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This love that embraces everything is to be the standard for the love that should dwell in every man's heart and as a permanent memorial of a higher origin should also rule all thoughts, words and actions. This love, as does Mine, should know no other purpose than acting for the benefit of its fellowmen and fellow beings. Naturally, one cannot grant all one's neighbour's requests, but must refuse some if their granting would be more damaging than useful.
Look at Me! I love all of you with a love which you can neither comprehend nor return, but I still do not say 'Yes' to your numerous requests, - more often 'No'. Why? Because you often desire things that would be detrimental to you. And even if this refusal brings upon you suffering and struggles, misfortune or the loss of dear ones, it is still he result of love, of your heavenly Father's love, Who has created everything for you, has suffered much for your sake, and keeps repaying ingratitude, mockery and disavowal with blessings.
This shows you how love must be understood if it is to lead to good instead of evil. This is how the love of your neighbour is to be understood. As a human father does not grant his immature children everything they desire in their lack of judgment, but always keeps in mind the higher purpose of education, thus you should also only do a good turn to your neighbour if you are convinced that, as far as you can judge, this would not promote some vice or encourage laziness in your neighbour instead of diligence.
This is the type of love with which I rule the world out of My wisdom. Thus you, too, should restrain and control with your intellectual power your urge to help, so that your noblest intentions may not have an adverse effect.
The second point that must be considered is: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself!" This, too, can be interpreted in as many ways as there are spiritual stages in human nature, beginning with self-abnegation right to extreme egoism. And here arises the question: "When is my self-love justified, useful to me and others?"
Only after this question has been answered, does it become clear which love is to be practised and how. You can see that, strictly speaking, the words "love" and "yourself" have quite different meanings than if looked at only superficially. The meaning of self-love must first be quite clear to you; you must know what you are supposed to love in yourself and how. Only then can you transfer your love onto others, or be able to judge with what love you have to treat others.
The instinct of self-preservation, of prolonging one's life and arranging it as pleasantly as possible, has been planted in every human being. This necessary instinct for the preservation of the external hull or casing for the spiritual man had to be planted deep within man, so that he would not, whenever he was in trouble during the course of his life, try to suppress this instinct and discard his body before the inner man had matured.
This instinct of self-preservation is so mighty and necessary that only people who disregard
everything spiritual, have no faith and no religion in the true sense of the word or have been weakened through a false philosophy of life or spiritual disorders in their life-organism, can come to a state where they would destroy their deep-rooted love for life and end their existence earlier than destined in the plan of My divine, universally valid laws.
The souls of such suicides will have a much harder road to perfection in the beyond because they were not mature when they left this world and entered the world beyond.
The second type of self-love is a higher one. It is the instinct to preserve and perfect the spiritual. Man seeks to adapt his spiritual self as much as possible to Him Who planted the spark of divine consciousness in him, thus raising him high above matter and placing him on the border of two worlds, so that with his physical body he belongs to matter and with his spirit to the spiritual world.
A lack or excess of self-love may be present in the material as well as in the spiritual nature of man.
The lack of material self-love expresses itself when a person is sick of life. Then the physical instinct of self-preservation weakens to such an extent that such a person often destroys his physical body when his earthly life presents some minor difficulties. This state is often called forth through the wrong upbringing, through non-belief in a God or a life of the soul after death, or through some mental disturbance.
The other extreme is an excess of self-love. Regarding his physical well-being as the most important factor in life, a man indulges only in the basest egoism. He makes use of all available means to achieve his purpose. For him nothing exists but his own ego and, denying any bond of neighbourly love, he is always only his own neighbour. Such people are on the lowest spiritual level, for they evade all struggles and sacrifices. They want only pleasures for themselves and use all means -whether they be permitted or prohibited, lawful or unlawful, divine or satanic – to achieve their end. Such self-love completely excludes all love of one's neighbour.
It can also be self-love if a person strives to educate and perfect his inner man only for his own sake, so that even his body becomes a burden to him and he would like to get rid of it as soon as possible.
Here you have the two extremes: Lack and excess of self-love, in the material as well as in the spiritual nature of man. If, however, a middle course is to be steered where one is not allowed to come too close to either of the extremes, the question arises how this affects the love of one's neighbour which should be guided by the self-love.
Here, too, the same applies which I explained at the beginning; moderate love, governed by reason, which keeps in mind the actual spiritual destination of man and the goal of his earthly life, is to steer self-love into such a course that the body may not suffer, or even become stunted under the influence of the spirit or the spirit under the influence of the body. Man should always keep in mind that his body has been entrusted to him, and just as he once will have to answer for his soul, he will also be asked: "Did you always use your body for what it was meant, or did you misuse it?" Thus man will not only be made responsible for his spirit and the talents entrusted to him, but simultaneously also for his material life.
Both spirit and body should be used, educated and controlled in such a way that I, the Giver, am considered in every action, thus branding it with the stamp of the divine. This way of thinking, acting and working shall also be the standard for the way you practise love towards your neighbour. This love shall grant the fellowman all that is good as far as it is in accordance with My own moral principles.
First of all, man must recognize in himself what he is capable of doing in order to be able to judge the capability of others. He must learn to distinguish in himself what is good and bad. He must learn what is of benefit or damaging to the spirit and what to the body, before he grants others out of blind love what could only ruin them instead of helping them to attain the higher goal. Therefore, first of all, regulate your self-love! If you keep it in a proper measure, your self-love will best lead you to the love of your neighbour. Only where clear notions are ruling can fully valid actions result; otherwise you will grope in the dark and misunderstand or misuse your love for the detriment of others. Everywhere in the world extremes are detrimental and lead to nothing, be it in love or hate, in giving or refusing, in speaking or remaining silent.
Therefore, whatever you do, keep in mind your higher destination and do not forget that you are men and not gods and that too much as well as too little love for oneself may lead to just as bad results as would too high or too low concepts of the love of one's neighbour be detrimental to one's fellowman rather than beneficial.
First, recognize your own weaknesses in order to be tolerant towards others. Test whether the granting of a request would have a good or bad effect on you yourself, and then handle your charities, your sacrifices for your fellowman accordingly. Nowhere else can as much damage be done as when the concept of the love of one's neighbour is taken literally.
Behold, I am your neighbour and I do everything to make you My neighbours, My brothers and sisters, even My children. However, notwithstanding all My love and wisdom, I am not prepared to give men all they ask of Me in their immaturity, since I, as a spirit, as the Supreme Spirit, know best what is good for My children, My spiritual brothers and sisters, because I want to educate and not spoil them.
Therefore, learn from Me how I am keeping together My entire creation, guiding all its parts together to the great goal of redemption from matter. Then, you will be sure to find the right way between giving and taking, granting and refusing. Then, the second great commandment of love will find its proper spiritual expression not only in the word but also in the deed, if you do to your neighbour what you - if you were in the same situation as your fellowman - as spiritual beings would consider best for yourselves. (The Lord’s Sermons, chap. 38)
- Sermon 43 -
Seventeenth Sunday After Trinity. The Greatest Commandment
St. Matthew XXII, 34-40: "But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
(April 24, 1872)
Concerning My reply to the Pharisee's question: "Which is the noblest commandment?" you have already been told quite a lot, and actually it would not be necessary to add any more regarding the two commandments of love: LOVE GOD ABOVE ALL AND YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF. However, since it is mentioned here specifically as a Sunday sermon, and since the Pharisees and scribes put Me to the test in an endeavour to find a point of accusation against Me, as My activity and My truths were annoying them, let us take a closer look at these two commandments. I shall explain to you in more detail the situation as it was then, as well as its spiritual analogy for the present time, so that you may find it easier to understand the correlation between My words and actions then and the present events.
In the days when I walked on earth the priesthood was as ambitious and greedy as it has been ever since, and anyone who wanted to limit or even destroy their power was, naturally, an enemy of the church because he was an enemy of the priests, tending to turn the people against them. This they would have felt very much where their influence was concerned, but even more so in their purse. So every time a teacher like Me appeared, whom they could not oppose very much because of the clarity of his words, they were intent on handing him over for punishment - under some pretext - to the existing political institutions as a dangerous rebel. In this they also succeeded, as the time of My ministry on earth was drawing to a close. Earlier, I had always evaded their traps, either in person or through well-considered answers to their insidious questions. In this chapter, you find various questions and attempts to implicate Me with the authorities, so that they might achieve their purpose without its appearing as if they were responsible for My arrest, because they feared the people who were attached to Me and followed Me. Therefore, they came with questions like the one about the tribute money and other similar ones. Also the question by one of the scribes: "Which is the greatest commandment?" was intended to trap Me, for this man expected from Me an answer which could be interpreted as disregard of the existing secular laws, whereupon the servants of the governor would have had a weighty reason for handing Me over to the courts. However, since I already knew their thoughts and designs in advance, I took good care not to give them any cause for false accusations. My answer turned out in accordance with what is contained in their laws, only My interpretation of these laws differed from theirs. The application of these laws and the way I wanted them to be followed was also different.
The two sole and most important commandments were also contained in the Mosaic laws.
However, the interpretation and explanation by the priests was so one-sided that the spiritual man derived little benefit from them and found it difficult to find the right approach to Me and to his fellowmen as well as to all creation, a relationship which still today is comprehended only by few as it should be from a spiritual point of view. In those times, people stuck to the letter and now, after almost 2000 years, they are still scrupulously sticking to it like flies to a lime-twig, anxious to be free, but lacking the strength to free themselves.
Although I called these two commandments the greatest, the Pharisee understood them as little as the answer to My question: "What think ye of Christ?" The answer was quoted from a psalm of David and showed them in perspective that ultimately everything will be subject to Me, the Lord of Creation, becoming a footstool for My feet to rest, which means, upon which My teaching will be erected as an edifice.
What it means to "love God above everything" only few comprehended then and only few do so now. And to many people it is not clear at all what is meant by the words "to love one's neighbour", a supplementary commandment to the first one.
To "love God above everything" is a phrase that is easy to say, but not so easy to understand and even harder to carry out. Here we must ask: "Why should men love God above everything?" - Thisquestion must be answered before love and its measure can be discussed.
Considering the question: "Why should I love God?" - the coldly reasoning person will answer:"Thinking about it, I actually find no reason why I should love God. Firstly, because I cannot love something invisible and, secondly, I do not owe any gratitude to the God Who created me, for He did not ask whether it suited me or not. He had only His pleasure of creating in mind and did not ask whether I, as the created being, would really be satisfied with My condition and the position He assigned to me among the other created beings, and whether I am feeling happy."
From these conclusions it would follow that there would be no obligation for man to love his Creator, even if He had placed him in the most fortunate circumstances, and much less so considering the hardships, suffering and misfortunes man has to struggle with from birth to death.
Should men love God for that, and even "above everything"? That would be asking too much! There are people who would like to say to their Creator: "If you had not created me as a human being you might still claim my love, but in these sad living conditions it would require just too much simplicity to love Him Who in some respects placed me below the animal, yet gave me the ability to be really conscious of my state and to deplore it!"
Behold, My children, this is the not unjustified opinion of the rationalist whose world is the cold reality, that is, what he sees before him, can touch with his hands and perceive with his senses. With some, this way of thinking has always been the basis for their actions, ever since men came into existence. Today your learned materialists preach this without fear, and they find a large audience that fully agrees with their views and even applauds them.
If, in this sermon, I once more touch upon the commandment: "You shall love God above everything!", it is done to point out to the majority of people their wrong views about Me and the world, including the relevant false conclusions, -for the sake of those who are still susceptible to other things, except being admirers of transient matter, and feel that there is still something better and deeper moving in their heart inducing them towards spiritual life.
If I have given a commandment, there must be some reason why it should be observed or complied with. Thus, there must be a reason why I described this commandment as the noblest and greatest in My creation, and why it was instituted for the latter's continuation, consistency and perfection.
With every law it is easy enough to see why it was given in a particular form and whether its motive was love and whether it was given for the benefit of others or in the law-giver's own interests.
Now, if I as the Creator lay down love as the principle law for My created beings that are like Me, love for their Creator, it is obvious that the reason for this law must also be recognizable in My instructions and a person must understand that -whatever happens - love is at the root of everything.
What actually is "love"? We have to clarify also this concept to give us a better judgment
Love is nothing else but a certain attachment to an animate or inanimate object. This attachment safeguards the preservation of this object to that degree to which it lays claim to our love. Among living beings love is an attachment or attraction to other beings with whom, due to their nature, there is emotional harmony. In the case of humans, the one who gives love also receives it in return. The loving person wants to remain with the loved one in a state of interchange with his thinking and feeling and, receiving love in return, as it were unite with that person to form a spiritual whole. Love which has no other goal than to see the loved one as happy as possible is also the quality that enables us to give the loved one everything, retaining nothing but the conviction of having made that person as happy as we can.
Only when a person has comprehended this love on the part of his God, Creator and Lord, can he easily understand the law of love demanding of him to love with all his heart and with the greatest possible intensity the God Who has given everything to make His created beings happy for all eternity.
But how does God prove this love which He has sacrificed for man to stimulate his human love into loving the Creator of the great universe above everything, above all that is of the world, the visible and invisible?
There are two ways that can prove and clearly demonstrate to a man the love of his Creator: First, the spiritual, invisible world within him and, second, the material, visible world around him. Both ways, although different in their expression, lead to the same goal, namely, to recognizing the Creator as the loving Lord and Father.
Let us now examine the first way.
In former times, when man's knowledge of nature was still more limited, scientists discovered many a starting point for the infinite, on a large scale as well as on a small scale. In those times it was the inner man with whom the enthusiastic lawgivers, like Moses, the Prophets and the seers, concerned themselves. They drew man's attention to his inner life and established as a law what men should actually do of their own accord.
In those times, this commandment of love for God was presented to men as a law, not as a commandment of love. That is why the Pharisee asked which was the greatest commandment,since he did not consider this one so important and may have believed he might receive an answer from Me referring to some civil law. For love, as I demanded it, was unknown to this Pharisee and to many other people in those times. Thus, notwithstanding these englightened times, to millions of the people living today love, which means something different from self-love, is an unknown thing.
In order to make this law of My great creation known and recognized, I Myself descended to your dark earth and demonstrated through word and deed what love for God and love for one's fellowman actually means. Thus I turned man away from his materialistic tendency and raised him to a spiritual being with its roots, its feet, on earth in the material, but lifting its head, or the spiritual flower, into regions that have no connection with matter.
Just as I explained the love of God to My contemporaries, I showed them through numerous parables, words and deeds what the love of one's neighbour is and how it must be understood and practised. I showed them how the second commandment of love for one's neighbour can only be fulfilled if first the love of God has been fully conceived in its spiritual meaning and how, vice versa, the love of God can only be genuine and pure if it is expressed as brotherly love for one's fellowmen and all the surrounding world.
The second way to prove God's love through nature, recognizing in it His voice on every step, was reserved for later centuries, although already at the time of My life on earth, and earlier still, the priesthood was more familiar with the secrets of nature than many people are even today. This voice, through which I wanted to give men countless proofs of My all-embracing love, remained unnoticed for a long time. Even now only few hear this voice in their explorations. Unfortunately, most of those who rake about in the field of natural science know only matter and the laws imposed upon it by Me, instead of hearing the soft call of love breathing to them from every atom, since a breath of love from My divine Self is latent in every atom, awaiting its further development in accordance with the laws of love.
It was the telescope which opened up the vast expanses above for you who are living today; and it was the microscope which revealed to you the wonders of the minutest things. With the help of both instruments you may be able to guess, but not comprehend, infinity and the Infinite Himself.
Both sciences - astronomy and natural science - have been given to man to dampen his pride, to eliminate his self-conceit and still raise him high above all spaces as a spirit, since they enabled the finite to guess and conceive the infinite.
Both sciences are meant to lead to the love of God, the love of God to human dignity and human dignity to the love of one's neighbour, which again leads back to Him Who has arranged everything in such a way that every spark of love can complete its circuit by returning to Me as God from Whom it has originated.
Thus the love of God is to form spontaneously in the hearts of men and express itself in the love of one's neighbour which -based on the former - speeds up the circuit, and in this way both laws, out of which everything has originated and to which everything seeks to return, prove to be truly the supreme and sole laws. Consequently, they are the noblest laws since they are based on love, on the inclination of like toward like and, therefore, can only give harmony, that is, peace, bliss and delight.
Even if man in the course of his life has to put up with many a struggle and bitter suffering, the spiritually inclined person does not regard this as the result of material or social circumstances, but sees in it an education for a higher life. The temptations of the material world must first be overcome before it is possible to comprehend the spiritual world in all its significance. Thus for him, the son of a God, struggles and suffering are only a spur to progress, not a cause for disappointment; thus he feels sublime in the struggles with a material world and, as a spiritual child of an eternally loving Father, strong enough to conquer them, for the corroboration of which I, as Jesus, have given you a splendid example.
In this state of awareness man understands why he should love God above all, that is, far above every other love; why he should regard the love of God as the highest and comply with its demands. He also understands why he should love his neighbour who, too, is a spiritual being, gone forth from the hand of God like himself, which means, he should respect him just as he himself, as the image of God, wishes to be regarded and respected.
Thus you shall love Me as God and prove this love on your neighbour so that you may be true descendants of Him Who has breathed His wonders into all things. Then you will realize that a world can only exist if its basic nature is love, if love is its impulse for existence and perfection. It is this which My two commandments preach to you, what they are telling you in a thousand ways from the cradle to the grave and what they will be reiterating far beyond this life –that without love there cannot be a Father nor can there be children. Amen.
(The Lord’s Sermons, chap. 43)
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