Ravi Ravindra is an author and professor emeritus at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he served as a professor in comparative religion, philosophy, and physics. A lifetime member of the Theosophical Society, Ravi has taught many courses at the School of the Wisdom in Adyar and at the Krotona Institute of Theosophy in Ojai, California. He was a member of the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, a fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla, and the founding director of the Threshold Award for Integrative Knowledge. For more information visit http://www.ravindra.ca/.
Week 1: Love as a cosmological force as well as a human necessity and imperative.
Some relevant quotes and remarks which will be explored in detail:
“In the beginning arose Love (Kāma)
Which was the primal germ cell of the mind.” (Rig Veda X. 129.4)
According to H.P. Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine, Eros is the first Fohat “which is the bridge by which the Ideas existing in the Divine Thought are impressed on Cosmic substance as the laws of Nature.”
“Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love…. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” (1John 4.8,16)
When speaking of love as a Divine and cosmological force, it is clear that God is not only omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent, but also omniamorossus and omnidilectabilis.
Week 2: The place of love in the teachings of the Christ and of Krishna. In these teachings there is a spiritual hierarchy: love from above and obedience or devotion from below.
Christ said, “Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of my heavenly Father. . . . You will dwell in my love if you keep my commandments, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and dwell in His love.” (Matthew 7:21, John 15:10)
“Whoever keeps the commandments that he has from me is the man who loves me; and the man who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and reveal myself to him.” (Christ in John 14:21)
“The yogi who has no egoism and no selfishness, who has friendship and compassion [karunā] for all beings and hatred for none, who is impartial to pain and pleasure and is forgiving, who is ever content, self-controlled and firm-willed, and whose mind and attention are given up to Me, such a one is My devotee and is dear to Me.” (Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita 12.13–14)
“Exceedingly dear to Me are those devotees who, full of shraddhā [faith, trust, confidence], carry out the eternal dharma described by Me and make Me their one supreme aim.” (Bhagavad Gita 12.20)
Any expression of love requires two entities. But, the call of Krishna is to realize that all there is a Krishna and to become one with Him. One can come to that realization essentially through love. However at that level of oneness, the usual expression of loving something or somebody loses meaning.
Week 3: The classical text the Song of Solomon (also called Song of Songs or Canticle of Canticles) in the Bible. Explicitly sexual language is used in this song. For example, the second verse in the first chapter of the Song is “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.”
Owing to this, some important people in the Christian tradition, such as Martin Luther, have urged the exclusion of Song of Songs from the acceptable Biblical canon. On the other hand, the great Rabbi Akiva said, “All of eternity in its entirety is not as worthy as the day on which Song of Songs was given to Israel, for all the Writings are holy, but Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies."
Obviously, what this Song evokes depends on the quality of being of the listener. In a conversation, J. Krishnamurti said to me that Song of Songs was his favorite book in the Bible.
Week 4: How can we cultivate the practice of love? The expression “love” can have many meanings and attitudes. A purely sexual attraction can be, and often is, labeled “love.” The word “love”’ can also be used as a form of admiration or when asking for a favour or submitting to somebody.
The call from all the sages is that we need to love our fellow human beings and the whole of nature. It is helpful to undertake intentional practice of love, but what is much more important is the enhancement of our level of being so that love naturally emanates from us. As long as the ego is in charge, which is to say as long as there is selfishness, all our actions are without love. If we act without love, there is violation of the spirit.
Loving the Divine is not possible without loving all beings. Krishna says, “Whatever is born, moving or unmoving, is born from the union of the field and the knower of the field... I am the knower of the field in all fields. The Supreme Lord is seated equally in all beings, not perishing when they perish. One who sees this, sees truly. One who sees the Lord equally present everywhere, does not hurt the Self by the self. Such a one attains to the supreme goal.”(Bhagavad Gita 13.2, 26–28)
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ” (Matthew 22.37-39)
“Change in being is possible through conscious effort toward a quality of thinking and feeling that brings a new capacity to see and to love... Love is a quality of consciousness...To live without love is to live in perpetual contradiction. Without love, one can never find what is true, and all human relations are painful.” (Jeanne the Salzmann, Reality of Being)
This is a live, interactive online program that will also be recorded for on-demand viewing. Our goal is to send recordings to you within two business days, often sooner. Recordings will be available for on-demand viewing for two weeks following the date of the last class.