To love, or not to love? 😄
And after all this time, the Sun never says to the Earth: 'you owe me.' Just think what a love like that does; it lights up the whole sky. - Hafiz
Much has been said about romantic love.
To achieve our highest potential, we need love. Unconditional love. Authentic love. We need the other: an experience in which two wholes intertwine.
The founder of positive psychology Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania offers a similar claim. His research over the last few decades has shown that most happy people tend to be in a genuine, committed, loving romantic relationship. It’s about investment, companionship, friendship.
Those who choose genuine partnerships, they build a foundation of rawness and intimacy that allows them to thrive in a powerful way. Together, they are able to live authentically, believe in and do the things they enjoy, pursue their wildest dreams passionately, and design a reality that allows them to grow and flourish while maintaining core stability—regardless of what the world “wants” from them.
Along the same train of thought, the science has further demonstrated that we are genetically wired to depend on another human being and to desire someone to depend on us. This empowers us, it enthralls us, it motivates us, and it gives a secure place to return to before the next adventure or the next storm.
Ironically, many of us struggle to love genuinely.
Our past experiences, narrow visions for and fears of the future, the society and the ego interfere, so instead of understanding the gift that loving can bring us, we often resist it.
We also live in the world that teaches us to be self-sufficient, unforgiving, even selfish at times in the name of independence, freedom, and self-actualization. We are taught to play tit-for-tat and to place conditions on our loving and giving, or to simply play along the societal norms of what relationships should be like, rather than embrace the gift of love and of another human being. Even our laws and religious dogmas often look beyond the essential meanings of love, in favor of narrow tradition.
These approaches make us isolated, distant and they (wrongly) place us at the center of our very own universe.
What all this fails to account for is that we are certainly not the center of this vast universe and that we are, in fact, most free and most self-actualized when we give unconditionally, love deeply, and receive that in return. Of course, that can only happen if we have the courage to do so. Love is contained within us, but life can make so much more sense when we can look into the eyes of another human being and allow the love to emerge as a consequence.
Famous mythologist Joseph Campbell taught us that love goes beyond mere procreation. To procreate is easy, to love unconditionally is not.
If destiny has chosen for two people to meet, they will meet because there is a reason for it. Sometimes, these "reasons" lead us to unhealthy (or, as some call them "karmic") relationships that are meant to teach us something and often push us to embrace more authentic ones. If we don’t, we keep repeating the cycle. For some of us, this type of relationships is the only type we know so it is hard to break out of that pattern of self-destruction.
But then, there comes a day—often when we least expect it—when the arrow of Cupid hits and we meet someone whom we feel we’ve known forever. Someone who challenges us to grow and thus makes us a better human and a more advanced spiritual being and we feel—and fear—that maybe we have found that which we have actually been looking for all along.
When describing a romantic relationship, I’ve always had this image of a double-helix in mind. Two beings, a part of the whole, travel together. At times one is behind the other, but ultimately they move along concurrently and intertwine in a dance of love; the dance which gives meaning to this life, the rhythm that empowers us to live out the very best angels of our nature, and the path which leads to flourishing.
The mastery of love is science and art, faith and reason, passion and pragmatism, so definitive answers, most of the time, aren't so definite. But one thing is certain, each time we choose ego over love, we stop our spiritual growth. Each time fear wins over love, we become little smaller and little less enlightened.
The truth is, there will always be fear and uncertainty, but then there will always be love, too. The question is never about either's validity; they are both valid. The question is: which road we travel regardless of the consequences?
Will you choose the road less traveled by?
I hope so.
After all, in the words of Blaise Pascal,
The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of ... We know the truth not only by the reason, but by the heart.
May you let your heart win, today and always!