Awakening to Love: What is Love
Last week I did a heart to heart talk on the topic of Love on Valentine's Day. However, I felt some messages were omitted from the video, unintentionally. When I face the camera, sometimes I may forget what I want to say. And I was not really prepared. I said whatever that came up to my mind at that moment like I was having a live conversation with the camera. So I decided to put things down in writing. Writing is refined thinking. Writing gives me space and time to think and to record down exactly what I want to convey.
Love is a subject I have been contemplating for a long time, since my very first heartbreak, and many heartbreaks after, because I am a romantic, a love fool. Love is a subject that deeply interests and fascinates me. Afterall, all human beings want love, right? We want love; we want to be loved; we want to be accepted, right?
I also suspect that whatever we do in our life, it is because we want more love in our life - whether it is to obtain the best grades in school (love from our parents), to get a good job, to make a good living (to obtain love from a potential partner and family)... we are hurry to find the most suitable, ideal partner, "the one", to build a family together, so we can bath in love every day (although, it may not be the case in reality).
‘A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western …
Divisions only lead to more divisions.
Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple.’
‘Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire!
The Universe turns differently when fire loves water.”
- Shams of Tabriz
It is an undeniable universal truth that we all want love. We seek love from everywhere, from our family, our partners, lovers and strangers. But have we ever asked ourselves what is this thing called love? And are we seeking love in the right place? And why is love the sweetest thing in the world but it can also make us suffer, sometimes fatally wounded even? And how can we have more love in our life?
I have walked the path of love for a while now. I have been in love, been out of love, been broken, and perhaps also break a few hearts along the way. I have read books on love, listened to talks on love, I have read Osho, Taoism, Buddhism, Louise Hay, self-help books, novels on love, poetry on love. I had become a lover of Sufism - the religion of love, and even went so far as going to Iran and Turkey for a Sufi pilgrimage.
I believe it is only recently that I have begun to understand all the answers to the questions that had left me puzzled for a long time, and most importantly, I have experienced the answers - not just to understand them intellectually. I value direct experience more than mere knowledge. If I cannot experience something, I am reluctant to share my understanding - as my understanding would be quite limited by the lack of direct experience. For instance, one can understand intellectually about the taste of grape, the sweetness of a grape, but if one had never actually tasted the grape, then all these knowledge and understanding are limited. Truth shall be experienced, not merely to discuss and talk about.
1) What is Love?
Out of curiosity, I first googled it, trying to find a definition. Then I came upon this - "To define true love, would be to ruin it's purity, therefore, It has no definition." This, I deeply love. I prefer an intuitive, feeling and love-based approach rather than an intellectual approach, so anything undefined is beautiful to me.
But since this is an article about Love, I perhaps have to offer my own understanding on this subject, which may involve some degree of intellectual interpretation. First and foremost, I want to say that love is not a relationship. Yes in a relationship, one may experience love. Most importantly, love is a state of being, whether you are single, in a relationship, or married, it does not matter, you can all experience love. Love is the essence of who we are.
In fact, love does not have much to do with what's going on outside us. Love is our inner state of being.
"I love, because my love is not dependent on the object of love.
My love is depdent on my state of being.
So whether the other person changes, become different,
friend turns into a foe, does not matter,
because my love was never dependent on the other person.
My love is my state of being. I simply love.
If you observe the nature, you will find that there is love everywhere. The leaves of a tree turn green not because of a particular tree is in a relationship with another tree; the flowers blossom not because one flower is in a relationship with another flower, the flower blooms merely on its own and keeps spreading its fragrance, not because of a particular reason, or a beautiful person walks by.
That is why love is a state of being. Love is our true essence. You are love. I am love. We are all love.
This may sound like a new age concept which some people may despise or frown upon. But I deeply believe that this is the truth, and I have personally experienced this state of being. I have experienced that the source of love is indeed from within. The love of the soul and spirit is the perfect love. The love we have been seeking, the divine love.
One does not necessarily need to have a partner to experience love. And to be honest I think one can only truly love others when one has experienced this state of being - when one has self-love and understands that the source of love is from within. Otherwise, whatever you think that you love, may not be true love at all. How can you pour out of an empty tank? You must first fuel your own love tank, before you can share it with other.
And as Osho said, when one is love, one is simply in love. Being in love is the by-product of one being love in the first place, but it is not the source. The source is that one is love.
Love is the language of the Heart, the language of the Soul. It transcends mind and logic.
Our minds often misunderstand the language of the heart -as the heart and the mind tend to speak an entirely different language (when they are incoherent). The mind is often driven by fear, attachment, ego and even anger, this is not the language of love and heart.
True love is unconditional. Like the sun rises every day to give us light, but it does not ask for anything in return. Existence loves us unconditionally. The Universe loves us unconditionally. Nature loves us unconditionally.
So to sum up the first question - Love is a state of being. Love is our essence and true love is unconditional.
2) Why do we suffer in love?
This leads to the second question - why do we suffer in love? We suffer in love because first of all, most of us may not have a clear understanding of what love is. We may have misidentified love for something else. If the first question is not answered, then we may not understand where our sufferings stemmed from.
Our suffering is often due to our mind's illusions of what love is, and our mind often speaks a different language to that of love as mentioned earlier. We may equate expectation, attachment, possession to love - when we don't get what we want, when things don't go as what we expect, we feel hurt and suffered. These illusions are not love.
In the past, I suffered in love because I was drowning in my own illusions, delusions, expectations, and attachments. I did not understand what love is.
Zen Buddhism is full of wisdom and the second noble truth from Buddha's teaching is that the origin of suffering is attachment. If we want to avoid suffering in life, then we have to practice non-attachment.
The concept of non-attachment is often being misunderstood. Non-attachment does not mean indifference. Non-attachment does mean one cannot love or care deeply. Non-attachment simply means that you are unattached to the result, the fruit of the action.
One can love deeply, one can give love freely, but don't be attached to the result. If the other person responds, then you are happy. If the other does not respond, then it is also fine, you can still be happy :)
I think non-attachment is essential in true love. Because if true love is unconditional, then it means you shall not be attached to the result. Whether the other person responds to you or not, it shall not matter to you. If you truly love someone else, his or her happiness shall be your happiness.
And if one person does not respond, you can keep on spreading your love to others. There is no need to be despair. The world has a population of 7.4 billion; surely, you will find someone who is willing and happy to share your love :)
3) How can we love more? And grow on the path of love?
Once you understand that love is a state of being, it is your inner essence. Then you can love more by opening your heart, by spreading love to others.
It is important to have an open heart if you want to experience more love in your life. As love is this energy from within, if you have an open heart and you allow this energy to flow to others, then it is natural for you to experience more love in your life. The more you give, the more you will have in return, this universal law applies in almost every aspect of our life.
We suffer also because our hearts are closed. Our heart is like a mini-human being, and it has its own intelligence and wisdom, and it actually does not want to be locked down, or otherwise, it would feel suffocated. Our heart wants this loving energy to flow, to spread.
To love with an open heart is also not that easy, as our mind is very strong and many people have been deeply conditioned by our cultures, belief systems, childhood, families about the ideology of love. We are ordinary human beings, not Buddhas, Krishnas, and Rumis yet. We have complicated emotions, tempers and behaviours.
To understand something does not mean we can actually embody it. Embodiment takes a long time. It takes patience, persistence, constant practices and utter awareness. For instance, even if we understand what enlightenment means does not mean that we can obtain enlightenment easily. Very few people in the history of the entire human race have actually obtained. I know that I am still growing every day on the path of love, peeling layers of layers of illusions and veils, learning and evolving each day about how I can love with an open heart.
"Your task is not to seek for love; your task is merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."
I have been very grateful and blessed to walk the path of love at a relativley young age. I have learned now that every partner or lover acts as a mirror to myself. I learn more about myself through the path of love. I understand now love as a state of being. When you are so overflowing with love and full of love, it is natural that you want to share with others.
4) Is Marriage Necessary?
Another topic I discussed in the video was marriage. To me, marriage is not necessary. I wrote an article about this in the past (if you are interested, you can read it here). The substance of love is what matters to me. Also, marriage is not a good system in my opinion. Human beings are not perfect. And the system of marriage may become easy for people to take each other for granted (when they know that their partner will not separate from them no matter what happens) or this system may be easily abused by one or both partners if they are not conscious.
Also, I have to confess that I do have a bit of bias when it comes to marriage. My parents did not have a good marriage, neither did my grandparents. I have seen women suffered greatly in marriage. I have called a police for my girlfriend because her husband was abusing her. I had helped a girlfriend to go through divorce. I had perhaps witnessed the worst possible things human beings could do to each other during marriage and divorce. I have also experienced violence in my first serious de facto relationship (we lived together for two years under the same roof - almost like a marriage).
You see, that is why I do not have any fantasy when it comes to marriage. Most marriages I witness in life are not that happy, even if some couples may seem peaceful on the outside, there still seem to be something missing. They may be living, but not quite alive in my opinion.
Also, I know myself too well that I am a free spirit, a wild woman and I don't want to be tied down by anything and I don't want to be compromised in life. But again these are just my personal opinions and I respect people who have found marriage works for them.
I believe deep intimacy and connection can be experienced without marriage. And in fact, the happiest and most intimate couples I have seen in my life are those that are not married. It is usually a conscious spiritual partnership formed by individuals who understand that true love is unconditional and true love is authentic when absolute freedom is granted. When individuals can blossom and share the love together, and freely, to me, that is the most beautiful, divine union.
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"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and
find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it." - Rumi
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