by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh
All human beings during their lives tend to experience love and friendship. Human love can be classified into three basic categories according to its intensity, quality and limitations. The first form of love is the friendship that is based on social conventions where two people behave in accordance with the following principle: "I for myself, you for yourself; we love each other, and we have no expectations of each other." This form of love is that of ordinary people, whose love relationships tend to be of this nature.
The second form of love is based on a more solid foundation and those who live together usually experience this kind of love: "I for you, you for me; we love each other, having mutual expectations of each other." This form of love includes profound love as well as the love found within most families, involving emotional give and take on an equal footing.
The third kind of love transcends all conventions based on mutual expectations and is based on the following principle: "I am for you, you are for whoever you choose; I accept whatever you want without any expectations whatsoever."
The Sufi's devotion to God and to the master of the Path represents this latter form of love. This third kind of love is not based upon any constraints or conditions, and the Sufi who possesses mis kind of love says with contentment and submission to God: "I am satisfied with whatever You want without any expectations, and love You without any thought of reward."
The Sufi's love of God is not based upon any expectation of reward or fear of punishment, for the Sufi does not have any wishes and demands. The Sufi embraces and loves God's wrath as much as His grace, His hardheartedness as much as His fidelity.
Only a few Sufis have managed to annihilate themselves in the Beloved through the path of such love and friendship. It is about these Sufis that Rumi has said:
Everything is the Beloved,
and the lover but a veil;
The Beloved is alive,
while the lover is dead.
Thus, we see that the highest form of human love is 'Sufi Love'. Alas, it is a polo ball that only the most distinguished and perfected human beings are worthy of putting into play.