What is love? Basically, that is the question: “What is love?”
Very often love ordinarily means a sensation in the heart which moves out to grasp an object in which there is a great pleasure. It is the minimum that happens in the expression of what people call love. There is a sensation in the heart which impels you to move out of yourself towards an object to grasp it and to enjoy the pleasure that is obtained in grasping. This is what we normally called love. Is this what we mean by God as love?
Let us see another idea of love. Love is an emotion. I am now not using the word sensation but the word emotion. Love is an emotion, an emotion full of joy. Is that enough? An emotion full of joy, shall we call it love? Or something more is needed. From your experience you compare experiences with experiences. I see a beautiful sunrise and there is an experience of joy, emotion of joy. Shall we call it love? No, we don’t call it love. So, this definition is not correct. Mere emotion of joy is not love. But joy is a part of love. Wherever there is love there is joy but wherever there is joy there is not necessarily love. So apart from joy there must be something else.
Good! There is a joy of union. In that joy of union, at the human level there is some kind of merchandise, some kind of bargaining. “I am uniting myself with you and I expect a return from you in the same way.” This is human love in which there is a union but there is a condition. This is not the case of Divine as love. There is reciprocity but no bargaining. The emotion of unity is not dependent upon the return. It is basically a union in which there is a self-giving, there may be a reciprocity from the other side but not as a condition. It is independent of reciprocity. So the essence of Divine as love is not reciprocity in the experience of union but basically the experience of self-giving. It is an outpouring. An outpouring, constantly uniting, constantly informing the object. In every experience of love there is an object and there is an outpouring towards an object but this outpouring has no bargaining. There is the experience of union but not dependent upon bargaining. That is what differentiates human love from Divine love. There is unreserved pouring. There are huge pulsations of love. The joy is of course part of this experience, but more than joy is union, a constant outpouring. The basic experience is of union, not merely of joy.
Now we have arrived at the essence of the idea of God as love where there is unrestrained, outpouring of emotional joy expressing union in which there is total unconditionality. Once you have got the essence of the idea of God as love you meditate on this essence in such a way that various aspects, various manifestations of this love arise luminously in your heart. So, meditation is not thinking about love, it may be only the starting point, a real meditation must ultimately aim at the awakening of an experience of various states, various manifestations -- the Divine’s smile is one of the manifestation and you should therefore experience the Divine’s smile, the captivating smile of the Lord. That is an experience in which you can dwell. That is: meditation is dwelling. It is not only developing the idea of God as smile, that is only a starting point, but you should be able to dwell in the experience of the Divine smile.
The Divine health is another experience, the Divine outpouring itself into you, uplifting you from your difficulties, even without being asked. It is unconditional. If you experience the Divine uplifting you -- even unasked, you may not even know that you are in difficulty, but He knows that you are in difficulty, so even unasked He simply uplifts you. In every experience of Divine love there is always this experience that this love uplifts you constantly. You are drawn closer and closer away from all the meshes, all the mess that you have made of your life, and He lifts you from the mud. This is another experience which should manifest.
The Divine love also manifests itself as a giver of knowledge. Divine love as the carrier of knowledge; so that when the Divine love manifests all aspects of knowledge begin to develop in you. You blossom. There is a blossoming of your faculties. And as the faculties develop there is no labour in it. It is a joy. It develops with a tremendous experience of self-giving. The faculties develop because they throw themselves forth by the attraction of love. There is strain but this strain is full of joy. That is the special experience of Divine as love. It is like a flower, the sunflower turning towards the sun without any effort. It is a joy and the whole flower blooms. It is also another experience of Divine as love.
There is also the experience of Divine love making a command. But in such a command that is a speciality of God as love in which the command is felt as something to which you want to serve with all your heart. It is not a command in which you feel “My Lord, now this command has come how should I fulfil.” That is not a command as the manifestation of God as love. There are states in which God gives you command which you may feel too heavy for you. In Karma Yoga when you are not attempting to reach God as love, this kind of command comes in the process and joy is not a part of it. But here is a command which you really like so much. It is a condition in which you feel “Why is God not commanding me? I am waiting for a command, I want to do, I want to serve, I want to be what He wants me to be.” This is the experience of Divine as love. It is a joy to hear the Divine command. There is a dance in your being on hearing that. “This is what He wants and I am here at the feet of the Lord.” And you don’t mind whether you have the faculties to do it or not. The very fact that you have received the command is such a great joy that you are so grateful and you know that if the command has come He will do it even if you are absolutely incapable of carrying out the command -- He will do it. That is an experience of Divine as love.
Then Divine as your companion. Friendship with the Divine in which you can behave with the Lord as though you can walk with Him. Not exactly as equals but as a companion. The Lord walks with you. That is also God as love. And wherever He walks you find a paradise. To be with God, walking with Him in a paradise. Everything is so beautiful everything is so favourable. The sun does not scorch you; even if there is a tremendous sunlight it gives you coolness. The breezes are all full of scents. All kind of flowers are in the scent of the air. This is your experience when you have Divine as love.
These experiences should arise luminously in the heart. This is called meditation. One after the other all these experiences begin to develop and you dwell upon them. This is called meditation.
Now Sri Aurobindo only comments upon this and says: “The thought may come first and the experience afterwards, but equally the experience may come first and the knowledge arise out of the experience.” If you read Mother’s book called Prayers and Meditations you then learn what are meditations. Every line that is given there is a meditation coming out of the experience. The thoughts which are expressed are only the results of experiences. Ordinary meditation is only thinking, thinking on one subject with concentration. That is only a primary, preliminary meditation. It is only when you get the essence of the idea and when you dwell upon the essence of the idea and when the essence of the idea begins to manifest in your heart in various aspects of its experience that you can say, “I have meditated.” That is the real meditation. “Afterwards the thing attained has to be dwelt on and more and more held till it becomes a constant experience and finally the dharma or law of the being.”