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Maytha Alhassen Headshot

Love is... ?

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Philosopher Krishnamurti defines love as the intense will, resolve and determination for liberation from samsara (the round of births and deaths), and for union with God. And Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition, defines love in one instance as "the expansion of the self to include others" in the viral YouTube video "The Revolution is Love" (which I highly recommend viewing in its five-minute entirety below). Tying these two definitions is a love predicated on the dissolution of the self, the me, the I, a "perfect unselfishness" (as Krishnamurti called it) -- whether it be in the service of and gifting to others or the will to be one with God. It is interesting then, when we look at the cultural manifestation of romantic love -- in movies, music, poetry -- that we would be compelled to possess and own the other, or depend on the other to provide the love that one must build within to gift to others... "Baby I want you," "I can't quit you," "I need you," "Please come back to me, I NEED you. I am alone without you," etc... These "yous" that are NEEDED by "me" are usually humans, sometimes, as in the case of Rumi, Hafez, and others, they have been metaphors for that will to be one with God. And as one of my spiritual guides reminds us: "Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love." (Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet) So what is the appeal of associating love with possession and ownership? How have we come to be compelled with this application of "love"? Can this even be love?

There are no shortage of definitions of love, so why did I think to put the two in conversation with each other? For me, these two definitions do not just create a crossroads of meaning when intersected but more so, the saliency of the connection is that one is a mircocosm standing in for the macrocosm. How can we hope to perfect that consummate selfishness to merge with "one" if we can't first practice that with other humans? Why should we even be qualified to receive to the peace, love, mercy and grace of God, if we cannot even be that for the other? Krishnamutri closes his section on love (one of the four qualifications on the Pathway) by asserting, "For if you yearn to be one with God, it is not for your own sake; it is that you may be a channel through which his love may flow to reach your fellows."

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