We arrived in Calgary, Canada, last week, and at the airport to greet us was my sister in-law along with her new three month old baby. This was the first time I had met my niece, as Jeff and I have been traveling and living in India for the past nine months.
It was amazing to observe the amount of love that this beautiful little being could draw out of every person who came into her sphere of influence. It reminded me that at the very core of every human being there is a deep need not only to be loved, but to also give love, and at the heart of every personal relationship there is the promise of possibility for the wellspring of love to open.
When Mother Teresa opened her mission in San Francisco, one of the wealthiest cities in one of the richest countries on the planet, people asked her “why there?” What could the people of San Francisco possibly need from the Sisters of Charity? Her reply was, “there is hunger for ordinary bread, and there is hunger for love, for kindness, for thoughtfulness; and this is the great poverty that makes people suffer so much.”
We all need love. It is an essential part of what we are as human beings, and is every bit as necessary to life as nourishment is for the body.
All of the world’s great religions reiterate this message in different ways: love is our real nature. Mechthild of Magdeburg was a medieval mystic and Benedictine nun, who wrote: “The soul is made of love, and must ever strive to return to love. Therefore, it can never find rest nor happiness in other things. It must lose itself in love.” In other words, our hunger for love is a profound yearning to reconnect with our essential Self, which is fundamentally spiritual in nature.
There is a great misconception that a ‘spiritual practice’ will take you out of the world, and that living a spiritual life means turning your back on your family or community, and cloistering your self far away from society.
In actuality, our spiritual practices should enrich our relationships with others, not only with our family and friends, but with strangers as well. As we become more established in the practices of yoga and meditation, our ability to act selflessly expands more and more, and consequently, our ability to love deepens and allows us to embrace all living beings. In the Bhagavad-Gita, this spiritual path is called: The Way of Love.
The Bible states: “God is Love.” Deepening and strengthening our relationships with one another is a sure way to manifest the grace of God in our daily lives. Evidently, as we create more and more love in our relationships and interactions with each other, we will start to uncover our connection to that Divine Reality that is most often called “God.”
Through our yoga practice we can begin to integrate this Reality of Love into our personality, consciousness, and conduct. Yoga is about creating union. True union has love at its core, and only through the cultivation of unconditional love can a genuine transformation occur.