Here attempts are made
to understand the oldest and the most complicated of human emotions- the one
with the most diverse interpretations and expressions. I am aware that it is a daring attempt; let me try it whatsoever. The importance is placed on the philosophy of
love than the manifestations. Following are some of the questions that are being
attempted to be answered. What drives a person to love another? What does the
lover expect from the beloved? What is
the role of sexual love?
As individuals are increasingly
realising their relevance in the bigger scheme of things, the need for the
other, to complete oneself is on the decline. This can be seen from the
decreasing population growth in the individualistic societies. Individuals are
finding the need to have children to substantiate their existence far lesser than
say, 50 years ago. The need is more for companionship than completion. This is
not to say that this is the sole reason; after all history won’t let you break
the shackles so easily.
In the current context,
friendship is the only relationship which is left with any amount of virtue,
however small it may be. All other relationships place a certain level of
expectation on the other, thereby restricting the individual – urging him to be
someone else than what he actually is. However, if the nature of the
relationship is such that, one party only requires the other to be himself,
then there is an acceptance of his individuality which is the essence of
freedom. And, if the other party enables him to discover himself, then you can
say, the eternal fruit of existence is taking shape in him. If he is instilled
with vigor upon the appearance of the beloved, if he is performing beyond
himself, then he is lucky to be experiencing the exquisite pain which is the
most powerful of feelings. It can be love for another person, another animal,
invariably there has to be communication between the two for this to happen.
The cases where the muse is a stone are rare.
In a world, where salvation
anxiety is on the rise, every value or possession is quantified and apparently,
more means better. Does this apply to
the sublime emotion under discussion? The answer is an emphatic no. The
boundaries can be crossed only as much as the beloved wants to be. And if there
is a lack of understanding of the boundaries, it is due to the sheer lack of
effort from the lover who is exceedingly narcissistic to see beyond himself.
This is applicable even in the case of the most sacrosanct of relationships,
the mother-child relationship where the mother has to make sure that her love
is not detrimental to the development of the child. The overwhelming nature of
motherly love has stunted the development of many a child.
The idea of loving is not to
extend oneself, it is not to find another who would ignore one’s limitations,
but who would help one to see beyond himself, to stretch one’s boundaries and
be a superior individual, every passing moment of time. The beloved is a path and reason for personal
excellence. As Plato says “The lover is
ashamed to be seen by the beloved doing or suffering any cowardly or mean act.
And a state or army which was made up only of lovers and their beloved would be
invincible. For love will convert the veriest coward into an inspired hero.”
The sexual act of love, if it is
solely based on the external aspects of a personality, is momentary and at best
juvenile. This is not to say that body
and soul are separate entities, body is an extension of the soul. The great thinkers
were not just being aphoristic or poetic when they said, “eyes are windows to
the soul” or “an unhygienic body reflects the condition of the soul”. But
sexual love, completely oblivious of the soul is a waste of psychic
energy. This aspect of love serves as an
addendum to the acts of love mentioned above. The foundation is, the beloved
enabling one to improve, so that the pleasures of life are enjoyable within the
levels each of the two is capable of. (
Identifying the limits of pleasure will enable one to stretch it further.
However, the journey of hedonism is never ending. Too much indulgence in it,
like anything else leads to self-destruction)
From the above paragraphs, one
might get the impression that love symbolises all that is ‘good’ by the
traditional yardsticks. "Love and war
are the same thing, and stratagems and polity are as allowable in the one as in
the other” – says Cervantes in Don Quixote. Is war ‘good’? Most of the
technological innovations of the current world are the result of war, be it
direct or indirect. Most of the masterpieces in the art world are the result of
love. I am as clueless as everyone on this question.