By Anand Krishna
My musings on love sometime back provoked readers to write to me and share their thoughts. Many of them, including some Javanese living in Bali, acknowledged that, yes, they did not realise that “love was missing” in their lexicon.
Let me say that a word missing does not prove that the feeling is also missing. I may not be good at articulating my feelings, but all the same those feelings are there.
Either we live loving – we live in love and with love; in other words, we accept love – or we reject love. Now, our rejection of love does not affect love at all. Whether we accept or reject, the sun of love keeps shining. The dark, heavy and thick clouds may prevent us from seeing the sun, but they cannot forever cover the sun.
So whether we accept or reject love, it does not really matter. Love was, love is and love shall ever be. Love is as eternal as the breath. We may stop breathing one day, but the phenomenon of breathing does not stop with us.
And then there were several questions like, “What is love?” “What is your definition of love?” and “What is love, in your opinion?” These may sound similar, but actually they are not. So one at a time:
What Is Love?
I am reminded of Kabir, the 15th century Sufi mystic: “It makes me laugh to see the fishes living in the waters feeling thirsty, and striving to quench their thirst, even asking what is water?”
It is like asking, “What is water?”
The question can be answered in a thousand different ways: Water is a substance that quenches one’s thirst; water is the most important substance for the sustenance of life; water is this; and water is that. A scientist may have a different explanation and description of what water is.
Yes, the question can be answered, although it is an absurd question. You would not be able to ask what water was had you not been living on water. Your life, your existence, explains what water is. What kind of answer do you expect of an absurd question? Certainly, the answer would be as absurd as the question. So, grammatically, technically and philosophically the question may be right; but actually it is not.
What Is Your Definition of Love?
How I define water entirely depends upon who I am. If I follow the religion of absurdities, if I have faith in the absurdities of life, and I tend to cling on those absurdities, then, I may define it in an absurd manner too. However, such definition may not have a particle of truth.
Leave aside love, how do I define Bali? How do I define my life on the isle? How do I define the peoples of Bali? How do I define anything? My definitions are based on my perceptions, even my imaginations. So the question is how could such definition help you? What would my definition mean to you anyway?
To some of us Bali is the island of gods – plural, and with small “g.” And we may accept such definition. But the majority of Indonesians may dread such definition, “God is one. What do you know about God, you infidel?” So?
We look at the bright sides; some may look at the dark sides of Bali. Which definition is right? Whose definition is right?
The colourful rituals here fascinate the visitors, but what about those performing them? They spend their hard-earned money, even sell their land to perform certain rituals, which make the tourists happy, and the travel agents and guides richer, but leave many of the natives paupers. So how would you define the rituals on the isle?
Our definitions differ.
So, my dear friend, of what use would be my definition of love to you?
What is Love in Your Opinion?
The question is generic in nature. This question takes us a step behind the second question, “What is your definition of love?” Our definitions are the products of our opinions, perceptions. So, now, we are looking at the womb that gives birth to definitions.
What is my opinion about love?
Well, my opinion about love is that it is beyond all opinions. I have not known love if I still opine about it. Love is an experience. It is an experiment. There is no experience as awesome, as amazing, as love. At the same time, there is no experiment as dangerous, and as risky, as love.
Awesome and amazing, because love can raise you to unimaginable heights. Remember the famous biblical saying from 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
For the devout Hindus, “Love is God, and God is Love.” The Muslims refer to love and compassion as the two foremost qualities of God, “Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim.” And the Buddha placed Metta, or Loving Kindness, as one of the most important virtues that must be attained and practiced by the so-called sentient beings.
In other words, love can raise us to Godhood, or to Godliness “within” if we despise the word God. But, then, before we reach those heights, we must let go of the pit-consciousness that we all are experiencing at this point. This pit-consciousness is the fear-based, animalistic consciousness trapped in the game of survival and competition. Let go of the animal within, and realise your Godhood, the Godliness within.
Anand Krishna is a spiritual activist and author with healing centres in Jakarta and Bali, including a new live-in ashram in Ubud (www.ubud.anandashram.asia).