Love of God

~Frithjof Schuon

Love seems to be the only element capable of uniting the soul to God, for it alone is desire of possession or union—a desire whose sublimation can engender the greatest sacrifices—whereas knowledge, as seen from this point of view, appears on the contrary as a static element having no operative or unitive virtue. 

To adopt this standpoint is either a question of terminology—and then “knowledge” is taken to mean only theory while “love” is held to exclude no mode of spiritual union—or it shows a misconception of metaphysical “consciousness”, which is an eminently concrete participation in transcendent realities: far from denying love or the fear that is its complement, this consciousness embraces them in surpassing them, and because it surpasses them.

Before being able to “love” it is necessary to “be conscious”; the sun pours out light before heat, as is proven by the visibility of immeasurably distant stars; and to be conscious in the sense that interests us here is to fix the heart in the Real, in permanent “remembering” of the Divine. Fear distances from the world, and love brings near to God; but consciousness “is” already something of its content or aim; it is true that this observation is valid for other spiritual modes as well, but in a less direct way since intellective consciousness alone transcends human subjectivity by definition. In a certain sense love saves because it includes the whole subject, whereas consciousness delivers because it excludes it.

Within the framework of gnosis, love has something impersonal about it because the love of man for God joins in a sense with that of God for man. The divine quality of “love” is everywhere, being in the very substance of the Universe, “created by love”; it belongs to no single person and embraces all; it is derived in short from the supreme Beatitude, which is at the same time divine Contemplation and creative Will. 

All men have the need in some degree or another to understand and to love; but there are men who understand only love and act through it alone, just as there are others who are stirred only by sapiential consciousness; the element “truth” then takes precedence over the element “life”, if one may so express it. The fundamental contemplation of these souls—and not the sharpness of their intelligence on lower planes—is equivalent to a need for total truth and cannot be stopped by formal screens, any more than light can come to rest in space; for these screens, being symbols, are transparent, only the blind believing them to be opaque. 

Contemplativity implies furthermore a certain natural distance with regard to the world, not only because things appear in their metaphysical “translucence”—outward alternatives then lose much of their importance—but also because the human world is shown up in all its absurdity, so that the simple fact of enduring it is already a form of asceticism.

From: Gnosis: Divine Wisdom