What is love? We all give love different meanings and definitions, some relational, some contextual, and some even spiritual. The meaning of love varies from one person to another and from one context to another, but most of us agree on one thing, Love is a sine qua non ingredient for a happy life, and something we all crave down inside even when we sometimes deny it on the surface.
So what is Love really? Is it an emotion? Is it a feeling? Is it inherent within us or do we have to learn how to love? Is it in the mind or in the heart?
Scientists identify 6 basic human emotions of which none is love. Perhaps love happens to be a feeling that manifests as a result of experiencing strong emotions such as happiness and excitement. Although we tend to associate the heart with the way we feel, the source of emotions is in fact the brain. Emotions are a biological response to a stimulus which could be internal or external, whereas feelings are our mind’s interpretations of those emotions. In other words, emotions precede feelings and feelings have a rationale to them. We might not always want to acknowledge this, but our interpretations are subjectively based on our own life experiences, knowledge, and above all memory. Does this mean there is a rational nature to love? Could be. It is not a secret that we are inherently attracted to beauty and social success, and that we fall in love with people we perceive a certain way or another, perhaps through the lens of our ego.
What about the widely known cliché “we click”? This sudden inexplicable connection that is felt between two strangers sometimes instantly and effortlessly. The feeling that you’ve known this person before, a familiarity with words and ideas in a placid conversation that flows so easily and synchronically in harmony. Could this have a rational explanation to it or is it above our common understanding? Ancient wisdom believes that our souls are born in pairs, and that we spend our lives on earth looking for our twin flame, the other half of our soul and whom if we were lucky enough to find, would feel like returning home. Could this be a soul recognition?
I truly believe love manifests itself in many forms, yet there are certain ingredients that make love genuine and true. The inception of love between two people is a soul connection, one that is not forced nor mediated by anything in the third dimension. We live in a multidimensional Universe, the physical plane which is 3 D and the spiritual plane 5 D. (The string theory suggests that there are 11 different dimensions.) A soul connection happens at the fifth dimension, at a higher vibration where souls inherently recognize each other, and it is that recognition which sets off the “knowing” feeling within. It feels like we already know this person, and that we are reconnecting again rather than just meeting them for the first time. As romantic and ethereal as this sounds we do not live in the 5 D and the “knowing” must happen in the 3 D as well. So true love goes through phases that transform our perception of that person, one way or another. After a soul connection happens, we become attracted to that person and interested to know more about them. Perhaps to give this “knowing” feeling an interpretation of our own. If what we know is to our delight and aligned with our desires and representations of what we are looking for in another, we begin to like them. Henceforth, we respect them, then beyond respect we begin to admire them, and ultimately we fall in love.
True love is getting to know the other person at a core level and loving that which we know, their perfections and imperfections alike. It is meeting with their angels and their demons, and still believing that they are worth the love and life we give. Bob Marley said, “Truth is everybody is going to hurt you: you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.”Those whom we love possess the greatest ability to hurt us, and the pain inflicted by them is the deepest. That is because with them, we are the most sensitive and our threshold for pain is the lowest. Yet the joy surpasses the pain. True love is being able to see the beloved through different lenses, sometimes through the lens of disappointment, and still growing fonder and fonder of who they are. When love is real it serves as a catalyst that transforms us into better individuals and which above all brings us closer to our true essence. In the presence of true love we can be who we really are without holding back and without the paralyzing fear of judgment. In its company we come to love and accept ourselves more and more, and heal all the broken parts within us left by those who passed through our life gracelessly.
So yes, love is inherently within us, yet we lose touch with its sacredness as we cruise life and pay our dues. Love allows us the space to rediscover and return to ourselves and to see the world through a colorful and hopeful lens. It is also something we need to learn, in order to ask for what we need and reciprocate with what is needed from us. The Buddha Thich Nhat Hanh said it best, “To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love.”