maybe single cell existence entails predation. Life feeds on life to continue existence, to survive. We feed on the lower creatures to continue to live ourselves. But in the higher forms of life, there is a respect for creatures of the same kind. And at the level of man there is also an emotional respect involved. This emotional respect entails a mental outlook that enables humans to acquire a similar mental viewpoint, as other individuals of his kind would adopt. It is called empathy. Also it is very similar to what human beings call “romantic love”, or love between the sexes. The important thing, that all of these have in common, is the exclusion of the self to a greater or lesser extent. Even if these are all originally sprung from the maternal instinct, then in man they acquire a much more elaborated mental component or energy, which I term love.

This energy or force acts as a sort of gravity that draws humans together; in romantic love it draws the male and female together; in familial love it draws the family members together. It is also the basis of human friendship, and thus is the basis of human society. Finally it is also thought to be the basis of the religious tendency in man.

I have said that this love is a force or energy, and as such it is a cause of change internally in man’s psyche, a motivation. But in order for this energy to produce results there must also be a corresponding mental mechanism, or agency, which transforms this energy into the mental changes it causes. That agency is what I term the GOOD.

As I have said in other essays, man’s reality is presented to him not as distinct objects, but as a whole perception, or Gestalt. From this, through an interaction with his will or self, individual objects are created and defined within his reality. The will and its viewpoint are essential in the creation of this reality as an assembly of objects. Further truth and meaning are totally dependent on this reality and the individual interpretation it is given. Although the reality is deemed to be a representation of another unknowable world, its ultimate interpretation is a personal one, built through the individual’s own interpretations of the mental objects he has created.

Certain aspects of man’s reality, like death, the unlimited variation of physical attributes in objects, and the inability of physical objects to completely conform to the ideal of mental objects or concepts, allows man to create the idea of the imperfection, or mortality of the world he perceives. As opposed to this, the great generality, or generic aspects of mental concepts allows him to conceive of the concept of perfection, a type of unity not achievable in the physical world of imperfection.

The mortal world in its absolute uniqueness of the individual objects it contains, implies the “many”, or the ideas of separation and division; while, on the other hand, the mental world of concepts and generality, implies the “one”, or the ideas of unity and the whole. Since self or will separates the individual from the rest of his kind, while love unites the individual with the rest of his kind, we can see how imperfection or mortality is the promoter of the self, while perfection becomes love, the promoter of the One, God. Thus God becomes the perfect, and the totality of all things. In this respect He is the perfect embodiment of the love force, devoid of all self or will or purpose.

Now this brings up what I pointed out above as the seeming contradiction that this type of language with respect to God holds out. God has no self, or will or purpose, for the very reason that all of these exist only in what is mortal or imperfect. They imply separation, which is a mortal or imperfect concept. Since God is perfect unity or the One, how can he exhibit a will or a purpose, which can only exist as the product of a will. For that matter referring to Him as “Him” or even “It” is inappropriate since “He” is not a will or individual intelligence at all. Thus language fails us with respect to God. Then what do I mean when I say “Divine Will”?

Divine Will is not so much a will but a tendency or constant state that exists in the universe, tending to follow a certain direction or path of change. It would correspond to something like the Tao in Oriental philosophy.

In the essay on “Will” I said that the Will can’t be explained but it can be known, through faith in a higher existence than our mortal one. But that higher existence is not like us as I described above, it is outside our way of understanding except that it promotes a state that tends to bring human life together for the greater good of all. Religions, having their origins in a time when rationality was still growing in man, were unable to deal with this concept except by attributing to God a human will, and a nature corresponding to the “Leaders” they were familiar with. These leaders were the ones who made laws and rules according to which everyone else lived. So God being the ultimate leader was also contemplated in this way. Thus they made God in their image. A supreme will that guided them according to the laws he set out in his "sacred" scriptures.

When that carpenter I mentioned above revealed a somewhat novel way of knowing this God, not only through the above method, but also by the method of Universal Love, he communicated this to these people using the above idiom of God then extant – God the ruler.

But the problem about this is that it leads man into the quandary of actually denying the very method that that carpenter promoted – the method of Universal Love. It does this by creating a closed society bound within a set of rules that exclude all those who do not believe them, or of a different group that believe another set of rules. The result is the 3000 years (this includes the Oriental philosophy that started in that direction about a thousand years before the religions of the West) of division we have seen, with the futile end that today we are no closer to uniting man then we were at the very beginning. If religion can only function to bring the “chosen” together instead of all, it has missed the whole point that it was instituted to obtain – the unity of man through Universal Love.

But if instead of conceiving of God as a Superior Will with self-oriented purpose (actually as an image of a mortal man), we see God as a state or tendency within the Universe to bring all people together in a Love that denies the mortal self; a state with a definite direction, yet without any preconceived purpose except all encompassing unity; we then can see religion as the various methods man practices to follow this (for him) purpose, all acceptable as long as they follow the same overall direction – Universal Love.

In the definition section of “The Philosophy of the GOOD” I defined the Id-Ego in conformity with the Cosmology I presented:

Id-Ego – This is another name for God or the totality of the Universe, expressed in an all-encompassing rationality with a purpose for humanity.

The “purpose” and “rationality” I mention here are not a purpose and rationality, similar to its human counterparts, but this same tendency and direction I have mentioned above. By excluding the idea of purpose and rationality and the mortal definition that goes with them, we are freeing the Id-Ego from identity with a “man-like creature or intelligence”, and all the motivations of a self, similar to what a human demonstrates. The only real purpose this “tendency” called “Divine will” or “Universal Love” demonstrates is the human purpose it builds in the human wills through which it acts.

So Universal Love is a tendency, with a definite direction that leads the lives of the human beings it acts on through the agency of the GOOD. It works through the human rationality and purpose this rationality creates, to mold man’s behavior, and through it the direction or progress of the world itself. Since it acts internally in man through an agency which all men have, but can only act through this agency at the direction of the human will which itself decides the outcome, the human still exhibits free will and determines his own course through life. The GOOD acts in man through the feelings, and the intuition; the latter is itself a tendency in man that exists in the human psyche, which presents the direction that is beneficial for the entire species of man.

The GOOD opens or frees man’s viewpoint, so that he may be able to be more amenable to the views of others, and thus allows man to work with others for the benefit of all. In following the path the GOOD promotes, man is enabled to follow the path of the Superior man (see above), and thus act as did Christ and Caesar, to read, and to know the minds and hearts of others. Thus in bringing man together with his fellows in love and understanding, he is brought to God.

We will never know if the idiom of a “ruler God”, with a Will, that is set forth in the Bible was something that Christ himself used, or something that his disciples interpreted into His words. All the teachings of Christ, set forth in the Bible, have been received secondhand in the least, through these disciples, or what the early Church believed to be their writings. The idiom is not even clear, and varies in the same manuscript; sometimes it sets forth the above “ruler God” in the same sentence that it sets forth the benevolent “God of Love”. The innovation of Christ was the idiom of love; and the ultimate act of the sacrifice of his own body for the furtherance of love in man; a man sacrificing himself for all other men, in the service of the love that existed in all hearts.

In many ways seeing God in the idiom of a ruling man with a will, was a type of confusion the apostles underwent because of Christ Himself, who was a man, yet the Son of God. He had to be fully a man, otherwise his sacrifice would have no meaning as it was intended. His aim was to show the Jews of His day that they were only one of many people, all of whom were God’s people. And further that God lived in the minds and hearts of all men as the spirit of Love. Was Christ really the Son of God? This is a matter of faith for the individual to decide. Does it really matter if He was or not? Not really, for He was a man who was totally a man, yet totally imbued with the force of Universal Love. He is said to have said two very significant things to his judge Pontius Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world …” 2 , and “… To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” 3 ; and to the High Priest’s agents: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.” 4

The truth Christ speaks of was the truth contained in the two great Commandments of God: Love. It is the theme and meaning of Christ’s life itself. It is found not in a book, or the organizations of man, but in each and every heart of every man that has ever lived on this earth. When man looks into his heart to find this love and acts in accordance with it he becomes a part of God. This frees him of the self and of the mortal existence, which causes him to injure or harm others. Thus he is free from the influence of evil.

When Christ said my kingdom is not of this world he meant that the petty separations that the mortal world presents to man in the form of rules, government, laws and even right and wrong were not what concerned him, for the kingdom of God was pure love where none of this existed, because it did not contain the self. He further reinforced this when he told the High Priest’s agents the above quote on Caesar. “Caesar” in this quote meant the governments or worldly authorities of man. He told them in plain language that that was not what he was concerned with. 5

Yet his disciples and the early Christians who followed them, the people who chronicled the life of Christ in the New Testament, took up the exact opposite of what Christ wanted, they followed the way of power, government, rulers, rules and regulations, rewards and punishments, persecutions, exclusion, and the suppression of speech and thought; in point of fact everything that upheld the self and denied the love that is God. The result was the Dark Ages and the bondage of the West in fanaticism, similar to the bondage that the Muslim fundamentalists practice in their terrorism today.

Even today, after the reformation and all the failure the 2000 thousand years of religion has shown, they still see religion as the book of rules and God as the Monarch, who rewards and punishes.

Again they should better read their own teachings and see God as St. John saw Him, at least at times, in the best definition of God that has ever been uttered: “God is Love”. And if they truly understand this, they will also understand that everyone must approach and find God in his own way; and that no way (and that is exactly what religion is: a way to God) is better or worse than another, if it lies along the path that God Himself follows: Love.

Finally, if we will ever find a way to unite this world it must be through love. Because love is the only rule, law, dictum, commandment or principle that every human being can understand. Religion is the method or way to find God. Every religion must use this “lingua franca” of the soul as the underlying basis of its own particular method.

This brings us to the purpose of religion. If religion is the method or way to find God, generally speaking, it must be modified by the “who” that is designated to use this method.

Today religion modifies that statement by designating that “who” as the righteous, or those who follow the “rules” or particular set of beliefs for that particular religion. Here is the very impasse that has halted every religion from making any progress at all, since prehistoric times. This was the very same “catch 22” that Christ Himself anticipated, and that He mentions in “judge not lest ye be judged”. This is the very same point that all the disciples even John could not fully understand or come to grips with; that “who” must be ALL, and only ALL human beings, without distinction.

The problem is that again we always seem to apply mortal standards to something that has nothing to do with mortality. In the mortal world of man, laws, governments, and right and wrong all apply: this is that very same world of Caesar. This is that very same world that Christ told Pilate His kingdom was not a part of. This is that very same world where men judge one another, and punish each other to keep a rule of law and order. But this is not the world of God and His Love, nor the world of religion, which is the way or method to approach Him. Love is not of the earth, but of the deepest part of man’s mind, that part that religions call the soul or spirit. The world does not foster it, but in a way shuts us off from it through hardship, misery and even prosperity; in fact, it shuts us off from it through all the contrivances that further or injure the self. When man denies self he finds the love that Christ spoke of. When man denies self he finds all other human beings, and has found the place where none of the above things of “Caesar” apply. When man denies self he has found the only way to stop the conduct that is destroying our world and all human society. When man denies self, he will find the unity that will bring the world of “Caesar” in line with the world of God.

Even as I write all of this I see how difficult it is to achieve these things. Self is the hardest thing in the world to deny because it is what we are. I say these things but I can’t come close to the heart of the love I mention, and myself fail continually in practicing what I preach. But I criticize not with the idea of destroying but of reforming failure into success. Exclusion must not be the byword of religion, only through including all can religion offer man anything. If man approaches religion only through the names of Gods, or the rules of practice instead of through sincere ideals kindled in the spirit of unselfish love for all, he will continue to experience the disintegration of his world. The world will continue to shut him off from the very thing he must know to save himself and all others. But those who would profit the most won’t hear or see any of this; they will always be blinded by their own illusions, and deaf to all ideas but their own. In the words of José Ortega Y Gasset: “… How shall I talk of life with the sage, if he is the prisoner of his doctrine?” 6




FOOTNOTES

To return to note's origin click the footnote number at left



1 I equate “will” with self.

2 St. John, 18:36; King James Version of the Bible.

3 St. John, 18:37-38; King James Version of the Bible.

4 St Luke, 20:25; King James Version of the Bible.

5 That “other world” that is so often mentioned in the Bible, is today used by the religious zealots, fanatics, and cultists to justify the imposition of their own Laws among men. But that ‘world’ is a world of only a few; and all religions ultimately create it according to their own picture, which their beliefs suggest, or their own picture of God entails. Ultimately, that “other world” is a personal matter between the individual soul and God; religion being the structure I have outlined above is primarily concerned with this world, and the harmony and unity in this world that it should be creating.

6 From the book: “Mission of the University”, Princeton University Press, 1944.

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Originally Published:

December 20, 2008

Revised:

July 3, 2014