We want to consider whether it’s possible to love everyone. Love is one of the eight qualities or aspects of God. Just as a prism splits a white light into the seven colors of the rainbow, so also is the light of God split into different qualities or aspects, one of the chief ones being love.
That universal quality of love is what holds the universe together. In an impersonal physical sense, that love is expressed as the power of gravity, in which each of two objects exerts a force toward the other that draws them together. That love is also expressed in the emotional experience of love, between your heart and the hearts of others.
One of my first spiritual experiences was a vision in which I saw what appeared to be the “universal atom,” which looked like a soap bubble filled with iridescent colors. The center of the atom was filled with light, but mostly with the energy of love, which held the atom together. And I could see and feel that the core of every atom in the universe was love, and that every cell of everyone’s body was held together by this power of love.
The ego blocks the love of the soul
That same power of love is within each of us. At the soul level, we are united with God. The ego is simply the soul confined by what Swami Kriyananda called a “bundle of self-definitions.” The soul expresses universal love but the ego, with its bundle of self-definitions, begins to block that love. The ego begins to say, “No, that love isn’t universal. After all, I don’t love criminals or people who hate other people. And I don’t like this person, therefore I can’t love him.”
We can think of love as light radiating everywhere by the power of the sun, and the ego as covering the sun with little spots, trying to block its power. The ego cannot love everyone because the nature of the ego is to define itself by likes and dislikes. But as soon as we’ve removed our self-imposed blocks of likes and dislikes, as Patanjali says, we automatically realize ourselves as the soul.
Friendship is an especially beautiful expression of love because it is the one relationship in which there’s no sense of compulsion, nor is it driven by desire. We should try to feel behind that friendship the universal love of God.
We should try to feel that love especially for the people we see every day, even if some of their qualities annoy us. People often say, “because of a certain person’s actions, I don’t love that person.” Swami Kriyananda would always correct that attitude. He said that we can love people without loving their actions.
Is it possible to love evil people?
Years ago we were living in the Ananda ashram in San Francisco with our son, who was then three or four years old. He must have been feeling he had done something bad because he asked Kriyananda, “Swamiji, do you love bad people?” Kriyananda gave a beautiful answer. He said, “Yes, I love bad people. I don’t always love the bad things that they do.” That satisfied our little son because he could see then, “Well, I’m loved even though I did something bad.”
One of the questions people often ask is, “How can I love people who are evil?” Swami Kriyananda had a superconscious dream which answered that question. In this dream he saw all kinds of people, criminals and Mafiosi, good people and bad people. He could see behind the personalities and he realized that everyone in the world is seeking the same thing – happiness. They may express that differently in their actions, but they’re all seeking happiness.
He has told that story a number of times because even one instance of transcending those attitudes which divide us from other people, including people who do evil things, is a very powerful spiritual experience. We can all have that experience: We can love everyone in the world. We don’t have to love their actions but we can love them, and when we do so, the power of God’s love will flow through us and change us.
There is a statement by the Buddha which is a little daunting but good to share in this context. The Buddha told his followers, “You should love everyone because in one former incarnation or another everyone has been dear to you, everyone in the world.” Eight billion people! This understanding gives us a more personal way to approach this subject.
Jyotish has explained that love is not merely a response to people or things – it is a quality and a capacity we all have. If we wait for people or circumstances to be a certain way before we give our love or acceptance, then we will wait many lifetimes. But if we can truly say, “I have the capacity to love under all circumstances,” then nothing can take that away from us.
Our innate capacity to love
Jyotish referred to Swami Kriyananda’s superconscious dream which showed him how it was possible to love everyone. After the dream, Kriyananda wrote, “The more bliss I feel, the more I find everyone in the world utterly lovable.” He was speaking of our innate capacity to love.
This is a very important concept for us to understand. What we try to do in meditation is raise the energy in the subtle astral body from the lower to the higher chakras. The lower chakras relate to security and control. If our energy is focused mainly in these lower centers, our response when something threatens us is to withdraw inwardly. But the more we raise that energy to the higher chakras, starting with the heart chakra, the more that center of devotion and love opens, and the more our love flows out to everyone.
There was a very saintly Dutch woman named Corrie ten Boom who lived with her father and sister in Amsterdam during the Second World War. They were a Christian family, and they responded to the injustice of the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews by helping many Jews escape from Nazi-controlled territory. When someone informed on them, Corrie, her older sister Betsy, and their elderly father were arrested. Their father died shortly afterwards but Betsy and Corey were sent to a concentration camp where they were cruelly treated, and Betsy died.
The power of a love that is not ours
Corrie survived the brutality and was later released. She soon began traveling and speaking all over the world about how love for God had sustained her in the concentration camp, and about the importance of forgiveness.
After one of her lectures, a man approached her whom she recognized as one of the guards from the concentration camp. He had seen the error of his ways, but when he thrust out his hand to shake hers, Corrie was unable to lift her hand. Angry, vengeful thoughts coursed through her mind. In desperation, she prayed to Jesus Christ to help her forgive this man.
The moment she prayed, she was able to take his hand, and she felt a love in her heart for this man that almost overwhelmed her. That moment was one of the highlights of her life, because she realized that God’s love can flow through us no matter what happens. She had felt the power of a love which is not ours to give or hold back.
If we say, “Well, I have only this much love and I’ll dole it out here and there,” then we are diminished. But if we explore the farthest limits of our capacity to love, we then begin to touch the hem of the garment of God’s infinite love for all.
That infinite love is within you
To experience that love, we can start by bringing our inner energy to the heart chakra, and letting that center expand until we feel that no person or situation is excluded from our love. The next step is to bring our energy higher up, into the throat chakra, the center of peace and calmness. As we do that, we feel that no matter what happens, we are centered in that peace, and nothing and no one can hurt us.
Finally, by bringing our inner energy all the way up to the spiritual eye, at the point between the eyebrows, our very perception of the world around us becomes filled with love and God’s bliss. That’s why Swami Kriyananda could say, “The more bliss I feel, the more I find everyone in the world is truly lovable.”
The capacity to love everyone is ours, and the more we accept it, the more bliss we feel, and the more we feel one with God. There is a beautiful prayer by Paramhansa Yogananda in which he says, “Resign yourself to the infinite love within you.” We have to learn to let down the barriers we’ve placed upon our capacity to love and say, “I will relax into that infinite love within me.”
Exclude no one from your love
We need to remember that the power of love is infinite. It is unlimited and without definition. The world desperately needs this quality of love. So many people are confused and filled with hatred, greed, and violence. God’s infinite love is there, but we have to be the channels for that love and let Him flow through us.
Is it possible to love everyone? I would turn that around and say: The more we feel God’s presence, the more impossible it becomes not to love everyone. We begin to see that everyone, as Kriyananda saw in his vision, is seeking the same goals we’re seeking, although doing it in different and sometimes confused ways.
This topic is so important that we need to put it not as a question, but as a determination to live our lives in such a way that no one is excluded from our love, even those we don’t know. As that flow of love, that capacity for love, is rekindled in this world, the world will become a more harmonious place. We ourselves can be channels of that love if we understand that it’s always flowing through us, and if we no longer see the world in terms of, “This I love and this I don’t love.”
Paramhansa Yogananda used a beautiful phrase in Autobiography of a Yogi. He said, that divine sight is “center everywhere, circumference nowhere,” meaning that nothing is excluded from divine vision. Let nothing be excluded from the divine quality of love that you emanate throughout your life.
Nayaswami Jyotish and Nayaswami Devi are Spiritual Directors of Ananda Sangha Worldwide. Swami Kriyananda, in his Last Will, Testament, and Spiritual Legacy, named Nayaswami Jyotish as his “spiritual successor.”