We all know the word. You might say we all know love. What is so special to make it the key? Though we already know the word, mere acquaintance with words will not do. You have learned your words from the dictionaries of language but not from the dictionary of existence. The dictionary gives various meanings, but love has nothing to do with any of them. When love arises in your book of existence, the experience suffuses the word with life – so different from the lifeless words in the book. Now for instance, the dictionary describes fire as a thing that burns, but this fire does not burn you, any more than, similarly, the water in the dictionary can quench your thirst. If you try to understand love in a like manner, your sins will never be washed away.
Love is a fire. Gold is purified by passing it through a fire in which all but the gold is burnt away – only that remains which is worth preserving; so also, when you pass through the fire of love, all that is worthless and useless in you goes up in flames. All sins are burned away and only the purposeful you, the meaningful you, remains. You become purified, perfect virtue.
So understand love well. First and foremost you must clearly distinguish love from sin, then only can you eradicate sin. Perhaps you have not recognized the relationship between these two very deep-seated conditions within you: You can sin only when love is absent. Sins are born in the absence of love. Where love is, sin is impossible.
So it is that Mahavira says nonviolence. Nonviolence means love. Buddha says compassion. Compassion means love. And Jesus’ words are direct and clear. He says that love is God!
Someone asked St. Augustine, “What is the essence of religion? Please tell me as briefly as you can. How shall I save myself from sin? Sins are so many and life is so short.”
The significance is that since life is short and sins are many, could he rid himself of them one by one in the short span of a lifetime? So he pleaded for a master key that opens all locks.
You can steal only if you have no feeling of love towards the person whose possessions you are coveting. You can kill only if you have no feeling of love towards the person you kill. You can cheat, you can deceive, you can commit all other sins – only when love is absent within you. Sins are born only in the non-presence of love. Just as an unlighted house attracts thieves, robbers, snakes and scorpions – and spiders weave webs within it and bats make it their home – but when light is brought in they all make a hasty retreat.
Love is light. No lamp of love has been lit in your life – therefore the sins. Sin has no positive energy of its own. It is a negative, a non-presence. You can sin only when that which should be within you is absent.
Understand a little: you get angry though all religious books exhort you not to. But if your life energy does not flow towards love, what else can you do but be angry? You will have to be angry, for anger – if you understand it well – is that very love that has lost its direction. It is the same energy that could not become a flower but instead became a thorn. Love is creation. If there is no creativity in your life, your life energy turns destructive.