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2

 

All the same, in order to burst out in a mighty big spirit to serve as a beacon for those who may yet be groping in the darkness of selfishness, love needs to be kindled and rekindled in the abysmal darkness of selfish thoughts, selfish words and selfish deeds.

 

The light of love is not free from its fire of sacrifice. Like heat and light, love and sacrifice go hand in hand. The true spirit of sacrifice that springs spontaneously does not and cannot reserve itself for particular objects and special occasions. Love and coercion can never go together. Love has to spring spontaneously from within. It is in no way amenable to any form of inner or outer force and it cannot be forced upon anybody, yet it can be awakened in one through love itself.

 

Love cannot be born of mere determination; through the exercise of will, one can at best be dutiful. One may, through struggle and effort, succeed in securing that his external action is in conformity with his conception of what is right; but such action is spiritually barren because it lacks the inward duty of spontaneous love.

 

Like every great virtue, love, the mainspring of all life, can also be misapplied. It may lead to the height of God-intoxication or to the depths of despair. No better example can be given of the two polarities of love and their effects than that of Mary Magdalene before and after meeting Jesus.

 

Between these two extremes are many kinds of love. On the one hand, love does exist in all the phases of human life; but here it is latent or is limited and poisoned by personal ambitions, racial pride, narrow loyalties and rivalries and by attachment to sex, nationality, sect, castes, or religion. On the other hand, pure and real love has also its stages, the highest being the gift of God to love Him. When one truly loves God one longs for union with Him, and this supreme longing is based on the desire of giving up one's whole being to the Beloved.

 

True love is very different from an evanescent outburst of indulgent emotionalism or the enervating stupor of a slumbering heart. It can never come to those whose heart is darkened by selfish cravings or weakened by constant reliance upon the lures and stimulations of the passing objects of sense.

 

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