Love is the drive of life, the principal stimulating force. But ordinary human love tires after some time and as ruled by ego, it often fizzles out, frustrated. But if one loves the Divine, it never tires; it transforms life.
What Is Love?
Love Is Power; Love Is Weakness
You may find a plethora of famous quotes on the romantic sublimity, the uplifting quality of love like “You may call it madness; but it is love.” There is no denying that love sublimates life, beautifies life, electrifies life, transforms life. Yet it is wise to see the flip side, the reverse side of love.
Francis Bacon, one of the profoundest thinkers of the world, warns: “It is impossible to love and to be wise.” He explains: “The stage is more beholding to love than the life of man. For as to the stage, love is ever matter of comedies, and now and then of tragedies; but in life it doth much mischief; sometimes like a siren, sometimes like a fury. You may observe that amongst all the great and worthy persons, there is not one that has been transported to the mad degree of love: which shows that great spirits, and great business, do keep out this weak passion.”
Now let us see how Swami Vivekananda differentiates true love from pseudo love. According to him, true love knows no bargaining, no asking for return; it is not shop-keeping. But what we commonly see in love is what the Swami warns us against: a bargaining, shop-keeping, passionate expectations of return.
It is true that love brings joy in life, energizes life, invigorates life, even fulfills life (though in a limited sense). But love is invariably egoistic and so it is mixed up with the desire to be loved in return. If there is no equal reciprocity, love fades and then dies out and seeks other sources of satisfaction. And this passion of loving for being loved in return in equal or greater measure inevitably brings suffering in life.
Love Is Desire
Ego-Fed, Unstable, Often Ending in Bitterness
Human love is always unreliable, capricious, reckless because it is steeped in selfishness and desire. And so it wallows in demands, jealousy, heart-burning, abhimana, rancor, clashes, anger and even rage bordering on madness. Even friendship is prone to the same passions, the same weaknesses. In most cases, it does not last and it may even end in malice and hatred. We all know that a faithful friend seldom comes in one’s life.
Habit, Passion, Duty
Tamasic, Rajasic, Sattvic Love
As per the Indian philosophy, love is divided into three kinds: tamasic, rajasic and sattvik. Tamasic love is based on instinct and habit, the habit of loving and being loved, despite all incompatibilities, a kind of mechanical love. Like familial affections when they become unfeeling, matter of fact.
Rajasic love is fed by fiery passions and may end up in frenzied ruptures. It is founded on the vital need of love, desperately clinging to each other since they cannot live in separation. What often happens is that they separate to return and return to again separate through clashes and reconciliation followed again by clashes.
Sattvic love is more stable, durable, balanced than the other two as it is founded neither on habit nor on passion. It is mostly founded on the sense of duty, but it lacks the fire of intensity we attribute to love.
From Egoistic to All-Embracing Love
Human Love & Spiritual Love
So, we have seen what human love is in its varied flavors. Now let us see what Spiritual Love is and how it is superior to the human love. Spiritual Love is more than the love for the Divine; it is an all-embracing love; it transforms our relation with the world, with life, with all in life.
As we grow through the bitter-sweet experiences of our ego-driven, passion-fed life, we feel the futility of the fiery pursuits of rajasic love or mechanical continuation of tamasic love or the duty-imbued sattvik love. We feel that such love can never quench the thirst of the deeper love that we feel in our inmost being. Slowly, the intensity of human love fades and the urge for another love- deeper, more abiding, more satisfying- grows.
With the deepening of our inner life, we feel that it is the Spiritual Love we have been seeking somewhere deep inside us, an inner urge to love the Divine as the true companion, the unfailing friend, the loving guide whose love comforts, strengthens, never leaves us. The deeper our relation with the Divine the more joyous the love becomes. It releases us from the bondage to the evanescent ego-propelled love. We begin to love all as we see all in the Divine and the world changes for us as our ego-constricted love becomes an all-embracing, vibrant love.
Spiritual Love Fulfills Love
Spiritual Love is in our Consciousness
Mind can never taste the Spiritual Love unless it is transformed, purified. For our crude mind is a slave of our physical senses and vital passions. But when mind is transformed and we awaken to our Consciousness that is dwelling deep inside us veiled by our surface self, we will realize what Spiritual Love is. We feel that if we can love the Divine truly, unselfishly, in pure self-giving with no demand attached to it, it will fulfill love, consummate love, slaking fully our thirst for love and transforming us inside out.
When the Consciousness opens inside out, we feel as though we have been living for so long a time in a dark prison of the narrow human love that shuts us from the Divine, our true friend. We feel an irresistible urge to break free and as we break free of this bondage to the spurious love our true relation with others begins.
As our Consciousness deepens, a stage comes when we begin to look at world, at life, at all beings differently. We feel like we cannot help loving them all as they seem to be the visible manifestations of the invisible Divine. We then begin to pour out what we are receiving from the Divine- true love not tainted by demand, attachment, shop-keeping; no fear of losing love, no passion, no rancor, no torpor. We realize that this is the love we have been yearning for-the most satisfying love possible in life.