Ganesh P. Paudel
“What is love? Can it bear universality in its meaning regardless of who tries to define it, or should it be different for different age-groups and society people?” I pose this question to my high school friends’ group on Facebook with a view to knowing what people in their early forties have to say about it. What one of my friends said set me in a ruminating mood and consequently the concept of this article popped up in my mind.
He said that love is a private affair and thus cannot and should not be generalized. His take can be construed as what applies to him regarding love may not be applicable to others and thus it cannot and should not be generalized.
From my experience, as opposed to my opinion, love is not an affair in the first place. Its omnipresence and omnipotence should not allow us to term it “an affair”. It is too divine an experience to be called an affair. It is not something you get into and own it privately. How can we own privately something that runs the entire cosmos? It is there already. All you can do is become available to it.
There are three ways leading us towards love, and among them only one path takes you there. The first is “fall in love” which any fool can do. It is all about being enslaved and feeling a sudden spike in hormonal levels, and nothing more. The second is “be in love”, which is a notch up in its value and meaningfulness compared to the previous one. If you are in love, you love somebody with this or that conditions attached. But the third one is “be the love” – the ultimate spiritual experience where you yourself become love and keep pervading its glory wherever you go and whoever you are with.
Osho’s take on love is very profound and timeless. He said that love is authentic only when it gives freedom. Love is a liberating and selfless experience not like what today’s people, mostly youngsters, make it out to be. They take love as a tool to possess somebody and have the upper hand on them. That is why rejection in love usually culminates into a sour and nasty experience, not a liberating and enlightening one. Truth be told, there is no such thing as “rejection” when it comes to love. If you think there is, that was not the love in the first place. If you love somebody there is no beauty in possessing him or her, or rather appreciating the individual. For instance, the beauty of a flower is at its best when it is blooming in its natural place. The moment you pluck it off and put it in your coat’s buttonhole the essence of its beauty is lost. Love is not demanded. Or rather, we should be eligible for it. This simple yet very sublime outlook to love helps in creating a society which is devoid of many negative emotions that gnaw at its people.
Love is not about pinning our faith on somebody. Instead, love is synonymous with giving and the giver goes totally oblivious of the need of its reciprocation. It is not about accepting someone as they are either. While we say we accept someone as they are, deep down in the subconscious there always lies an opposing voice in us that keeps saying “not accepted”. So, love is about appreciating what someone else is.
Let’s undergo a moment of soul-searching and ask ourselves: do we love somebody because they are the way we want them to be? If your answer is “yes” then you fall far behind from being closer to love. It is nothing more than a trading, a transaction or a pact between two people. In authentic love, freedom comes with no strings attached. This eventually leads to the situation where both people know the language of giving and gratitude thereby creating an aura of coexistence. The problem today’s society is facing is intolerance. For instance, if someone behaves with us to our disadvantage or to our dismay we cannot forgive and forget but hold on to it forever.
Given the curtailment of freedom brought about by “love” these days, it can be said with absolute certainty that it was not love and if it was it wouldn’t limit its scope and glory to romantic love. Unless we can see love in the whole creation of God, our claim to have loved something or someone remains absurd and meaningless because if your love is authentic it is authentic for not just your lover or spouse but for the whole creation of God.
(Writer is a teacher at Rosebud School, Kathmandu)