I am writing this post for the ‘Be Inspired by the Neighbors’ exercise. On January 15, I read a post by Bijosh on his blog Odd Thoughts. Bijosh writes with the pen name Thilopian. The title of the blog post was: Can we define love? The main idea in the blog post is: ‘pure love is love itself. We should become love. We don’t love anybody. What we must do is to be love.’ My comment for this blog post was: ‘Nice Article. Very Well Written. Reading your post, I am reminded of the definition for Love that was given by one of my professors in college, “Love is an Act of accepting another person in Totality”.’
For the purpose of this post, I am going to assume love not just in its romantic form but as any act of kindness/ affection involving at least one living being. There is another definition of love that I read in an autograph notebook during my school days: ‘Love is the union of mind and soul.’ But I like the definition of love by our professor: ‘an Act of accepting another person in Totality.’ I always wonder how people accept those characteristics in their loved ones which they would disapprove/ despise in a stranger. The reason is love – the act of accepting a person in totality. It is also said that you don’t love a person because he or she is special, rather someone becomes special to you because you love him or her.
But a look around the very societies we live in, we come across innumerable violence that is unleashed in the love for one’s own ideology, race, religion, language, love for material well-being, and love for power, etc. So much crimes happen due to humans’ irrational, unjustifiable and psychotic love that one can easily assume that love is not a feeling/ word but an abbreviation (LOVE) that stands for Lots of Violent Emotions. If Buddha who preached that ‘Desire is the root cause of all suffering’ were to given one more advise for today’s world, he might even say, ‘Love is the root cause of all suffering.’
Buddha, the great soul, teacher and God to millions of Buddhists is not plagued by my short-sightedness and would not arrive at such hasty conclusions. Love for one’s ideology/religion/race/language at the expense of human virtues is the root cause of all suffering. Love for material well-being and hold over power at the expense of one’s character is main reason for many maladies of today’s human societies.
Human Beings are paradoxes beyond comprehension. The same people who might show indifference to a lot of suffering and injustice around them would one fine day take up one particular cause. The same people who would lead self-centered lives every day would rush to help others in the face of natural or man-made disasters. A couple of examples come to my mind. One is the example of a group of people from Punjab running community kitchens and relief camps for victims of the Indian Ocean Tsunami in Nagapattinam district in Tamil Nadu. If difference were to lead to divisions and apathy, then these people from Punjab should not volunteered to help. To list the differences: the two states are in different corners of India, the people of the two states speak different languages, there is a popular perception/ school of thought that the people of these two states belong to different human races, a lot of victims and a lot of volunteers belonged to different religions as well, to name a few. Add to these most of the volunteers might not even face the natural tragedies caused by the sea in their life time (Punjab is a landlocked state bordering Pakistan). Yet these men and women from Punjab had travelled more than thousand kilometers to live in difficult conditions serving people whom they might not even see again in their lives. If this is not an example of love for humanity and human virtues, then I don’t know what would constitute one.
The other example is a much more recent one: The battle that aid workers and medical professionals are waging in Africa against Ebola. The disease has probably one of highest mortality rates (the last time I saw news coverage on Ebola on BBC/ CNN, they reported roughly one in two people who contacted the disease had died, in the current outbreak). Add to this, there were cases in the past as well as in the present outbreak of aid workers and medical professionals who were helping the patients contacting the disease and losing their lives. All these factors should prevent people from treating the patients who have Ebola. Yet there were/are so many people, not only people of African countries but people from other countries as well, volunteering to treat these patients and in that process willingly putting their lives in the hands of grave danger. Again what drives these people? Definitely not money. It is the love for humanity and human virtues.
All these train of thoughts bring me back to the question: the definition of love? At the same time there is another flash of thought in my mind. Human existence on this planet will not be dependent on our individual as well as collective ability to define love. It will be driven by our ability to show love and affection to other living beings as well as our ability to experience and receive love and affection.