“God Is Love” was a popular slogan of the hippie era, and if you remember it as I do, we can probably guess each other’s age.
Before, during and since, the notion that love is universal, real, and true has been tossed about in every culture the world over. And still, modern science cannot prove love even exists.
Does that matter?
In observations of the human condition, my own and others, it is obvious that most people hold an idea of what love is, and seek it in the world around them. Like modern science, they know not what it is or from whence it comes, and their beliefs rob them of the experience.
Love becomes a thought, a concept, and a mystery—unproven, misguided and misunderstood. As we attempt to think our way into love, we see the effects of this folly played out over and again in our lives, in our friends, our families, and even in fictional characters in books and movies.
In the modern era, our desire to be loved has become a popular target for multimillion-dollar businesses (think dating services) but what we find there rarely leads to authentic, satisfying, or unconditional loving.
As we grasp for what we think love is, we always fall short of it, and suffer needlessly. Worse, we can also bring suffering to those we care about.
In light of this, I have found it helpful to draw a distinction between love and romance, which are not always analogous. Romance is fun—exciting, thrilling, uplifting— that is, until we try to build an institution around it. Yet love is something completely different.
When we cling to the idea of love where only infatuation exists, we soon find ourselves cooking up fantasies without a proper recipe, or worse—getting stuck in the muck of a “situationship” bereft of the necessary ingredients. By trying to manufacture more than is naturally there, our relationships become troublesome, difficult, and hurtful, leading to a woeful come-uppance.
True love is not an idea or a concept; it is a state of being. It simply is, or is not. Never needy, anxious or hurtful, love holds an implicit message that beneath the haze of mental machinations we are, always were, and always will be love, in love, with love.
Love is beyond ego, above thought, unfettered by appearance, wealth or social graces. True love accepts us as we are, no changes or modifications needed. Unconditional love, called Agape by the ancient Greeks, is defined this way: I want the best for you, without any need for you to reciprocate in any way. No possessiveness or control is experienced by either party.
When we genuinely love another, it awakens and nourishes the other’s own innate love. What we love in them becomes a mirror image of who we really are. And that is a definition of true love: seeing oneself in the other.
Love to you –