Crazy lil thing called love

    The Heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.... Blaise Pascal

‘Tell us the one unforgettable experience of your life’ was the question thrown out of the blue by my seniors. It was fresher’s night at the Dept of Electronics & Comn Engineering, IIT Kharagpur. I was a little old for a fresher but I had been there and done that having been to war torn nations, swept away by a Himalayan Stream and so on. However, to my surprise I found myself responding , ‘The day the pretty girl in my Class who I was in love with all the fervour that only a 15 year old can have, walked up to me  and said ‘Do you have last year’s question papers?’’.  That night the moon was rounder, brighter and the cool night breeze carried a fragrance that I still can’t forget. 
         Now I am a lot older and wiser – and yet still long for the unbearable sweetness of existence when I was in love or infatuation or whatever you want to call it.  From where did it come? How did it arise? Why didn’t it last? Was it hormonal imbalance or was it nature's way of ensuring the survival of the species. 
          Hindu Godmen make no bones of the fact that all they offer is unconditional love. The Buddha spoke of compassion rather than love but was quite certain that this was the first step in living the holy life. Love seems to be a mystery - almost as much as God even. 
         Romantic movies at times seemed to have the answer. Who can forget Humphrey Bogart  as he gives up his seat on the last plane  out of  Casablanca  for Ingrid Bergman and her husband, or when Jack Nicholson tells Helen Hunt, ‘you make me want to be a better man’ or when Renee Zellweger tells Jerry Maguire ,’you had me at hello’ or when Julia Roberts tells Hugh Grant,’ This fame thing isn't real you know – I am just a girl asking for her boy to love her’.   In ‘The Beautiful Mind’ mathematician John Nash’s junks a lifetime of logic and reason for the mysterious equations of love.
        My search led me to the ancient Greeks who with their penchant for cold analysis have classified love.  Conventional romantic love that is passionate and emotional  is Eros from which Eroticism springs. Ludus, is a love that is played as a game or sport involving conquest – the chase is all important! Storge is the affectionate love that slowly develops from friendship.  Pragma love is driven by the head, not the heart – so resoundingly successful in the arranged marriage scene in India!  Finally agape a  selfless altruistic love that is  spiritual.

        I have experienced all these forms of love except agape. They all fail in the acid test of permanence. From the point of view of longevity, spiritual love seems to be the most promising – and who better than Osho who experimented in free love and tore down societal barriers. In one of his discourses he remarked that a girl has been taught to be a little ahead of the boy always. Not so far ahead that the boy loses interest – but just that little bit ahead with that occasional backward glance. When finally he catches up or she succumbs the girl is morally ahead of the game. It is not her fault. She always knew that she was not perfect – It was the boy who was chasing her. 

          So perhaps, this is the first step – to truly love another one must feel worthy of being loved. There is no better way for this than to begin by consciously relating to all situations, events and people from the perspective of love.   If you were in love with all the people in the drama being enacted how would you respond. Jesus Christ on the Cross, the Buddha practicing loving kindness, Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa helplessly proclaiming ,’O ye children of the light’  give us a way of doing just this. Simply put, love begets love.  

        This brings us to the importance of acceptance. Love happens when you accept a person, a situation or an organisation completely without any barriers. When ego barriers drop, you are one with existence and bliss happens. As it did to me when I had my first crush. For the first time after infancy I had completely succumbed to another person and in the process demolished barriers between me and existence. Meera Bai, saw Krishna everywhere and Jesus saw God in every human being even in  those who crucified him. It is easiest for a mother because the child has been a part of her for 9 months and for her there is no difference between the child and herself.  The point is that love is not restricted to one person or one definition - whenever ego barriers drop, the heart expands and love happens. Unfortunately those barriers again swing back since day to day living provides many reality checks and the hard work of love and loving then begins. When you feel that a person is being inconsiderate or uncaring, you may wish to react. But if you realise that the feeling has come from a thought in your head - then that thought is within your control. And when you control that thought you control your feelings and you respond rather than react. This automatically makes you loving and accepting since you realise that you can only control your thoughts but not any other person external to you. Ultimately all peace and joy lies within. And with that people are attracted to you and your love increases all the more. 
    My conclusion that ego is the key is borne out by Vedanta. The final barrier in the struggle towards emancipation is the thought of 'I' and 'mine' and the separation between 'I' and 'you'. Indeed  at first there was only the one. The one split into many in an effort to know itself. And thus started creation. The one can be called by many names - brahman, consciousness or God. There is nowhere to go or anything else  to be be. For our essence was never created and will never die. It simply is. If the whole of creation is one how can you not be in love?
    And in my experiments with love where am I now? One thing I have learnt this far – love is not the destination it is the road to be traveled on.


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