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This page contains religious views on topic of love.
Whether religious love can be expressed in similar terms to interpersonal love is a matter for philosophical debate. Religious 'love' might be considered a euphemistic term, more closely describing feelings of deference or acquiescence. Most religions use the term love to express the devotion the follower has to their deity, who may be a living guru or religious teacher. This love can be expressed by prayer, service, good deeds, and personal sacrifice. Reciprocally, the followers may believe that the deity loves the followers and all of creation. Some traditions encourage the development of passionate love in the believer for the deity. Refer to Religious Views below. The tension between religious love of the other and self-affirmation is resolved in part by contrasting both love and self-affirmation with their impostors. Further analysis and references about such contrasts are summarized by Roderick Hindery in comparative religious contexts and in the framework of love as confirming the other.
Specific Religious views
In alphabetical order:
Bahai says, "This is the truth and there is naught beyond the truth save error. Know thou assuredly that-
Love is the mystery of divine revelations! Love is the effulgent manifestation! Love is the spiritual fulfillment! Love is the light of the Kingdom! Love is the breath of the Holy Spirit inspired into the human spirit! Love is the cause of the manifestation of the Truth (God) in the phenomenal world! Love is the necessary tie proceeding from the realities of things through divine creation! Love is the means of the most great happiness in both the material and spiritual worlds! Love is a light of guidance in the dark night! Love is a bond between the Creator and the creature in the inner world! Love is the cause of development to every enlightened man! Love is the greatest law in this vast universe of God! Love is the one law which causeth and controlleth order among the existing atoms! Love is the universal magnetic power between the planets and stars shining in the lofty firmament! Love is the cause of unfoldment to a searching mind, of the secrets deposited in the universe by the Infinite! Love is the spirit of life in the bountiful body of the world! Love is the cause of the civilization of nations in this mortal world! Love is the highest honor to every righteous nation!
(Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v3, p. 525)
Karunā is compassion and mercy, which reduces the suffering of others. It is complementary to wisdom, and is necessary for enlightenment.
Advesa and maitrī are benevolent love. This love is unconditional and requires considerable self-acceptance. This is quite different from the ordinary love, which is usually about attachment and sex, which rarely occur without self-interest. Instead, in Buddhism it refers to detachment and unselfish interest in others' welfare.
The Bodhisattva ideal in Tibetan Buddhism involves the complete renunciation of oneself in order to take on the burden of a suffering world. The strongest motivation one has in order to take the path of the Bodhisattva is the idea of salvation within unselfish love for others.
|"Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."|
—1 Corinthians 13:4–7 (NIV)
In Works of Love (1847), Soren Kierkegaard, a philosopher, claimed that Christianity is unique because love is a requirement.
- Agapē. In the New Testament, agapē is charitable, selfless, altruistic, and unconditional. It is parental love seen as creating goodness in the world, it is the way God is seen to love humanity, and it is seen as the kind of love that Christians aspire to have for others.
- Philia. Also used in the New Testament, philia is a human response to something that is found to be delightful. Also known as "brotherly love".
- Eros (sexual love) is never used in the New Testament.
- Storge (needy child-to-parent love) only appears in the compound word philostorgos (Rom 12:10).
Saint Paul glorifies agapē love in the quote above from 1 Corinthians 13, and as the most important virtue of all: "Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away." (13:8 NIV).
Christians believe that because of God's agapē love for humanity he sacrificed his son for them. John the Apostle wrote, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:16–17 KJV)
Most Christians believe that the greatest commandment is "thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment"; in addition to the second, "thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself", these are what Jesus Christ called the two greatest commandments (see Mark 12:28–34, Luke 10:25-28, Matthew 22:37-39, Matthew 7:12; cf. Deuteronomy 6:5, Deuteronomy 11:13, Deuteronomy 11:22, Leviticus 19:18, Leviticus 19:34). See also Ministry of Jesus#General Ethics.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus said: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (NIV, John 13:34-35; cf. John 15:17). Jesus also taught "Love your enemies." (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27).
Most Christians also believe that God is the source and essence of love, "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." (1 John 4:8 KJV)
In Hinduism kāma is pleasurable, sexual love, personified by the god Kama. For many Hindu schools it is the third end in life.
In contrast to kāma, prema or prem refers to elevated love.
Karuna is compassion and mercy, which reduces the suffering of others.
Bhakti is a Sanskrit term from Hinduism meaning 'loving devotion to the supreme God'. A person who practices bhakti is called bhakta. Hindu writers, theologians, and philosophers have distinguished nine forms of devotion that they call bhakti, for example in the Bhagavatha-Purana and according to Tulsidas. The booklet Narada bhakti sutra written by an unknown author distinguishes eleven forms of love.
Prema has the ability to melt karma which is also known as the moving force of our past actions, intentions and reactions to our experience in life. When we love everything, the force of karma that is in relation to those things, events or circumstances slowly starts going towards peacefulness, relaxation and freedom and we find ourselves in a state of love.
In a sense, love does encompass the Islamic view of life as universal brotherhood which applies to all who hold the faith. There are no direct references stating that God is love, but amongst the 99 names of God (Allah), there is the name Al-Wadud or 'the Loving One', which is found in Surah 11:90 as well as Surah 85:14. It refers to God as being "full of loving kindness". In Islam, love is more often than not used as an incentive for sinners to aspire to be as worthy of God's love as they may. One still has God's love, but how the person evaluates his own worth is to his own and God's own counsel. All who hold the faith have God's love, but to what degree or effort he has pleased God depends on the individual itself. This
Ishq, or divine love, is the emphasis of Sufism. Sufis believe that love is a projection of the essence of God to the universe. God desires to recognize beauty, and as if one looks at a mirror to see oneself, God "looks" at itself within the dynamics of nature. Since everything is a reflection of God, the school of Sufism practices to see the beauty inside the apparently ugly. Sufism is often referred to as the religion of Love. God in Sufism is referred to in three main terms which are the Lover, Loved, and Beloved with the last of these terms being often seen in Sufi poetry. A common viewpoint of Sufism is that through Love humankind can get back to its inherent purity and grace.
|"And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might."|
In Hebrew ahava is the most commonly used term for both interpersonal love and love of God. Other related but dissimilar terms are chen (grace) and chesed, which basically combines the meaning of "affection" and "compassion" and is sometimes rendered in English as "loving-kindness".
Judaism employs a wide definition of love, both between people and between man and the Deity. As for the former, the Torah states: "Love your neighbor like yourself" (Leviticus 19:18). As for the latter, one is commanded to love God "with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might" (Deuteronomy 6:5), taken by the Mishnah (a central text of the Jewish oral law) to refer to good deeds, willingness to sacrifice one's life rather than commit certain serious transgressions, willingness to sacrifice all one's possessions and being grateful to the Lord despite adversity (tractate Berachoth 9:5, tractate Sanhedrin 74a). Rabbinic literature differs how this love can be developed, e.g. by contemplating Divine deeds or witnessing the marvels of nature (Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Yesoday HaTorah, Chapter 2).
As for love between marital partners, this is deemed an essential ingredient to life: "See life with the wife you love" (Ecclesiastes 9:9). The Biblical book Song of Songs is a considered a romantically-phrased metaphor of love between God and his people, but in its plain reading reads like a love song.
The 20th-century rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler is frequently quoted as defining love from the Jewish point-of-view as "giving without expecting to take" (from his Michtav me-Eliyahu, vol. I), as can be seen from the word for love ahava, as the root of the word is hav, to give. Romantic love per se has few echoes in Jewish literature, although the medieval rabbi Judah Halevi wrote romantic poetry in Arabic in his younger years (he appears to have regretted this later).
Different cultures have deified love, typically in both male and female form. Even though in monotheistic religions, the God is considered to represent love, there are often angels or similar beings that represent love as well. Here is a list of the gods and goddesses of love in different mythologies.
- Áine — goddess of fertility and passionate love in Irish mythology
- Amor or Cupid — god of passionate love in Roman mythology
- Antheia — goddess in Crete mythology of love, flowers, gardens, and marshes
- Aonghus or Aengus— god of beauty, youth, and sensual love in Irish mythology
- Aphrodite — goddess of beauty and passionate love in Greek mythology
- Astarte — goddess of love in Canaanite mythogy
- Eros — god of passionate love in Greek mythology
- Freyja — goddess of love, fertility and war in Norse mythology
- Haniel — angel of Venus, and of eros, in Judeo-Christian mythology.
- Inanna — goddess of love and war in Sumerian mythology
- Ishtar — goddess of love and war in Babylonian mythology
- Kama — god of sensual love in Hindu mythology
- Mihr — spirit of love in Persian mythology]
- Rati — goddess of passionate love in Hindu mythology
- Raphael — angel of love(agape) in Judeo-Christian mythology.
- Venus — goddess of beauty and passionate love in Roman mythology
- Xochipilli — god in Aztec mythology
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