Baruch Spinoza’s quote, “He who loves God cannot strive that God should love him in return,” reflects his unique pantheistic viewpoint and his thoughts on the nature of God and love. In Spinoza’s philosophy, God and Nature are identical. God is not a personal deity who rewards, punishes, or has any form of personal relationship with individuals.
God, as Spinoza saw it, is the totality of the universe and the laws of nature that govern it. So when Spinoza says “He who loves God cannot strive that God should love him in return,” he’s highlighting the impersonal nature of God. If God is the totality of all existence and is not a being capable of feelings, then it does not make sense to strive for God’s love in return. This is tied to Spinoza’s overall ethical philosophy, in which the highest form of knowledge and virtue is an intuitive understanding of God or Nature and our place within it.
Love for God, in this context, means a deep understanding and acceptance of the universe as it is, without expecting anything (like love) in return. Thus, for Spinoza, to love God is to understand the nature of the universe and embrace it fully, without any expectation of personal rewards or reciprocation from an impersonal God. It’s about the lover’s transformation, not about changing or gaining something from the beloved.