Nisargadatta Maharaj: Does not the word ‘love’ basically signify ‘a need’ of some kind, for you love the person, or the thing that satisfies your need? Indeed, the love between man and woman satisfies the need of each for the other whether the need be physical, by way of companionship, or in any other form or manner.
When one finds that the other no longer satisfies the need, ‘love’ first turns to indifference and later on perhaps to ‘hate’. Why do couples change partners, wedded or otherwise, so often, particularly in the West? For the simple reason that they no longer seem to satisfy each other’s need as they did earlier.
(One visitor, who wanted to pursue the enquiry further, asked some questions.)
Visitor: But sir, this is definitely a narrow view of the word ‘love’. There must surely be something like impersonal or ‘universal’ love?
Nisargadatta Maharaj: Ah! Let us be clear what we are talking about. Are we talking about a sentiment, a relationship between two persons? If so, can love be really anything other than the inter-related opposite counterpart of ‘hate’ — both being feelings that one person has for another?
Such a relationship can only occur in a dualistic manifestation of subject-object.
If, however, you are thinking in terms of noumenal non-manifestation, which is a state of total subjectivity, (without the slightest touch of anything objective), something which can only be suggested by the subjective pronoun ‘I’, total unicity, which can be conceived only as a state of fullness, wholeness, holiness, no words can be adequate. And, of course, in that state a love-hate relationship would be quite inconceivable.
Relationship between whom?
If, therefore, you are using the word ‘love’ to indicate the noumenal state, this word, like any other word, would be totally inadequate.
Visitor: Honestly, I had not considered the matter so deeply, so analytically. Perhaps what I had in mind was something that is conveyed by the words ‘God is Love’, or ‘Love is religion’.
Nisargadatta Maharaj: (Laughing) Here again, my friend, what are these but combinations of words based on someone’s concept which he liked and wished to thrust on others? And the ‘others’ are more than willing to accept any concept which gives them some sort of moral moorings.
In such cases the seeker is happy and complacent in his pose of the seeker. He feels so much superior to others, ‘misguided souls who are wasting their lives’. And in this pose of ‘enlightenment’ he is happy to hang on to a concept, based on a pleasing combination of words, that feeds his seeker-ego.
Visitor: But Maharaj, the words ‘God is Love’, and ‘He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him’ were used by St. John, a great Christian saint, who is also believed to have been a Jnani.
Nisargadatta Maharaj: I do not doubt that he was a Jnani. But unfortunately, there does not seem to have been a clear apprehension amongst his followers of what these beautiful words meant to the Christian sage who uttered them.
What St. John had in mind was certainly not that ‘God’ is an objective, phenomenal entity whose essential nature is love.
Now, let us go back again to what I told you about need being the basis of love. Consider what is the most priceless possession of any sentient being.
If he had the choice of possessing either all the wealth in the world or his ‘beingness’, or ‘consciousness’ (you may give it any name to add to the thousands that have already been heaped upon it), that which gives him the sense of being alive and present, and without which the body would be nothing but a cadaver, what would he choose?
Obviously, without consciousness, all the wealth in the world would be of no use to him. This beingness, this conscious presence that he is, is the beingness of every sentient being on the earth, the very soul of the entire universe, — and indeed, therefore, this-here-now, this conscious presence, cannot be anything other than God. It is this which one loves more than anything else because without it there is no universe, no God.
This, therefore, is Presence-Love-God.
And, St.John was obviously very much conscious of this when he said ‘God is Love. . . .’ It is very clear that all he could have meant is that he (John) and He (God) were not different as pure subjectivity, as noumenon. And, therefore, he who is anchored in the conscious presence that is Love, that is God, ‘dwelleth in God and God in him.’
(Source: POINTERS FROM NISARGADATTA MAHARAJ by Ramesh S. Balsekar)