Individual Love and the Spiritual Transformation

The question of human relationships, the action of love within the scope of those relationships, is one of the more difficult questions that confronts the spiritual seeker throughout history. There is an enormous risk noted and acknowledged when a seeker attempts to accept the role of love in human relationships while aspiring to achieve spiritual realisation. Most spiritual paths have therefore asked the seeker to refrain from expressions of love toward people and objects in the outer world, and to channel the force of love towards divine service, devotion and the soul’s adoration of the divine.

At the same time, we are able to recognize that there is a divine purpose in the manifestation, that in fact the entire manifestation is an expression of the divine, and there must, therefore, be some truth and reality to the human relationships and the bonding that occurs between people. And some paths take up the challenge actively to confront the force of human love and accept it as a path of realisation.

Normal human expressions of love have been distorted and tainted by the vital force of desire, which is particularly strong in matters of sexual relations in particular. The sexual attraction is easily activated when the heart bestows its love on someone, and thus, the opportunity for serious distractions and distortions arises.

Sri Aurobindo addresses the issue by indicating the necessity for a change of standpoint and the corresponding change in the quality and tenor of the relationships that take place in the worldly activities of the seeker:

“Although it is a divine love for the supreme and universal Divine that must be the rule of our spiritual existence, this does not exclude altogether all forms of individual love or the ties that draw soul to soul in manifested existence. A psychic change is demanded, a divestiture of the masks of the Ignorance, a purification of the egoistic, mental, vital and physical movements that prolong the old inferior consciousness; each movement of love, spiritualised, must depend no longer on mental preference, vital passion or physical craving, but on the recognition of soul by soul,-love restored to its fundamental spiritual and psychic essence with the mind, the vital, the physical manifesting instruments and elements of that greater oneness. In this change, the individual love also is converted by a natural heightening into a divine love for the Divine Inhabitant immanent in a mind and soul and body occupied by the One in all creatures.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 6, The Ascent of the Sacrifice-2, The Works of Love–The Works of Life, pp. 148-149