Love Versus Fear; Which One?
Love is the reason for the creation of the universe. It is also the bond between all things, and the light of existence and its life. Since man is the most comprehensive fruit of existence, a love so overflowing as to invade the whole universe has been included in the heart of that fruit, which is its seed or core. One who deserves such an infinite love may therefore only be one with infinite perfection.
Therefore, there are in man’s nature two faculties, one being the means of fear, the other, of love. In whichever case, that love and fear is felt for either the created or the Creator. Fear of the created is a painful affliction, and love of the created, a troublesome pain. For you fear such things or persons that they neither have mercy on you nor accept your request. If this is so, fear of the created is a painful trouble. As for love of the created, those you love either do not care for you, or as is the case with your youth and your possessions, leave you without saying farewell. Do you not see that ninety-nine percent of lovers complain of their beloved ones. Because love of the idol-like worldly beloved from the bottom of one’s heart, which is the mirror of the Eternally-Besought-of-All, is unbearable in the view of the beloved ones and therefore rejected. For man naturally rejects and repels what is unnatural and undeserved. (Animal love is out of question here.)
In short, those that you love either do not care for you or belittle you or do not accompany you. Contrary to your desire, they leave you. Since this is so, turn your fear and love toward such a One that your fear will be a pleasant humility and your love, happiness free of humiliation. Fearing the All-Majestic Creator means finding a way to His Compassion and taking refuge in Him. In fact, fear is a “whip“ to stimulate one into the embrace of His Compassion. As is known to everybody, a mother frightens her child away from something or someone and attracts him into her arms. That fear is very pleasurable for the child because it draws him into the arms of care and compassion. However, the care and compassion shared by all the mothers in the world is only a ray from the Compassion of God. That means, there is a very great pleasure in fear of God. If there is such great pleasure in fear of God, you can understand what infinite pleasure there is in love of Him. Furthermore, the one who fears God is freed of the worrying, troublesome fear of others, and his love of created beings in the Name of God does not cause pain and separation.
Man’s first love, before all others, is himself. Then, he loves his family and kin, his nation, living beings, the world, and the universe. He has relations with each of these spheres. He takes pleasure in their satisfaction and happiness, and feels pain at their pain. However, since nothing remains in a fixed state in this tumultuous, ever-changing world, the heart of helpless man is continuously wounded. The things he clings to slip out of his hands, scratching, cutting them. He always remains in pain, or throws himself into the drunkenness of heedlessness. Since this is so, if you have a sound mind, give all the love you divide among beings to the One Who deserves it truly, and be saved from all those pains and troubles. Only One Who owns infinite perfection and beauty deserves infinite love, and only when you are able to assign that love to its rightful owner, then for His sake and in respect of their being mirrors to Him, you may love all things without suffering any pains and troubles. That is, that love must not directly be assigned to existence for the sake of existence itself. Otherwise, while being a most pleasurable divine grace, love becomes a most painful ailment.
There is another aspect of the matter, which is this: You assign your love to yourself. You idolize yourself and see it as worthy of adoration, which must be assigned to God only. You sacrifice everything for your self, and revere it as though the Lord. Whereas, something is loved either for its perfection-for perfection is loved because of itself-or for its benefit or the pleasure it gives or the good it brings or something else of a similar nature. Now, I have convincingly argued in some of the Words that your nature is “kneaded together” out of defect and deficiency, and destitution and impotence. In the same way as darkness shows the strength of light proportionally to its density, according to the rule of contrasts, you should act, through those essential elements of your nature, as a mirror to the All-Majestic Creator’s Perfection, Grace, Beauty, Power, and Mercy.
So, you should cherish not love but enmity for yourself [because it tries all the time to seduce you] or have pity on it. Or after it has attained to the rank of being a peaceful self due to its full conviction of the truth of the principles of faith and satisfaction in worship, you should show care and mercy to it.
If you love your (carnal) self, since it is addicted to pleasure and always looks after its own interest, it means you have been captivated by pleasure and self-interest. Do not prefer such pleasures and self-interest, which are quite insignificant, to boundless true pleasures and advantages. Do not be like a firefly! For it drowns all its friends and everything it loves in the fright and solitude of darkness, and contents itself with a tiny glow of its own. You should love the Eternally Beloved One in Whose favor, together with your animal pleasures and interests, the interests of all the beings with whom you have relations and from whom you receive benefits and whose happiness makes you feel happy, originate. By doing that, you may take pleasure in the happiness of all of them, and receive the same infinite pleasure as that which you receive from the Absolutely Perfect One.
Your intense love for yourself is, in fact, the innate love for His Essence, which you unconsciously carry in yourself but wrongly appropriate for yourself. That being the truth, tear apart the “Ego” in yourself and show “Him.” Also, all the instances of love, which you share among the beings in the universe, are, in fact, the love implanted in your being for Him, because of the misappropriation of which you suffer pains and troubles. For the return of an “illicit” love cherished for those that are unworthy of it is pitiless ailment. The Eternal, Beloved One, through His Names of Most Merciful and Compassionate has created an abode like Paradise full of hours, where you will be able to satisfy all of your bodily desires. Through His other Names He has prepared for you in that Paradise eternal favors with which to meet all the needs of all of your immaterial faculties including your spirit, heart, intellect and innermost senses. In each of His Names are numerous immaterial treasuries of favor and munificence. An atom of love for the Eternal Beloved may compensate for the whole universe. Rather, the whole universe cannot compensate for a single particular manifestation of His love.
By Bediuzzaman Said Nursi