Beyond Human Love — Psychic Love, Universal Love and Love for the Divine

We seek for love, we look for it in our relationships, we search for it in a ‘soul mate’, but in the end, we can recognise that human love is limited and uncertain. There are examples of love that spans a lifetime, possibly multiple lifetimes, and there are countless tales of idealised love that overcomes all obstacles and remains true to the end. Yet, in the vast array of human lives, these relatively few examples are lost in the immensity of the situations that do not work out quite this way.

Human love seems to be a first rung on the development of interaction that has the potential to go beyond the narrow limits of individual desire, craving and lust. Even if our first experiences are entirely for our own individual pursuit of pleasure or enjoyment, as we mature we begin to consider the needs of a wider individuality, a significant other, children, parents, siblings, extended family. Eventually, we reach a point where we recognise that even the most expansive and selfless forms of human love are pale imitations of the greater forms of love that await our growth.

In the Taittiriya Upanishad there is a famous chapter that describes the successively higher levels of Ananda, bliss. The first level is the human level of the individual who has all the positive attributes and opportunities in his life. Yet, there are successive stages that provide bliss far more intense and powerful than the measure of one human being’s bliss. This same scale could be utilized to illustrate the successive levels of love that are available as we evolve and grow.

Sri Aurobindo briefly outlines the nature of psychic love, which removes the self-seeking and self-gratification elements from the expression. He then goes on to describe universal love which encompasses all beings in the creation in an embrace that is not based in attachment and self-seeking. Thereafter there is the pure love for the Divine, which unites the being with the object of love in a complete and accepting way.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “Human love is mostly vital and physical with a mental support — it can take an unselfish, noble and pure form and expression only if it is touched by the psychic. It is true, as you say, that it is more usually a mixture of ignorance, attachment, passion and desire. But whatever it may be, one who wishes to reach the Divine must not burden himself with human loves and attachments, for they form so many fetters and hamper his steps, turning him away besides from the concentration of his emotions on the one supreme object of love.”

“There is such a thing as psychic love, pure, without demand, sincere in self-giving, but it is not usually left pure in the attraction of human beings to one another. One must also be on one’s guard against the profession of psychic love when one is doing sadhana, — for that is most often a cloak and justification for yielding to a vital attraction or attachment.”

“In yoga friendship can remain but attachment has to fall away or any such engrossing affection as would keep one tied to the ordinary life and consciousness.”

“One can have a psychic feeling of love for someone, a universal love for all creatures, but one has to give oneself only to the Divine.”

“The love of the sadhak should be for the Divine. It is only when he has that fully that he can love others in the right way.”

“There is a love in which the emotion is turned towards the Divine in an increasing receptivity and growing union. What it receives from the Divine it pours out on others, but freely without demanding a return — if you are capable of that, then that is the highest and most satisfying way to love.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 11, Human Relationships in Yoga, Friendship, Affection and Love, pp 323-328

1 thought on “Beyond Human Love — Psychic Love, Universal Love and Love for the Divine

  1. “There is a love in which the emotion is turned towards the Divine in an increasing receptivity and growing union. What it receives from the Divine it pours out on others, but freely without demanding a return — if you are capable of that, then that is the highest and most satisfying way to love.”

    When feeling “separate” I return to a simple instruction to realign with All, “Remember Him.” These words words, offered by Anandamayi Ma, assert, “This is all we need to do.”

    Simple enough. Yet remembering to remember, remains a challenge!

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