God Is Not Love…
I know this is a bold statement and many people will be offended by it, but hear me out will yeah 🙂
The other day as I was getting ready in the morning, for some reason, my mind was racing and reflecting on God. Especially the question, the new age proclamations, that we commonly believe and hear, on shows like Oprah- that God is Love.
I know God is Loving, but is God really Love? This question kept ringing and repeating in my thoughts. Is God Love?
Then as I reflected on the Mool Mantar. This is said to be revealed to Guru Nanak Dev around 1494ish, the founder of the Sikh faith and is the core essence of the Sikh faith. The Mool Mantar is the very first verse of the Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and describes God and is found in many places through out the holy book.
While contemplating the Mool Mantar I was asking my self, why did Guru Nanak Dev Ji not mention that God is Love? Surely there ought to be a reason as to why not. Then I thought let’s check out Guru Gobind Singh’s, Jaap Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh is the last living Guru of the Sikhs and around the 1700s to penned the Jaap Sahib. So I hungrily looked through the 199 verses and once again I could not find that “God is Love.”
I can’t say for certain that there are zero references in the 1430 pages of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji that states God is Love, but I’m doubting it very much. Let’s look at Guru Nanak’s definition of God in the Mool Mantar to get a sense of what his interpretation is.
ੴ ਸਤਿਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ
ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
॥ ਜਪੁ ॥ ਆਦਿ ਸਚੁ ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਸਚੁ ॥ ਹੈ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੋਸੀ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ॥1॥ Page 1 of Guru Granth Sahib Ji
As you can see, the Scripture starts with the “number” 1. So that there is no confusion that there is 1 God. Here are the simplest and literal translations of the Mool Mantar.
- ੴ : Ik Oan-kaar – One Transcendent Omnipresent Reality
- ਸਤਿਨਾਮ: Satinaam – His essence is Truth.
- ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖ: Kartaa Purakh – Creative Being
- ਨਿਰਭਉ: Nirbhaou – Without Fear
- ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ: Nirvairu – Without Hate
- ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ: Akaal Moorati – Timeless Form
- ਅਜੂਨੀ: Ajoonee – Unborn
- ਸੈਭੰ: Saibhang – Self Existent, All Powerful
- ਗੁਰਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ: Gurprasaadi – Realized By the Guru’s Grace
- ॥ ਜਪੁ ॥- Jap – Meditate, Chant, Remember
- ਆਦਿ ਸਚੁ – Aad Sach – that which is True in the beginning
- ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਸਚੁ ॥ Jugaad Sach – that which is True when time began
- ਹੈ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ – Hai Bhee Sach – that which is True now
- ਨਾਨਕ ਹੋਸੀ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ॥1॥ – Nanak Hosee Bhee Sach – that which shall always be True say’s Nanak.
To hear a beautiful rendition of the complete Mool Mantar, repeated Click Here
Today, I decided to dig a bit deeper into the Japji Sahib, Sikh morning prayer. So I looked at the entire 38 verses to see how else does Guru Nanak Describe God. Well here is a small list of my findings.
1. Great Giver, Carefree, Untroubled
2. True is the Master, His Name – Speak it with infinite love
3. The True One Himself is All
4. He Himself is Immaculate and Pure
5. Treasure of Excellence
6. One Giver of all souls
7. Eternal and Formless One
8. King of kings, Supreme Lord and Master
9. The primal One, Pure Light, without beginning, without end. Throughout is one and the same.
10. In the realm of Truth, the Formless Lord abides
As you can see from this list. God is Love is missing. Even in the Mool Mantar, the closest we get is God is without Hate (Nirvair).
Why is love not mentioned? As I pounded my head this is what I came up with.
If God is Love, in the sense most people relate to. Then God can still “hate” many of the things we do. Just like a father, mother, brother, sister, husband and wife does. As a father, I can say I love my son but still detest many of the things he does. Or at the very least be upset with him. Yet, if I did not “hate”, I could not get upset. I’d be compassionate and loving, even without having to be love.
Why did Guru Nanak choose to say God is without Hate and without Fear? Why not just say God is Love? Why describe God “without a negative”(hate) instead of with something we may consider “positive” (love).
I think it comes down to our understanding of Love. Love is a word loaded with human emotions that can’t paint an accurate picture of God. It carries too much human emotional baggage. It attaches a physical form of love to the infinite Lord.
Don’t we all believe that God is more than our emotions? After all, that is what love is. Obviously most of us do believe God is more and that is why Guru Nanak wrote he is without hate and fear. You won’t find a single human being capable of that. Yes, never hating and never being in fear. Yet, every human being is capable of loving. We love in many shapes and form. To different depths. With different desires in mind. Out of fear and out of loss. There is no universal truth in Love. It is soiled with emotions like our hearts.
So when Oprah and many of her guests say on her talk shows that God is Love… I beg to differ. I say, God is not Love, God is loving! He loves those who love him with their mind, body and heart. He hates no one. He fears no one. He is carefree. Beyond our physical senses. Beyond our thought and reason. He is eternal Truth. Without birth, never dies and is the one creative light, the master of everything.
I think we need to reflect a bit deeper and really think about the context we believe that God is Love. I don’t think most of us have ever thought it through. I hadn’t until recently. After all, it just feels right, feels good to think and believe that God is Love.
I just got off the phone with my Dad in India, who advised me not to get entangled with this world, and the belief that God is Love. The world will believe what they want to hear. To love each other, love thy neighbour, etc. The true love of loving God, is extremely rare and difficult. He said, besides the Mool Mantar, just read the Jaap Sahib’s first verse by the 10th Guru, Gobind Singh Ji and that should be more than enough to understand what God is. That was our 2 minute conversation as someone else was calling the line. I thought I’d get his input to see if anywhere it is written that God is Love in 1430 pages of the Guru Granth Sahib.
Well here is the Jaap Sahib’s verse.
ਸ੍ਰੀ ਮੁਖਵਾਕ ਪਾਤਿਸਾਹੀ ੧੦ ॥ The sacred utterance of The Tenth Sovereign: CHHAPAI STANZA. BY THY GRACE
ਚੱਕ੍ਰ ਚਿਹਨ ਅਰੁ ਬਰਨ ਜਾਤਿ ਅਰੁ ਪਾਤਿ ਨਹਿਨ ਜਿਹ ॥ He who is without mark or sign, He who is without caste or line.
ਰੂਪ ਰੰਗ ਅਰੁ ਰੇਖ ਭੇਖ ਕੋਊ ਕਹਿ ਨ ਸਕਤ ਕਿਹ ॥ He who is without colour or form, and without any distinctive norm.
ਅਚਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਨਭਉ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਸ ਅਮਿਤੋਜਿ ਕਹਿੱਜੈ ॥ He who is without limit and motion, All effulgence, non-descript Ocean.
ਕੋਟਿ ਇੰਦ੍ਰ ਇੰਦ੍ਰਾਣ ਸਾਹੁ ਸਾਹਾਣਿ ਗਣਿਜੈ ॥ The Lord of millions of Indras and kings, the Master of all worlds and beings.
ਤ੍ਰਿਭਵਣ ਮਹੀਪ ਸੁਰ ਨਰ ਅਸੁਰ ਨੇਤ ਨੇਤ ਬਨ ਤ੍ਰਿਣ ਕਹਤ ॥ Each twig of the foliage proclaims: “Not this Thou art.”
ਤ੍ਵ ਸਰਬ ਨਾਮ ਕਥੈ ਕਵਨ ਕਰਮ ਨਾਮ ਬਰਨਤ ਸੁਮਤ॥੧॥ All Thy Names cannot be told. One doth impart Thy Action-Name with benign heart.1.
Then the Salutations begin… and once again there is no Love.
Salutation to Thee O Timeless Lord! Salutation to Thee O Beneficent Lord!
Salutation to Thee O Formless Lord! Salutation to Thee O Wonderful Lord! 2. To read more visit here.
So is God Love? If he is, definitely not in the sense Oprah and her friends proclaim he is. Love has such a warm, chocolate-chip-cookie feel to it that we want to just eat it up. However, I believe, by thinking this, it takes us away from a deeper understanding of knowing God.
I’m not a scholar but from the little I know, there are 1430 pages of poetic verses, by the Gurus that show us how to love the unfathomable Creator, but failed to mention that he is Love. We are advised to meditate on the name and reflect on the Truth. In this way, we become content and intuitively know to understand that God is the Word, (Shabad), and the Word is God.
Cheers, Jas Jagpal