Q: What is the difference between love and compassion?
Sadhguru: Out of all the emotions that you can nurture within you, compassion is the least entangling, and at the same time, the most liberating emotion that you can have.
You can live without compassion, but you anyway have emotions so it is better to turn them into compassion rather than anything else, because every other emotion has the capability of becoming entangling. Compassion is one dimension of emotion which is liberating, which does not get entangled with anything or anyone.
Generally, your love is fueled by passion. Compassion means an all-encompassing passion. When it is exclusive, we call it passion. When it becomes all-inclusive, it becomes compassion. Love initially starts with a certain liking, so it is dependent upon someone or something being good – to you, of course. You are always counting on the goodness of something or someone. Or in other words, the emotion gets limited. Only if the person whom you love is good, you can continue to love them. If they turn out to be whatever you think is bad, you cannot love them.
The advantage of compassion is if somebody is very bad, in a pathetic condition or in an evil mood, you can have more compassion for him or her. Compassion does not limit you. It does not make a distinction between good and bad. So compassion is definitely a more liberating emotion than love.
Love is generally about somebody. It can be beautiful, but it is very exclusive. If two lovers sit together, the rest of the world is excluded from them. They have created their own artificial world of togetherness. Basically, it is like a conspiracy. You always enjoy your conspiracy, because in conspiracy you become special – no one else knows about it. Usually, for most people, the joy of love is just this conspiracy.
They fall in love, they enjoy it very much, but when they get married, it is declared to the world. Suddenly, all the fancy stuff goes out of it because it is no longer a conspiracy. Everyone knows about it.
This conspiracy angle to love creates a lot of pressure for people. If you exclude the rest of existence from your experience, it will lead to suffering. If it starts as passion and ends as passion, you are asking for lots of trouble in your life – it will be entangling. If it starts as passion and expands into unbounded compassion, that can be liberating.
Editor's Note: "Of Love and Life" includes more of Sadhguru's wisdom, as he answers actress Juhi Chawla's questions on the puzzling phenomenon of love and life, and discusses marriage, cinema, and the role of women in today’s society. Purchase and download at Isha Downloads.