What is True Love? A Deeper Insight
Ever wondered about the meaning of true love? Want to know if unconditional love exists? Sadhguru shares his insights on a topic that is timeless yet vitally relevant right now.
Falling in LoveSadhguru: The English expression, “Falling in love,” is significant because no one rises in love or climbs in love. You fall in love, because something of who you are has to go. If not the whole of you, at least a part of you should collapse. Only then there is a love affair. You are willing to destroy a bit of yourself for the sake of the other. It essentially means someone else has become far more important than yourself. Unfortunately, what most people call "love" is just a mutual benefit scheme.
One day, Shankaran Pillai went to a park. There was a pretty woman sitting on a stone bench there. He went and settled down on the same bench. After a few minutes, he moved a little closer to her. She moved away. Again, he waited for a few minutes and inched a little closer to her. She moved away. He waited again, and then inched even closer. By then she had moved to the very end of the bench. He reached out and put his hand on her. She shrugged him off. He sat there for a while, then went down on his knees, plucked a flower, gave it to her and said, “I love you. I love you like I have never loved anybody in my life.”
She melted. Nature took over and they had their way with each other. It was getting late in the evening; Shankaran Pillai got up and he said, “I need to leave. It’s eight o’clock. My wife will be waiting.”
She said, “What? You’re leaving? You just said you loved me!”
“Yes, but it’s time. I need to go.”
Generally, we have made relationships within frameworks that are comfortable and profitable for us. People have physical, psychological, emotional, financial or social needs. One of the best ways to fulfill these needs is to tell people, “I love you.” This so-called “love” has become like a mantra: open sesame. You try to get what you want by saying it.
Every action that we do is in some way to fulfill certain needs. If you see this, there is a possibility that you can grow into love as your natural quality. But people go on fooling themselves into believing that the relationships they have made for convenience, comfort and wellbeing, are actually relationships of love. I am not saying there is no experience of love at all in those relationships, but it is within certain limitations. It does not matter how much “I love you” has been said, if a few expectations and requisites are not fulfilled, things will fall apart.
How to Love Unconditionally
When you talk about love, it has to be unconditional. There is really no such thing as conditional love and unconditional love. It is just that there are conditions and there is love. The moment there is a condition, it just amounts to a transaction. Maybe a convenient transaction, maybe a good arrangement – maybe many people made excellent arrangements in life – but that will not fulfill you, that will not transport you to another dimension. It is just convenient.
When you say “love,” it need not necessarily be convenient. Most of the time it is not. It takes life. Love is not a great thing to do, because it eats you up. If you have to be in love, you should not be. You as a person must be willing to fall, only then it can happen. If your personality is kept strong in the process, it is just a convenient situation, that’s all. We need to recognize what is a transaction and what is truly a love affair. A love affair need not be with any particular person. You could be having a great love affair, not with anyone in particular, but with life.
What you do, what you do not do, is according to circumstances around you. Our actions are as the external situation demands. What you do outside of yourself is always subject to many conditions. But love is an inner state – how you are within yourself can definitely be unconditional.
The Generous Brothers
My great-grandmother told me many stories – this is one that stuck with me. This story is not the basis of my life but definitely shaped me in some ways. There was a man and his wife. In those days, the man worked the land, grew crops, and made money. And if you had boys, you could work more land. They had two boys. These two boys grew up into strong young men. They worked hard with their father, increased their land, and became well-to-do. When the man was getting very old, he told his two sons, “I may die anytime. This is one thing you must maintain at all times. After my death, both of you should always share the produce of this land fifty-fifty. Never should there be any debate, argument, or fight about that.”
The old man died, and the boys took care of that. In India and many other parts of the world at that time, there was no question of dividing the land. Only the produce could be divided, not the land. Only in the last four generations, maybe after the British came, we started dividing the land. So, the two brothers always split the produce equally between themselves.
One of them got married, and he had five children. The other one never got married. But still they shared fifty-fifty. One day, a worm entered the unmarried brother’s head. He thought, “My brother has a wife and five children to take care of, and I am single. Still I take fifty percent, and he takes fifty percent. This does not seem to be fair. But it was our father’s wish. And my brother is so proud that if I try to give him some more, he will not take it. So let me do something else.” He started an operation. Once the harvest was over, every night, he secretly carried a sack of grain on his back and put it in his brother’s store.
The same worm entered his brother’s head, and he thought, “I have five boys growing up. In a few years, I will have much more happening for me. My brother has no one. What will he do later on? But he takes only fifty percent, I take fifty percent. If I try to give him more, he will not take it.” He started taking one bag of grain every night and putting it in his brother’s store. A kind of reverse osmosis of grains was happening. Both of them did not realize that for a long time.
They were growing old and still continued to do this. One day, as they were walking with a sack of grain towards the other one’s store, they bumped into each other. They looked at each other and suddenly realized what had been happening all this time. They quickly averted their eyes, walked on, took the sack of grains to its destination, went back to their houses, and slept. Time passed, and they became old and died.
The townspeople wanted to build a temple and were looking for a nice site for it. After a long search, they decided the best place to build a temple was where these two brothers met with a sack of grains on their backs, and were embarrassed about their own generosity. If you live like this, you are a living temple. Then you do not have to worry about unconditional love, conditional love, and all this.
A Pool of Gratitude
If you do not count what you give but always remember what you get, you will naturally be a pool of gratitude. Drop this nonsense of “How much I have done!” If you do not expect anything from anyone, you will live easy. If you expect something from someone, or you ask yourself whether they love you or not, then all these problems arise. When you do not expect anything from anyone, if they do it, it is wonderful for them. If they do not, what is the problem?
A relationship is a transaction. It takes a certain skill to run it well. Otherwise, it can turn ugly. You may have seen how wonderful it can be with someone on one day, and how ugly it can be with the same person on another day.
Unfortunately, most people do not want to acknowledge that a relationship is a transaction. There are certain ground rules and conditions for it. Only if you stay within these rules and conditions, will you run the relationship successfully. If you have la-la ideas like “our love is unconditional,” any day, it will break down.
Love is a Fragile Dimension of Life
I am not trying to belittle relationships, but there is nothing wrong in looking at the limitations of what it is. It has limitations, but that does not mean it has no beauty. A flower is so beautiful, but if I crush it, it will become manure in two days. I can destroy a flower in a moment, but does that reduce the beauty and significance of what the flower is? No. Similarly, your love is fragile. Do not believe fanciful things about it. At the same time, I am not denying the beauty that is attached to it.
But if you make such a fragile dimension of life the foundation of your life, you will naturally be anxiety-ridden all the time because you are sitting on such a fragile flower. Suppose you built your house not on the earth but on a flower because it is beautiful, you will always live in fear. If you built your foundations on the earth and looked at the flower, smelt it and touched it, that would be wonderful. But if you built your house on the flower, you are constantly in fear. I am speaking only in that context. We are not trying to deny what love is.
Love as a Need
On one level, if you look at it – I do not want to generalize this totally, but for many people it is so – love is just one more need without which they cannot live. As the body has its needs, the emotion has its needs. When I say, “I cannot live without you,” it is not any different from me saying, “I cannot walk without a crutch.” If you had a diamond-encrusted crutch, you could very easily fall in love with it. And if after you used this crutch for ten years, I tell you, “Now you can walk free,” you would say “No, how can I leave my crutch.” There is no life sense in this. Similarly, in the name of love, you make yourself so absolutely helpless and incomplete within yourself.
Does it mean to say there is no beauty and no other dimension to this? There is. There have been many people who lived in such a way that they could not exist without the other. If it really becomes like that, that two beings have become like one, then that is wonderful.
The Story of the Queen’s Love
This happened to a king in Rajasthan, India. He had a young wife who loved him and was totally dedicated to him. But kings always had a lot of concubines. So he thought it was quite silly, the way she was deeply engrossed in him. He was amused and he liked the attention, but sometimes it was too much. Then he would shake her off a little bit, and carry on with many others, but the woman was totally dedicated to him.
The king and queen had two talking mynas, which are tropical birds that can speak better than a parrot if you train them. One day, one of these birds died, and the other one just sat there without eating food. The king did everything possible to feed the bird, but the bird just would not take in any food, and died in two days’ time.
This somehow touched the king. “What is this? It is natural for any life to value its own life first. But this bird just sat there and died.”
When he said this, the wife said, “When someone really loves someone else, it is very natural for them to go away with the other, because life would not mean anything for them later.”
The king jokingly asked, “Is that so for you? Do you love me that much?”
She said, “Yes, it is so for me.” The king was very amused by this.
One day, the king went out hunting with his friends. This thought about the birds dying and his wife saying that it was also true for her was sort of playing in his mind. He really wanted to check it out. So he took his clothes, bloodied them and sent them back to the palace with someone who announced, “The king was mauled by a tiger and killed.” The queen received his clothes with great dignity, without a tear in her eyes. She arranged for firewood, put the clothes on top of it, and then laid herself on the firewood and died.
People just could not believe this. The queen just lay down and left. There was nothing else to do because she was dead, so they cremated her. When the news went to the king, he was broken. Just on a whim he wanted to play with her and she actually died – not committing suicide, she left just like that.
There are any number of couples in India where if one dies, the other one will follow within a few months even if they are healthy, simply because their energies were tied together in a certain way. If you are bound like that with another human being, that two beings exist as one, that is a wonderful way to exist. It is not an ultimate possibility, but it is still a beautiful way to live.
What is the Meaning of True Love?
Today, when people talk about love, they are talking only about the emotional part of it. Emotions will say one thing today and another thing tomorrow. When you first made the relationship, you thought, “This is forever,” but within three months you think, “Oh, why the hell am I with this person?” Because it is going by what you like and what you do not like. In this kind of relationship, you will only suffer because when a relationship is unstable – when it is off and on – you will go through enormous pain and suffering which is totally unnecessary.
The idea of love is not to create pain, though a lot of poetry about pain has been written. The reason why you go into love is because it is supposed to bring you blissfulness. Love is not the goal; blissfulness is the goal. People are mad about falling in love with someone, though they have been wounded and bruised any number of times, because when they thought they were in love, there was a little bit of blissfulness in them. Love is just a currency for blissfulness. Right now, that is the only way most people know how to be blissful.
But there is a way to be blissful by your own nature. If you are blissful, being loving is not a problem; you will anyway be loving. Only when you are seeking blissfulness through love, then you are very selective about whom to be loving with. But when you are blissful, whatever you see, you can be loving with that because there is no fear of entanglement. When there is no fear of entanglement, only then you will know involvement with life.
A Simple Process to Become Loving
For 15 to 20 minutes daily, go sit with something that means nothing to you – maybe a tree, or a pebble, or a worm or an insect. After some time, you will find you can look upon it with as much love as you do your wife or husband or your mother or your child. Maybe the worm does not know this. That doesn’t matter. If you can look at everything lovingly, the whole world becomes beautiful in your experience. You realize love is not something that you do; love is the way you are.