Love is the answer, love wins, love prevails, love never fails…we fall in love, love is in the air, love makes the world go ‘round and apparently, we can also get bit by the love bug.
There is no doubt that love can be a loaded word.
Often what the world calls love can be accurately named as dependency, control, sentimentalism, emotionalism, attachment, and self-interest.
Somebody might say, “I once loved that person but I don’t anymore.” What is most likely meant is there was a sentimental attachment that was held onto, until now. Love, doesn’t make rules, build walls, resist, it doesn’t compete, lose its balance or fade away.
“Love is often misunderstood to be an emotion; actually, it is a state of awareness, a way of being in the world, a way of seeing oneself and others” says David Hawkins.
Hafiz, a 14th century poet left us with a soul-stirring illustration, “Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth you owe me. Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky.”
What kind of love is this?
Over the millennia great philosophers, writers and sages of history, from Plato to Nietzsche and Rumi to Goethe, documented their thoughts on love.
One of the most famous instructions on love can be found in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Attainable or too tall of an order?
We can ask ourselves what kind of world we want to live in, what core values do we live by and then inquire, is what I am participating in, speaking about, focusing my mind on supporting this life and the world I desire to create?
If love is something we desire to give and receive, then it’s a worthwhile inquiry. Yet, if love isn’t a flitting emotion, or a warm and fuzzy butterfly feeling, what does the love that Hafiz describes, look like?
I once came across a beautifully written piece on love in The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo.
“Only love, with no thought of return, can soften the point of suffering.
Water in its clear softness fills whatever hole it finds. It is not skeptical or distrusting. It does not say this gully is too deep or that field is too open. Like water, the miracle of love is that it covers whatever it touches, making the touched thing grow while leaving no trace of its touch. True, the faces of shores and the arms of cliffs are worn to bone. But this is beyond the water's doing. This is the progress of life, of which water is but an element.
Most things break instead of transform because they resist. The quiet miracle of love is that without our interference, it, like water, accepts whatever is tossed or dropped or placed into it, embracing it completely.
Of course, we are human and are easily hurt if not loved back or if loved poorly. But we waste so much of life's energy by deliberating who and what shall be worthy of our love when in the deepest elemental sense, these choices are not in our province, any more than rain can choose what it shall fall upon.
Certainly, we need to make decisions: Who will I spend time with? Who will I learn from? Who will I live with? Who will I marry? But beneath all that, the element of love doesn't stop being elemental. It does not stop covering everything before it. And over a lifetime the pain of withholding this great and quiet force is more damaging than the pain of being rejected or loved poorly. For love, like water, can be dammed, but toward what end?
In truth, the more we let love flow through, the more we have to love. This is the inner glow that sages and saints of all ages seem to share: the wash of their love over everything before them; not just people, but birds and rocks and flowers and air.
Beneath the many choices we have to make, love, like water, flows back into the world through us. It is the one great secret available to all. Yet somewhere the misperception has been enshrined that to withhold love will stop hurt. In truth, it is the other way around. As water soaks scars, love soothes our wounds. If opened to, love will accept the angrily thrown stone, and our small tears will lose some of their burn in the great ocean of tears, and the arrow released to the bottom of the river will lose its point.”
May we all love like water.