So, I’ve been going to some talks lately at the Hare Krishna centre near me ~ if you’ve not ever crossed paths with a Hare Krishna then you might know some of their famous followers; George Harrison, Steve Jobs and Russell Brand being amongst them. I wouldn’t class myself as a devotee; but of all the religions that have thus far crossed my path, it’s the one I’ve been the most drawn to… I like that they don’t specify that whatever God figure you perceive to exist (be it Mohammad, Jesus, The Universe and so on), that they don’t deem it necessary for you to call “Him/Her/It”, Krishna; yes, that’s their belief; but they aren’t so egotistical about it that if you don’t follow in the idea of Krishna specifically, then you are in some way damned. Which I kinda like as I’ve never responded well to institutional thinking that’s forced upon me ;-)
And as far as they’re concerned, whether you believe in Krishna or not, he still exists; which I kinda like too.
Anyway tonights talk was about the definition of love… and love has been a longstanding topic of fascination for me… but I don’t know if I’ve ever tried to succinctly, and concretely define it – I guess because I thought the topic was too vast and varied to do so.
However in the room there were yet more varying opinions on what the definition was;
- That it is unconditional.
- That it’s an understanding of the other person.
- That its knowing the other person deeply.
- That it’s serving the other person.
- That it’s putting the other persons needs before your own.
- That it’s allowing the other person to “be” what they want, even if potentially damaging to them – as to give them space means they will learn and grow at their own pace and through their own experiences.
I’m sure there were probably a few more, but those were the main ones… some similarities, but not all completely in-line with each other. What pretty much everyone in the room could relate to were the giddy feelings of love that are felt at the start of a relationship; that phase where you can only think of the object of your affections – and we had a fairly lengthy discussion on how healthy this phase was… my overall feeling was that it isn’t a phase that’s sustainable; and this is why many relationship these days fail – as they believe that once we’re out of the giddy phase, it must mean the relationship is doomed.
But the Hare Krishna’s believe this state can be permanent ~ but we’re afraid to chase this ideal; it’s fear of it not being attainable and/or permanent that prevents us from achieving it – or even desiring it. Much debating ensued, and it certainly pushed my own beliefs – but what was funny to me was, as, the speaker questioned why we wouldn’t entertain the idea of it being possible, this popped into my head: “because we’re impermanent beings trying to chase a permanent state…” and then about thirty seconds later the speaker said those exact words. Which I guess means something on some level must have been resonating ;-)
The other thing that repeatedly came up / was hotly debated / pushed my belief boundaries, was the idea that love can be continuously unconditional and universal… the unconditional part meaning that in addition to thinking of the “other/s” constantly, that your thoughts are only focused on how you can best be of service to them, with disregard to your own thoughts/needs, and the universal part meaning you can literally feel this way about everyone, all the time.
Now don’t get me wrong; I’m down with universal love; I think the idea of continuously being in that state sounds fabulous… solver of all the worlds problems etc etc. Universal love isn’t a new concept to me, indeed it’s something I strive to attain and work towards ~ but ~ I am also aware that I am “human” – therefore by nature, I will make mistakes and be “imperfect”. Plus I literally don’t know a single person who constantly and consistently achieves a state of continuously, universally emitting unconditional love ~ and I’m fortunate to know some pretty cool, loving, “enlightened” beings. So whilst I think this is a lovely concept to aim to achieve, I don’t know if I’m down with the whole idea that if you’re not achieving that, then you’re not truly connected to love. Which I’m still not 100% clear was the insinuation, by the way… I’ll seek further clarity on this one ;-)
The other thing I just could not wrap my head around, was the speakers suggestion that if you’re not constantly thinking of your said love(s), and constantly seeking ways to better serve them, then it’s not love – it’s deeply caring for them, but it’s not love.
Now, I objected to this for two reasons:
- I love my mum deeply; but just this week we had a tiff, where, in the moment I fell out of thinking of her and into thinking of me. It lasted only a few minutes, and took me less than an hour to “get over it” and refocus on her – but it still happened. Does this mean I don’t love my mum? For obvious reasons I have a strong and objective reaction to the suggestion of that.
- I love my two cats ~ I mean, these cats must have the best karmic souls ever because they are spoilt – but am I constantly thinking about them and how I can better serve them? Erm, no – I’m not *that* crazy ;-)
~ but I do love them; and, having experienced the sudden death of one about two years ago, and it literally taking me a good year of grieving to recover from her loss, I’m pretty sure I know how deeply my feelings for my furry friends run. So, again, I object quite strongly to the idea that unless they are constantly in my thoughts and I’m constantly thinking how I can better serve them, it means I just care for them deeply… in fact I’ve spent a good portion of the day telling them that I love them today, just in case they sensed what we were discussing!
So I think, for me love isn’t so simple to define; as for me, a simple definition cannot encompass the various facets of love.
The closest I could get to defining it was as more of a feeling, than something you can express with words; it’s an energy exchange, something that connects you to your heart, and motivates you to be a better person. I strive to be universally loving to all who cross my path; but I also accept I have flaws still, and I also have preferences too.
It also occurred to me, amidst this discussion of whether love was universally unconditional; that I’m not sure I’ve had much experience of unconditional love ~ which is possibly where my objection to the idea of it stems from?
Who knows what is the definition of love, or who’s definition is right; it’s such a vast and huuuuge topic that I don’t think it was ever possible for my monkey brain to have reached a satisfactory conclusion last night! Either way it’s certainly given me something to mull over – and I’m looking forward to exploring the topic further… (it was the first of three talks).
And with that, what do you think? Is love unconditional? Is it possible to be equally and continuously loving to all souls? Or are we too “human” for that? As always, I would love to hear your thoughts my sweet peeps… and will let you know how the next talk unfolds! xo
PS – one thing I am sure of, is the huge healing powers of love; both giving and receiving ~ and it’s funny this talk should come at a time when I’ve been working with this Kathryn Budig meditation on YogaGlo; which has been having a pretty powerful effect on me, so I wanted to share it with you…. the site is a subscription one, but I’m pretty sure you can do preview, as well as sign up for a two week free trial… try it, it’s wonderful and will make your heart sing ♥