“If you love a flower, don’t pick it up.
Because if you pick it up it dies and it ceases to be what you love.
So if you love a flower, let it be.
Love is not about possession.
Love is about appreciation.”
Love has been the topic of poets, philosophers, and writers since time immemorial. I do not claim to have the answer to one of the oldest questions – but, I do have some thoughts on it which I will share.
Osho describes the basis of what I believe love to be beautifully, he says: “Love is not about possession. Love is about appreciation”.
There are no rules to appreciation; to appreciate something one does not need to ‘own it’ in the same way that appreciating the sunrise does not require one to have proprietorship of sunlight. One simply does, whether the sun notices us or not, whether we are loved back or not.
Before one can fully love another, I believe there is a certain criteria that needs to be fulfilled if it is to be deep, true, and unconditional.
One must first love oneself: If one cannot love oneself, how can they expect to give to another what they do not know how to give to themselves? Two people in a relationship who do not love themselves are like two beggars begging from each other thinking the other to be emperors, both will be disappointed.
One must be complete within themselves: This in no way suggests one has to be perfect, but one should feel complete within themselves. To enter into a relationship simply because you have gaps in your life you need filling, is to enter a circumstantial relationship for those needs. What happens when you learn, when you grow, when you no longer need those gaps filled? There will cease to be a reason for the relationship. The worse could happen and you could not fill those gaps and then its merely a relationship of dependancy.
One must enjoy solitude: This is intricately connected to loving oneself and being complete in oneself. If you are comfortable with being alone with yourself without feeling lonely, you can then comfortably be ‘alone’ with another person without the need for the silence to be filled, their presence is more than enough, because your own presence is enough for yourself. As Osho describes it: “Real love is not an escape from loneliness, real love is an overflowing aloneness. One is so happy in being alone that one would like to share it.”
When one loves oneself, When one is complete within themselves, and When one enjoys ones own company without feeling alone – this is the basis for a healthy relationship with oneself and the foundation for a true relationship with another. This is the start of love.
When one truly loves another, I believe it exhibits a few qualities by its very nature of being true.
Love has no expectation: When one truly loves the beloved, one does not have expectations of them. One loves them simply because it is ones nature to love them, without the expectation of having ones love returned. One also doesn’t expect the other to do, to think, or to behave in any particular way. Expectation says to the beloved: “Please do and behave as I want you to, not as you naturally would, change for me.”, True love says to the beloved: “I have no expectations, only do and be as you are.”.
Love has no judgement: Judgement is the illusory idea of right and wrong, better and worse, good and bad. To judge is to place the beloved into a box and say to them that you accept them as good, as right, as better, only when they meet certain check-boxes of your own making. Non-judgement says to the beloved that they are free to be as they are, and you are there beside them on this journey of life and you will always offer your company, your words, your silence, and your love in times of need. The opposite of love is judgement.
We love the beloved as they are not as we wish them to be, as Shakespeare so rightly said: “Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove”
Love offers freedom: Of all the things true love is described to be, it is most often described as that which offers the beloved liberation – it gives freedom. Thich Nhat Hanh, an experienced Buddhist teacher of mindfulness, says: “You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free!“. Osho adds: “Love is authentic only when it gives freedom. Love is true only when it respects the other person’s individuality“. We do not wish to ‘possess’ the one we love, we merely wish to love them in such a way that they want to be around, want to experience in our love, and want to share in, and its perfectly okay if they do not wish to – our love is independent.
Love is independent: You do not love a person because they love you (Love does not say: “You know why I love you so much, because you love me so much”). You do not stop loving someone because they do not return your love. You love merely because you cannot not love them – your love is independent of what you get. Love is a giving, ego is a taking.
Love is limitless: Ram Dass describes love not as an emotion, but as a state of being. Love is not something you feel it is something you be. To love another person is simply to invite that person to share in your loving awareness. Love like this has no boundaries, it is limitless, one cannot love another more, one cannot love a person less, one cannot ‘fall’ in love, one cannot ‘grow’ in love, one simply has to ‘be’ love.
Ram Dass says it best: “The most important aspect of love is not in giving or the receiving: it’s in the being. When I need love from others, or need to give love to others, I’m caught in an unstable situation. Being in love, rather than giving or taking love, is the only thing that provides stability. Being in love means seeing the Beloved all around me.”
Love being limitless also offers that idea that not only can we love one person without limit, it also says that we can love many without limit too. One does not choose who one loves, the natural progression of love is to love all.
There is no limit to the amount of love one has, one gives, or one is. There is no limit to the depth of love. There is no limit on the breadth of love. Love can be deep, and wide, and true, and many. Love for one does, in no way, alter the love for another.
Love is unconditional: One loves without reason. The moment you love someone because of x or y, you are giving your love conditions, you are giving it reasons, and if the reason exists, it can also change – if x and y cease to be true, so will the love. True love is unconditional, true love says to the beloved: “I love you. No matter what you do, that will always be true. I understand you will change and evolve, I love you still. I understand you will think and do things I may not agree with, I love you still.”
Just as one loves unconditionally, without reason – so too will one not have a reason for loving – we do not control who we love, we simply love those we do.
Love is in the moment: Life is lived only by the moment, it is just lucky that the moments seem to happen one after the other. Living in the moment is said to the be source of true happiness by most philosophers and spiritualists – I tend to agree. As with life, so too with love. Love in the moment is the immediate appreciation of the beloved, always. Love in the moment is the acknowledgement that one shall never take the beloved for granted, each new moment gives rise to new appreciation.
Experiencing True Love
When one has a lifelong romance with themselves; When one is self-full and complete within themselves (no gaps); When one enjoys their own company and thrives in solitude rather than loneliness – this is where the journey of true love for others begins.
When one then loves another, they do so without expectation, without judgement, with complete freedom, without reason, without limits, without conditions, whether or not the love is returned, completely unconditional.
The pleasure and joy of the beloved brings complete joy to the one who loves them, whether or not that joy is because of them or not. Love is not possessing, Love is understanding. We want the beloved to be content and happy no matter how that is achieved.
…and these are just some of my thoughts on love.