STEP 4: INTENTION –
MAY I BE LOVING AND COMPASSIONATE

The intention of love and compassion are at the heart of all great spiritual and contemplative traditions. They are the foundation for the health and happiness for ourselves and others. They are the divine intentions for truly spiritual contemplative practice. Since there are times when love and compassion don’t spontaneously flow from our hearts, contemplative journaling and practice can help us engender them. The verses and questions that follow are meant to inspire and stimulate your journaling on love and compassion so that they might spontaneously arise in your daily practice.

For additional information on this step, please refer to the book InterSpiritual Meditation. The following materials are provided to stimulate your journaling.

Poems, Stanzas, and Scriptural Passages

Below are inspirational verses from various traditions to help stimulate your own contemplation and journaling for Step Four.

Christianity

Love is patient, love is kind;
It does not envy, it does not boast,
It is not proud, nor is it rude;
It is not self-seeking, nor easily angered,
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil,
But rejoices in the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things,
Hopes all things, and endures all things.
Love never ends.

— St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians

And God said to the soul:

I desired you before the world began.
I desire you now
As you desire me.
And where the desires of two come together
There love is perfected.

How the Soul Speaks to the Soul

Lord, you are my lover,
My longing,
My flowing stream,
My sun,
And I am your reflection.

How God Answers the Soul

It is my nature that makes me love you often,
For I am love itself.
It is my longing that makes me love you intensely,
For I yearn to be loved from the heart.
It is my eternity that makes me love you long,
For I have no end.

— Mechthild of Madgeburg, from Teachings of the Christian Mystics

Buddhism

May I be a guide for those who journey on the road.
May I be a boat, a raft, a bridge
For those who wish to cross the water.

May I be an isle for those who yearn for land,
A lamp for those who long for light;
For all who need a resting place, a bed;
For those who need a servant, may I be their slave.

May I be the wishing jewel, the vase of wealth,
A word of power and the supreme healing,
May I be the tree of miracles,
For every being the abundant cow.

Thus, for everything that lives,
As far as are the limits of the sky,
May I be constantly their source of livelihood
Until they pass beyond all sorrow.

— Way of the Bodhisattva, 3:18-20, 22

Hinduism

Love is the firstborn,
Loftier than the Gods;
You, O Love, are the eldest of all,Altogether mighty.
To you we pay homage!

Greater than the breadth
Of Earth and Heaven
Or of Waters and Fire,
You, O Love, are the eldest of all,
Altogether mighty.
To you we pay homage!

Greater than the quarters and directions,
The expanses and vistas of the sky,
You, O Love, are the eldest of all,
Altogether mighty.
To you we pay homage!

Greater than all things moving and inert,
Than the Ocean, O Passion,
You, O Love, are the eldest of all,
Altogether mighty.
To you we pay homage!

Beyond the reach of Wind or Fire,
The Sun or the Moon,
You, O Love, are the eldest of all,
Altogether mighty.
To you we pay homage!

In many a form of goodness, O Love,
You show your face.
Grant that these forms may penetrate
Within our hearts.
Send elsewhere all malice!

—Atharva Veda IX: 2:19-21, 23-25

Judaism

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk.
Love your neighbor as yourself…
—Leviticus 19:18

The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens;
you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
—Leviticus 19:34

That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.
That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.
—Talmud, Shabbat 31a

Islam — Sufism

The sickness of love is not like any other;
Love is the astrolabe of God’s mysteries.
Whether Love is from heaven or earth,
it points to God.

However I may try to explain it,
When faced with Love itself
I’m ashamed of my explanations.
Whatever the tongue can make clear,
Love’s silence is better.

And though the pen wanted badly to write,
when it came to Love its nib split apart.
When it was the turn of the Intellect
To unfold the meaning of Love,
It stumbled like a donkey in the mud.
In the end only LoveCould explain itself
And what it is to be a lover.

—Mathnawi I, 110-111 of Jalaluddin Rumi3

My soul is a furnace
happy with the fire.
Love, too, is a furnace,
and ego its fuel

—Mathnawi II, 1376-7 of Jalaluddin Rumi4
Translated by Camille and Kabir Helminski in Rumi Daylight and in Jewels of Rumi