Learning to Love is Practicing Religion
There is a saying, “He who loves knows God.” Most of us cannot connect this with daily life because it sounds very abstract. If you are asking yourself, “What do personal relationships have to do with the divine?” I would reply that we need to discover the bond between all others and ourselves and through this process, we find our connection with God. It’s not about getting to know God first and then, by some miracle or grace, we come to love all living beings.
When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the God of Love, gave his concise teachings to his dearest disciple Sanatan Goswami, he said, “Compassion towards living beings, the chanting of the Holy Name and the service of devotees are the only three steps needed to follow the religion of love.”
Loving others comes first because it takes courage to remove “I” ness. For example, there are millions of people who love and serve their pets selflessly, even if these animals can be selfish. Yet this act of selfless service towards others who may be selfish is one of the first steps to show our compassion towards living beings. In that sense, learning to love is practicing religion. Those who can put the welfare of others before their own small personal interests are religious, even if they may deny it.