The Beauty of Love
Love, in all the forms that we know it, is always beautiful. We have all experienced love’s many aspects at different times of life.
We have loved our mothers ever since we were born; the love of a baby for the mother is totally one-pointed. The infant looks upon the mother as the ultimate being who will take care of all its needs, who will comfort and protect it. The baby couldn’t be happier than in its mother’s arms. The complete dependence of the baby on its mother is the foundation for this form of love.
As we grew older, we developed a new love, that for our close friends. We knew we could count on them to understand us as we shared the same childhood emotions and experiences. We shared with them our toys and games, fun times and all those great moments at school and in the neighbourhood. It is a time that we remember with nostalgia. True comradeship lies behind this love.
Our studies in school and college brought us another form of love, the love we had for our favourite teachers. Many of us probably looked upon them as our role models, marvelled at their knowledge and were impressed by their personalities. Indeed, we are thankful to them for their guidance and for the vital role they played in our lives. This sort of a love is based on a genuine sense of respect for our teachers and humble gratitude for their contribution towards our development.
Then came perhaps the sweetest love of our whole lives. The mere thought of that love even today kindles memories from a long time ago, and our hearts are filled with the sweet fragrance of that time. It was the love of a sweetheart. It was the only love that we felt really mattered to us at that time, and to what lengths did we not go to achieve that love? How deeply involved we were, and how happy it made us feel. We just threw all our cares and worries away and revelled in it. We didn’t care if we did silly things, like being lost in thought about the special one even if someone else was talking to us - or blushing when they figured in a conversation. It was a special love and a special time in our lives, when even the pain of separation was sweet as it brought with it the hope that we would meet again.
More maturity brought with it a deeper kind of love. This one we shared with our spouse and it taught us new lessons. We learnt the real meaning of some simple words like sharing, giving, depending, supporting, understanding, repenting, forgiving, consoling, and many, many others. We now realized the importance of that one person who would always be there for us to come back to with our failures, or to rejoice with in our achievements. And we also learnt to return that support in all sincerity. This sort of love made us feel that we were on firmer ground, and in a reasonably good position to face life with its many hardships. It made us responsible, brave and courageous.
Then came parenting, which was a new and amazingly satisfying experience. One of the greatest realizations that it brought with it was of our sense of responsibility. It was our prime duty to care and provide for our children. We would often put our own comforts and desires on the back burner, and concentrate on the little ones’ needs. In other words we learnt to sacrifice. We learnt to sacrifice our sleep to care for our babies at odd hours; we cut down our partying in order to be able to read that favourite bedtime story, and any time that was earlier spent in unnecessary indulgence of any sort was now saved to be spent in the company of those dear ones. We also learnt, sometimes the hard way, that our little darlings were watching us closely, and imitating all our qualities. So we hastily reformed ourselves, overcame some of our shortcomings and tried to set a good example for them to follow. Thus, along with the birth of our babies was born a new love, one that taught us self-discipline, patience and perseverance.
As we grow older, our love also grows with us and so does our knowledge. A couple in the later years of their life share an unparalleled form of love. This love comes from a thorough understanding of all the ups and downs of life that they have faced together, of how they have travelled on the long and arduous journey in each other’s company and with each other’s support. When they watch the next generation and its achievements and happiness, they are content that they have been successful in their endeavours and all their effort has borne fruit. It was a long and difficult path, but they have made it together.
We experience these different forms of love at different times in our lives. With every new love we may have to let go of an earlier one. Each one is beautiful in its own way and cannot be compared with the other, and each individually gives us that special feeling which makes us want to hold on to it for all time. And yet, none of them can last forever.
We may feel sad that eventually we have to let all these loves go. But we all know that the Almighty Lord is never unfair. In fact, in his mercy, he has arranged for us to enjoy his own love which encompasses and transcends all these varied forms. If each of these loves in its own turn could make us so happy, though only for a short while, how much bliss we would feel if all these loves were present within a much greater, eternal love ?
It is indeed possible to taste that bliss by making the object of our love none other than the true Lord himself. Indeed, the Lord has, by giving us the opportunity to experience the beauty of love in so many different forms, shown us that we are capable of loving him in many different ways! We can love our Master like a newborn loves and depends on its mother. We can look upon him as a true friend or teacher who guides us and shows us the right path. He can be our sweetheart with whom we are completely in love, or we may seek the same companionship from him in inner planes that we seek from our spouse on the physical plane. We could make all those sacrifices for him that we make for our children. And just as a couple who love each other reach the final stages of their lives with a sense of satisfaction at having accomplished all that they had set out to do, we too can share with our Master the happiness of having followed the path of God-realization through our regular meditation.
Thus, if we love our dear Satguru even just in the same way as we love all our dear ones in this world, and develop the same qualities for him that we develop for all our loved ones, we will be able to offer him a love of the highest order and experience ultimate bliss in that love.
Love may cut you deeply -
but like an oyster’s shell
Love’s burden is great,
but always be willing
to carry this weight.
Like a heavy, laden branch,
it will offer
Radi Ghaznawi, in Love’s Alchemy