These three characteristics may be shown as corresponding to the angles of a triangle:-
The first characteristic is that true love knows no shop-keeping. It is love for love's sake. Even the prayer for more wealth, health, prosperity or even salvation is not true love-PREM.
A king lost his way in the forest and spent the night in the saint's cottage. The saint provided him food and shelter and the comforts he could. The king requested him to come with him to his palace so he could express his gratitude by offering him some presents. The saint said that he was very much contented with whatever he had. On king's persistence, the saint accompanied the king. On reaching the palace, the king made all the arrangements of comfort for the saint and went to another room to offer his prayers-" Lord! Please extend the boundaries of my kingdom, give me more wealth, peace and so on". The saint peeped into the room and found the king stretching his arms and kneeling down in prayer. He immediately left and when the king followed him and asked the cause of leaving without giving him any chance of offering him any gifts, the saint replied that HE DOES NOT BEG OF BEGGARS.
The second characteristic is that we should not love God out of fear of going to hell or for any other punishment. PREM does not spring up out of fear. A slave cannot love his master, nor a lamb the lion. It is a degradation to worship God out of fear of punishment. Such worship if worship at all is the crudest form of worship. So long as there is any fear in the heart, there cannot be any true love. Love conquers all fear.
The third angle of triangle is that PREM knows no rival, for in it is embodied the aspirant's highest ideal. True love never comes until the object of our love becomes to us our highest ideal. The highest ideal is GOD. Such a devotee whose highest ideal is God is no more impelled to ask whether GOD can be demonstrated or not, whether He is Omnipresent or Omnipotent or Omniscient or not. To him He is the only GOD of LOVE, PREM. He is the highest ideal of LOVE, PREM and that is sufficient for all his purposes. He as Love is self-evident. He requires no proofs to demonstrate the existence of the BELOVED to the lover.
There will be no reason, no argument, no philosophical discussions, they are idle talk. The aspirant overflows with PREM, cares nothing for argument, he does not reason, he senses and perceives. He wants to lose himself in pure love of SELF. The first essential for PREM for SELF is to want Him honestly and incessantly. The problem with us is that we want everything but SELF because our ordinary desires are fulfilled by the external world. So far as our clinging is to this mortal, we do not feel any need of SELF. It is only when we have blows after blows in our lives that we feel for something higher and then we seek SELF. We must give Him that love which is being wasted on the fleeting objects of senses. PREM for SELF is the real immortality getting which a man becomes satisfied, sorrows for no loss and is never jealous, knowing which a man becomes mad.
Swami RamaKrishan Paramhans used to say, " This world is a huge asylum where all men are mad- some after money , some after name and fame and few after GOD. GOD is the philosopher's stone that turns into gold in an instant. The form remains the same but the nature is changed, the human form remains but no more can we hurt or sin. Thinking of God, some weep, some laugh, some dance, some say wonderful things-but all speak of nothing but GOD. They do not want His gifts. They want Him and Him only because they are sure that His gifts will spontaneously follow Him. Even if gifts do not follow, they do not care because they want Him and Him only."
It is said that once God was distributing gifts from His shop and there was a queue. An ardent aspirant was standing at the end of the queue and by the time his turn came nearly the shop was empty. God said that no gift was left. The aspirant said, "Sir, Let me work in your shop. Never mind the gifts." So he was employed the next day. At the end of the day, he was asked about the remuneration. "One day is not enough. Let me serve for another week, another month, another year and for the whole life and I am not bothered about the wages because I know that you do not keep the wages of anyone. They are paid with interest. I want to serve YOU and YOU only". Thereupon GOD said, "Just by asking ME you have got everything as all comes with ME though you did not ask for any specific gift." Let nothing stand between the true love i.e. PREM and SELF. Love Him, live in Him and let the world say what it will.
PREM i.e. going beyond me and mine is higher than yoga, than knowledge, than works. It is like the love of moth for a light. PREM is without any thought of return. Worldly love is one that demands but gives nothing. Another type is one which expects the return. It vanishes when there is no return. But true love is for love's sake. PREM for the SELF is without, without any me or mine. Swami Ram Tirath Ji expresses the true love i.e. PREM as "When girls are married, their relations throw over the palanquin silver and golden coins in charity for the welfare of the bride sitting inside the palanquin. O Worldly Souls ! You may pick up the coins. Others may pick up the pearls. Rama does not possess even a piece of cloth to keep them in, nor does he need them. He is in love with Bride (SELF) and only wants to become one with HIM (SELF), that Beloved GOD."
That is not impossible because stars are never separated from light. The only adamantine wall is the MIND standing between us and Self. With regular and persistent meditation, this wall can be razed to ground. MIND becomes no - mind in meditation and there is the state of thoughtlessness. In that state Bhav, Bliss & PREM come up spontaneously. No effort is required for meditation which is a natural and spontaneous process like breathing and blood circulation. Out of the meditation, fountain of love PREM for SELF will come up.