January 2, 2021 | Acharya Prashant
Love is great. Love is necessary. Love is beautiful.
But what is love?
For most of us, love is the greatest excitement and comfort—and also the greatest suffering. Whether love has become a problem or something you cherish the most in your life, please go deeper into the matter. Know what real love is. Know the myths that surround it.
Acharya Prashant extends a helping hand, compassionately challenging our notions of love and uprooting the deep-seated myths around it that lead to human suffering.
Love never goes wrong. It is our misplaced notions that go wrong.
The following seven points challenge our beliefs and give deeper insight into a matter that affects us the most.
This is going to be a little tough on us and our concepts, and also on our sentimentality:
There is nothing called love between two human beings or love between a human being and any other object. Two human beings can never love each other, and I am saying this with full responsibility and understanding.
Man is born in a crowd, but he has a deep loneliness within. It requires at least two for a human being to be born, so man is always born in a society. On one hand, man being born in a society has several others to relate to—yet none of those relationships are ever able to fill up the hole in the heart.
Man keeps relating in various ways, but that which he wants is hardly ever supplied by the others. We would not be mistaken if we say that others are fundamentally incapable of satiating your deepest urge.
No human being can give you what you really want. And to expect it from a person is to place your hopes wrongly. You would be disappointed.
That which we call as ‘love’ is usually just a misplaced hope.
Love has to be seen differently. And when you look at it differently, then you will be able to throw brighter and clearer light on what human relationships are.
In reality, what happens between any two human beings is just a play of circumstances; it’s a play of the elements, it’s a play of the situations—it’s always conditional.
You require a little bit of heat, a little bit of intimacy, and anything can combine. Even inert gases react, don’t they? All you need is suitable conditions.
You cannot love the other person. You can only relate to the other person.
Take a simple example of hydrogen and oxygen. A hydrogen molecule relates with an oxygen molecule. There would be a certain chemistry, a certain bonding, a certain transformation when the two of them come together.
So it happens with you also. It is also possible that it appears as if the two of you have lost your individuality and something new has resulted in this bonding.
Obviously, when hydrogen and oxygen come together, neither hydrogen nor oxygen is left. So, you may be tricked into believing that both hydrogen and oxygen have gone, disappeared. They aren’t gone. They are just hiding. The molecule can split any day, any moment. The conditions will change, the molecule will split; you will find that the oxygen and hydrogen have reappeared. They were never really gone; they were just hiding themselves.
That is our normal human love – as objects meet objects.
Objects are given to exist only in certain conditions. When those conditions change, the objects change. You take a molecule of water and you change the conditions around it, and the molecule would be no more.
We are all just objects. And objects cannot relate to other objects except in an objectified way.
Then, we either agree that love too is an object, or we look closely at our concepts, our definitions.
Objects can get attracted; objects can feel repulsed.
But objects cannot love each other.
Sodium had a great fondness for chlorine as long as only chlorine was available. As the other halogens too joined the queue, now chlorine is not really a favourite; other ones are available. It’s all happening everywhere.
We hardly have any choice. Or let’s say, our choices are predetermined. One set of conditions, it is certain what choices we are going to make. Another set of conditions, it is certain what choices we are going to make.
It's wise to discount the possibility that this body of flesh and blood and this mind of thoughts and concepts can ever love any other body or mind. Yes, we do relate but that relating is just chemistry. So, forget about loving everybody. You can’t even love anybody!
It is foolhardy to discriminate some relationships as more real and substantial than others. Sometimes you would think that some relationships have more substance; you would think that some relationships are more soulful, heartful. They are not. Please get rid of this notion.
That hollow is something that no electron can fill. Bad!
In fact, we keep exploring all the chemistries just to fill up that particular hollow, that sense of incompleteness. That is why we are so restless in our relationships.
When all your hopes are dashed, when you know that love is simply not possible between human beings, that is called Love. Now you are the same for everybody. Now you are unconditionally belonging to the Universe.
To know that love is impossible is Love.
Love heals because it rids you of all your false hopes.
Love is the biggest healer because it prevents you from getting anymore hurts.
It’s not easy to know that, not at all easy to know that.
Man keeps expecting. Man keeps expecting that someday-somewhere he will find that magical object which will satisfy the heart. Man keeps expecting. A complete breakdown of that expectation is Love.
Bring clarity into your life. Recognise your bondages and get rid of them. Get rid of the incompletion by knowing your true nature, by knowing the Self.
Knowing the Self is the only worthy object of Love. And it is so gigantic that you cannot even call it an object.
It is so big, so total, so filling, so occupying, so unrelenting, so very compelling that it leaves no space for you to continue as you are.
That which would give you total satisfaction will not let you remain the petty one you are. Vastness comes to the vast.
You are what you want. If you want to change who you are, then you will have to want something radically different from yourself.
Your destination, your desire decides your constitution. You become what you intend to achieve and be.
If you love the mud, you will become an earthworm.
If you love the Sky, you will grow wings. Your entire personality will change.
If you really want to fundamentally change the way you are, then you have to have a goal that is tremendously brilliant, supremely attractive, and surrender to it.
To want something different, to take something totally different as your goal, you will have to go against yourself. You will have to bear that suffering. Your entire system will then be forced to adjust itself, rather take a rebirth in order to achieve that goal.
Do you have the kind of Love that will enable you to willingly pass through that suffering? That’s the question that you have to answer. Only in Love can there be a radical transformation.
Most of us are loveless, dry beings. Unfortunately, that’s not our destiny, but that’s how we have made the choice.
They say, “It was the love of the flower that turned the caterpillar into the butterfly.” Without that love-affair, the metamorphosis wouldn’t have happened.
Go, find a flower!
Can you take care of anything without knowing what that thing is?
Yes, love is about taking care of yourself. But to really take care of yourself, you must first know what your real problems are, you must know what you really want, you must first know what keeps you afraid, nervous, alert, and then you will be able to take care of yourself. And yes, that is Love.
If your definition of yourself separates you from the world, then this self that is separate from the world is anyway not worth loving. If your definition of love is that you and world are separate entities, then this ‘you’ is anyway not worth loving because that is not the real you.
First of all, figure out who you are and what your relationship with the world is.
If you really love yourself while being apathetic to the world, that self-concept which places you as separate from the world is a flawed concept—like all concepts are. That concept will only lead to violence.
When you really love yourself, then you realize that your welfare and the welfare of the world are inseparable.
Real carnal love, real worldly love is not about trying to gain something from the other or trying to bring happiness to the other, trying to exchange pleasures with the other.
It is about seeing that the other is so much like you.
And who are you? You are the suffering one. You are the one that experiences incompleteness.
Loving yourself is about giving yourself that which would actually give you contentment and freedom from suffering. Love yourself enough to give yourself the Highest. Do not settle for something lowly, mediocre.
And the other is just like you. The other too wants that which can get rid of the incompleteness within. The other too wants to get rid of the hollow in the heart. The other too is suffering.
This realization of commonness between you and the other is Love. Let your love for the Highest dictate the way you relate to others. Assist them as you assist yourself.
Love the Highest because you love yourself. Love the other because he is so much like you.
Acharya Prashant is an emerging champion of socio-spiritual awakening in the world today. An alumnus of IIT-Delhi and IIM-Ahmedabad, and a former Civil Services officer, Acharya Prashant is an acclaimed Speaker, Vedanta Teacher and author of over 50 books. Apart from that he wears various hats: a veganism promoter, an environmental activist, a science activist, a campaigner against superstition, and a champion of essential human freedom. Know More