If we examine the nature of love as we see it in human society, there is a considerable amount of expectation, as well as ‘bargaining’, in our expressions of love. We tend to expect that the object of our love will reciprocate and return a measure of love, or some other concrete manifestation of response. If we do not get what we expect, our love tends to sour or decline and we move on to other potential objects of love to get our expectation and needs fulfilled. As human love turns towards the Divine, similar reactions and expectations take place initially and thus, we expect to be ‘compensated’ or ‘rewarded’ for our devotion in some form, either in this life or in a future status, such as acceptance into heaven, etc. We expect our prayers to be answered, our needs to be met, our desires to be fulfilled.
Psychic love is a purer manifestation, that focuses on adoration and self-giving without expectation of any specific return as a condition. The act of self-giving is unconditioned and unconditional towards the Divine. Spiritual love identifies the seeker in oneness with the rest of the creation and widens the being to embrace all.
Sri Aurobindo notes: “When the love goes towards the Divine, there is still this ordinary human element in it. There is the call for a return and if the return does not seem to come, the love may sink; there is the self-interest, the demand for the Divine as a giver of all that the human being wants and, if the demands are not acceded to, abhimana against the Divine, loss of faith, loss of fervour, etc. etc. But the true love for the Divine is in its fundamental nature not of this kind, but psychic and spiritual. The psychic element is the need of the inmost being for self-giving, love, adoration, union which can only be fully satisfied by the Divine. The spiritual element is the need of the being for contact, merging, union with its own highest and whole self and source of being and consciousness and bliss, the Divine. These two are two sides of the same thing. The mind, vital, physical can be the supports and recipients of this love, but they can be fully that only when they become remoulded in harmony with the psychic and spiritual elements of the being and no longer bring in the lower insistences of the ego.”
Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 6, Sadhana Through Love and Devotion, Divine Love, The Emotions, pp. 162-164