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Love: Do we understand it?

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

When I was very young, the three magic words were very rarely heard.. Yes, I am talking about “I love you”. I remember, I hardly heard these words in my surroundings. Rather, it was considered little awkward to utter these words. One reason could be, of course, that I lived in a small town in Haryana. Metros definitely would have a different culture but again, it would not be as in vogue as it is now. Now even I say these words very comfortably to people I love and feel good about, irrespective of the gender. Society has surely opened up. These days people stand up for issues which till some years back were kept inside the cupboards; like gay marriages, campaign for Kiss for Love, Me Too etc. With increasing western influence and the era of information explosion, Indians have become more open and even a 10 years old child knows more about birds and bees than what we used to know when we were 15-16.

Now this love is a very confusing yet much-defined phenomenon. We all have different notions about love; must be because of our conditionings. But if we delve deep, we find most of the expressions of love we commonly see in this world are based on ‘MY’ need to be loved. I love someone because I want to be loved. Let’s try to understand it better. When I love someone, it is not a one-way flow based on unconditional love, rather my objective is to possess the other person so that she can tell me that she also loves me. THAT’S WHAT I want to hear and feel good about myself. Our love, needs to be reciprocal; we need a matching response from the other person and if that doesn’t come the way we want, our ego-feathers are ruffled. And when it comes, we feel fulfilled, though most of the times, it remains a short-lived feeling. That’s exactly the evidence; its being ephemeral shows that we have faulted in our definition of love. What we miss here is that this can’t be love; it is a tradeoff. You scratch my back; I will scratch yours. This arrangement works well in business or other worldly phenomenon but it can’t have a long life in the matters of emotions or feelings because feelings are fluid, ever changing and based on phantoms of perceptions. All of us, not withstanding how well settled in life we might be, have a void inside us which compels us to seek more and more. The best feel comes when it happens thru’ human beings. So the feeling of being loved by someone is the best way to fulfill that void. In other words, our insecurity about ourselves, not having a real connect with ourselves leads to creation of a bigger ‘n bigger void. Or if I put it in more common words; not having high self-worth or self-esteem or self-love leads to our seeking more ‘n more love outside. That gives us a pseudo feel of sufficiency.

Nevertheless, on social platform, this is perfectly justified; probably nature has programmed us to exist like that only, because life has to propagate. Adam and Eve have to carry on their genetic legacy through us. But somewhere what needs to be understood is that this kind of love can’t give us lasting happiness, peace and contentment which indeed is the Purpose of Life.

Love is interacting with someone without any expectations.. Giving him/her ample space to choose; not creating any boundaries; contributing in his/her growth whatever way possible; not to possess him/her or having control over him/her; not having any expectations about the reciprocity.. In other words, not having any kind of inter-dependent relationship...because dependence is opposite of freedom. REAL LOVE is the choice of two individuals where they may come close or sometimes choose not to come close WITHOUT affecting the dynamics. This kind of freedom fosters real love between them as they understand the value of each other more; treat the other person with dignity. Then only the real reciprocal relationship emerges; that’s LOVE.

I had read a story which goes like this…

There were two lovers who used to study in a hermitage together. Love gave them strength to do more in life and both became quite adept in their own fields. One day the boy proposed to the girl. She sought time to respond and after few days of anxiety for the boy, she said, “I love you too and I am ready to marry you, provided you agree to our living separate. I will make my hut on this bank of the river and you will make it on the other bank. We will choose to meet at your place or my place but that will be mutually agreed upon. This will not allow the demons of possessiveness, jealousy, inferiority-superiority etc. to trouble us and of course we will stand by each other under all circumstances.” The boy after giving it due thought, agreed and it is said that they REALLY lived happily thereafter.

It may not be a true story because our understanding or perception refuses to believe it. But when I think deeply, this is a good way to grow well in life, to live our own legend of life for which one comes to this planet, yet enjoying the togetherness of the other person who we love. Love remains a strength when it moves unconditionally. That’s why perhaps the bond between a mother and her child is different than what she has with her husband. Mother’s love remains sacred and fulfilling for both, till it remains unconditional. This very unconditionality makes the love divine. In the man-woman relationship also, if only this kind of love can take birth!!! A love which is beyond expectations, possessiveness, comparison, objectification. I think that’s what was meant inside the blessing given to a bride in the ancient times. दश पुत्रवती भव:, और तुम्हारा पति तुम्हारा ग्यारहवाँ पुत्र हो जाए. (May you be blessed with ten sons and may your husband become your eleventh son). That was perhaps aimed at realising a state of unconditional love.

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