A Wealth Of Feeling
What Is Love?
Throughout recorded history, love has burned in the hearts of composers, writers, painters, and playwrights, and smoldered in those of parents, children, and friends. Love, primal, passionate, and pure, has been dissected, revered, praised, and derided. It has been called complex, ethereal, and mysterious. We long for a definition but fear that the feeling called love would be less exhilarating were it defined. Much of the mystery is rooted in the incomprehensibility of love’s purpose. Self-sacrifice, procreation, caring, and romance can all exist separate from love. It is possible to have intense feelings for others but not define those feelings as love. And yet love remains a powerful and universal force that uplifts, inspires, and is strong enough to bring about great change.
Like the wind, which we cannot see yet know is all around us, love is often more easily perceived through its effects. As we transcend the boundaries of ego in order to love and be loved, we put aside self-centeredness and experience unity with another, and compassion, peace, joy, excitement, and fulfillment are the inevitable results. It is irrelevant whether the focus is a lover, a child, a relative, or a friend; the results are both familiar and novel, more so when love is returned in kind. But Paramahansa Yogananda noted that “to describe love is very difficult, for the same reason that words cannot fully describe the flavor of an orange. You have to taste the fruit to know its flavor. So with love.” Those who have tasted of it often equate love with jealousy, bitterness, resentment, lust, or aggressive attachment, but it is none of these things. Love is both a feeling and an action, for as it brings us into the light, so do we strive for the happiness, safety, health, and fulfillment of those we love.
It is true that love can be fleeting and accepts few controls or conditions. The strongest loves blaze into being and wither away in an instant or last lifetimes. The one constant is the release of emotion. Love is not learned but brought forth from within because the basic nature of the human animal is love. It is only fear that causes the need to love and be loved to be buried. When we accept our worthiness and reject indifference, it is then that we are able to become outlets of love.