The highest level of love is the love of God for Himself, and it is the Love that makes all other forms of Love possible. In fact, all forms of love are reflections, albeit often faint ones, of this supreme Love.

 

Seyyed Hossein Nasr The Garden of Truth: The Vision and Promise of Sufism, Islam’s Mystical Tradition

 

“Our willingness to see God within the natural and human orders can
be a source of pain as well as pleasure in our lives. Ours has always
been a strongly nonmonastic tradition. We view human love and true
attachment to others in an entirely positive light. Our ability to love
and to live in familial relationships and in close friendship is
testimony to the image of God in which we are made. But that very
ability to love is also a great source of human suffering. The natural
human drive to form attachments with others leads us to feel so keenly
the pain we know when those we love are hurt or are taken from us. Caring and hurting
go together in the human experience. There is no allowing ourselves to
love that does not also entail making ourselves vulnerable. This
vulnerability inevitably makes for pain. It is the very best in us, our
ability to open ourselves and to discover the divine image in the other,
that also allows us to be so terribly hurt. This is the way the human
being is designed. Sometimes we feel it is a flaw in our making. Yet we
know we would not want to hand over the ability to love for protection
against pain and loss. The human situation may indeed be a cruel one,
but we are not in a position to change it essentially, only to make it
more bearable through a measure of understanding.

This applies as well to types of pain that are not due to
relations with others. Our vulnerability to illness, accident, and other
forms of tragic hurt is an essential part of our mortality. Although we
could imagine a neater and cleaner world, one in which all human beings
might live to a predetermined age and then die without pain or anxiety,
making room for the next generation, such is not human life as we know
it. The insecurity of existence and our lack of knowledge about what
each tomorrow will bring are part of what give us the frailty that makes
us human.

It is in a nontraditional and yet somehow more than a
metaphorical sense that we say God cares about and participates in human
pain. If the human mind is part of that great collective mind that we
call the mind of God, and if the human heart is part of the one great
heart that is God’s, then human suffering is a part of the legacy that
remains forever bound up in the divine One. Such bits of human reality,
including both love and pain, which indeed seem utterly minuscule in the
whole divine scheme of things, nevertheless have their place within the
ongoing reality of Y-H-W-H and do not belong to us as individuals
alone.

The rabbis say that whoever takes a human life lessens the
divine image in the world. We might extend this to say that whoever
causes suffering to a human being brings pain to the presence of God as
it is manifest in that person. In this sense, we say that a Shekhinah who loves and cares is also a Shekhinah
who hurts, who suffers with us in our pain and loss. Among the Hasidic
teachings that have moved me most deeply is an interpretation of the
verse ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy’ as a
petition, rather than as a command. ‘Wherever you go I am there within
you,’ says the Shekhinah to the person. ‘Therefore, please
don’t take me anyplace defiled.’ The Divine within the person is hurt by
defilement and asks to be shielded from this needless pain. I would say
the same about suffering itself: the pain inflicted upon a person is
inflicted upon the divine presence that dwells within that person as
well. A way of life that avoids doing harm to human beings (including
oneself), as well as to animals, is a way of life by which a person is oseh hesed im kono, ‘acting kindly toward one’s Creator’.”

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