What Is Love?
Summary: What is love? And what is unconditional love - if there is such a thing! Is love just one more need, which has been glorified? Sadhguru narrates a beautiful and touching story of a king and his loving wife. He also elaborates on the science of 'mangalsutra', and how it is a tool for two beings to get entwined, and sadly how the science has been lost now. So, is love the goal of life? Sadhguru clarifies...
article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org
What Love Is and What Love Isn’t
Q: Love seems to be the driving force in my life. I think I am a little confused about being one with someone versus having unconditional love for someone.
Sadhguru: Is it really unconditional?
Q: I don’t know. Okay, maybe not.
Sadhguru: There are any number of conditions, isn’t it? All the conditions you have set for the other person, all the expectations you have of the other person, if they are all broken tomorrow, the same love will turn into anger and then hatred. So if we have to maintain your love, we have to control the other person in such a way that he does only what you expect him to do! Otherwise, this wonderful love will turn into very nasty anger.
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 jokingly asked, “Is that so for you? Do you love me that much?”
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.
Mangalsutra: Entwining Two Lives Together
People have loved like this because somewhere, two beings got entwined. In India, there was a whole science behind how marriage was conducted. When two people were to be married, it was not just the compatibility of the families and bodies that was looked at. The energy compatibility was looked at.
Most of the time, the two people would not have even seen each other. It did not matter because the compatibility had been fixed by someone who knew this better than them. If they themselves made choices, they would make choices depending upon the shape of the nose, the eyes and this and that, which will not mean anything three days after the wedding. If your wife has wonderful eyes but she only glares at you, what is the point?
Mangalsutra means a sacred thread. Preparing a sacred thread is an elaborate science.
When marriages were fixed by someone who knew, they prepared something called a mangalsutra. Mangalsutra means a sacred thread. Preparing a sacred thread is an elaborate science. We make a few strands of raw cotton, smear it with vermilion and turmeric, and then it is energized in a certain way. Once this is tied, it is for life and beyond.
There have been situations where the same couples have remained as couples for lifetimes, consciously choosing to be like that because they employed ways to tie people together not just on the physical or emotional level. What you do on the level of the body, mind and emotion goes with death. But what you do on the level of the energy stays on. You can actually tie peoples’ nadistogether. This is why it was considered that once it is done, it is for life. There is no question of reconsidering because something far deeper than your understanding has been tied together by people who knew what to do.
What you do on the level of the body, mind and emotion goes with death. But what you do on the level of the energy stays on.
Nowadays, the same procedure is done, but by people who do not know what to do. So people are naturally refusing, “We don’t want to wear the damn thread.” Whether you wear it or not does not mean anything now, because the science behind it has been lost.
When it was done by someone who knew how to do it, then for those two people, it does not arise in their mind, “Should this person be my wife or not?” “Is this man going to be my husband forever?” It just goes on. Even with death it does not stop.
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 the energies were tied like this. 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.
Love is not the Goal
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.