13547Re: Weekly Words ofWisdom-Love
- Jan 16, 2005--- In email@example.com, medit8ionsociety
> "Selfish love is not love. It's attachment, because you are doing
> things for your sake. Real love has no selfishness in it. If you
> really love somebody, it is completely selfless.
> H.H. Sri Gurudev Swami Satchidananda
The view of love being selfless and unconditional
is, in my mind, a false view and actually destroys
its sublime value. Every Valentine's Day we see
this accepted falsehood (the idea that love
is selfless) being propagated in a very pronounced
manner. Actually, it is committed year-round, but
its destructiveness is magnified on this holiday.
Love, we are repeatedly taught, consists of
self-sacrifice. Love based on self-interest,
we are admonished, is cheap and sordid. True
love, we are told, is altruistic. But is it?
Imagine a Valentine's Day card which takes
this premise seriously. Imagine receiving
a card with the following message:
"I get no pleasure from your existence. I
obtain no personal enjoyment from the way
you look, dress, move, act or think. Our
relationship profits me not. You satisfy no
sexual, emotional or intellectual needs of
mine. You're a charity case, and I'm with
you only out of pity. Love, XXX."
Needless to say, you would be indignant
to learn that you are being "loved," not for
anything positive you offer your lover,
but--like any recipient of alms--for what
you lack. Yet that is the perverse view
of love entailed in the belief that it is
Genuine love is the exact opposite. It is
the most selfish experience possible, in
the true sense of the term: it benefits your
life in a way that involves no sacrifice of
others to yourself or of yourself to others.
For instance, I never felt one moment of
sacrifice for anything that I did for my son.
I take care of my elderly father and
definitely consider it a sacrifice on my part.
A sacrifice I face because of decisions I made.
This is NOT love. This is DUTY and honoring a
To love a person is selfish because it means
that you value that particular person, that
he or she makes your life better, that he or
she is an intense source of joy--to you. A
"disinterested" love is a contradiction in
terms. One cannot be neutral to that which one
values. The time, effort and money you spend
on behalf of someone you love are not sacrifices,
but actions taken because his or her happiness
is crucially important to your own. Such
actions would constitute sacrifices only
if they were done for a stranger--or for
an enemy. Those who argue that love demands
self-denial must hold the bizarre belief that
it makes no personal difference whether your
loved one is healthy or sick, feels pleasure
or pain, is alive or dead.
It is regularly asserted that love should
be unconditional, and that we should
"love everyone as a brother." We see this
view advocated by the "non-judgmental"
grade-school teacher who tells his class
that whoever brings a Valentine's Day card
for one student must bring cards for everyone.
We see it in the appalling dictum of "Hate
the sin, but love the sinner"--which would
have us condemn death camps but send Hitler
a box of Godiva chocolates. Most people
would agree that having sex with a person
one despises is debased. Yet somehow, when
the same underlying idea is applied to love,
people consider it noble.
Love is far too precious to be offered
indiscriminately. It is, above all, in
the area of love that egalitarianism
ought to be repudiated. Love represents an
exalted exchange--a spiritual exchange--between
two people, for the purpose of mutual benefit.
You love someone because he or she is a
value--a selfish value to you, as determined
by your standards--just as you are a value to
him or her.
It is the view that you ought to be given
love unconditionally--the view that you
do not deserve it any more than some
random bum, the view that it is not a
response to anything particular in you, the
view that it is causeless--which
exemplifies the most ignoble conception
of this sublime experience.
The nature of love places certain demands
on those who wish to enjoy it. You must
regard yourself as worthy of being loved.
Those who expect to be loved, not because
they offer some positive value, but because
they don't--i.e., those who demand love as
altruistic duty--are parasites. Someone
who says "Love me just because I need it"
seeks an unearned spiritual value--in the
same way that a thief seeks unearned wealth.
And now, I see Valentine's Day (which is
fast approaching)--with its colorful cards,
mouth-watering chocolates and silky lingerie--as
a means of giving material form to this
spiritual value. It is a moment for you to
pause, to ignore the trivialities of life--and
to celebrate the selfish pleasure of being
worthy of someone's love and of having found
someone worthy of yours.
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