The love we are talking about is far more, incredibly more, than that which we normally call love. Love is the most positive of human experiences. It is the deepest, most profound, of human relationships. It is the giving of all you have to give to someone else.
What is love? Love is beyond definition, it cannot be described in words. No effort to describe love can in any way answer what love is. Love is beyond human ability to analyze and evaluate.
Yet each of us has, as a part of our very being, an understanding of love. The love we are talking about is basic, profound, a fundamental part of our existence. In each and every one of our hearts and minds, and I believe souls, we know and understand what love is.
Love is so deeply a part of human beings, so far beyond definition and description, so elusive to those who halfheartedly seek it, that you will know and understand love only if you engage in a very personal search of heart and mind and soul which leads to the very essence of your being. To understand life it is necessary to understand love. No one can make you understand love, you alone must be willing to take the inward journey. I will repeatedly urge you to do so, for nothing can take the place of that understanding.
Most of us think we already know what love is, when in fact few do. Sometime during our lives the majority of us will believe we have found true love, even though we have not. Many of us will go to our graves believing we have loved, when we never loved at all.
For most people, their understanding of love is hidden deep within. Each time they glimpse love and feel it trying to surface, they push it back to its resting place. Few are willing to search for the love that may be found inside them, few are willing to let their knowledge of love surface. I believe each and every person who truly wants to know and understand love, and who is willing to search and search and search their heart, mind, and soul, will know and understand love.
The search is difficult, it is perhaps the most difficult task you will ever face. If you search your heart, mind, and soul you will find yourself surrounded by multitudes of conflicting feelings, questions, doubts, etc. These will draw your attention away from your search, and may make it seem futile and worthless. If you try to deal with each distraction as it appears, you will end up floundering from side to side, without direction, your goal appearing on the horizon yet never getting closer.
Before answering the many questions love poses, before satisfying your doubts, you should complete your search. Search your heart, mind, and soul, your being, to know and understand love. Set aside all questions, doubts, and fears, put all your energy and thought into your search. First understand love, then ask and answer questions about it.
It is very hard to stay on track. Your search will take you through and among daily experiences and deep memories filled with the emptiness, cruelty, and physical pleasures of a world where love is seldom seen. The cold glance of strangers on the street, the reality of poverty in the shadow of enormous wealth, watching people get sick and die a seemingly final death.
Thoughts of food, drink, luxury, sex, all the physical pleasures you could be enjoying. All these pull at your attention and cause your mind to drift. Your focus is blurred as first one thing and then another interrupts your search.
Even when you think you have broken through the fog and are running toward your goal, a tiny diversion, a momentís pause, and you are flung back into that strange and cloudy state of doubts, not knowing where, if anywhere, you are. Back in the haze, you may find yourself believing you reached your goal when you did not. This feeling of success can be strong, and the rush of living may make it seem even more real since little time is available to stop and think about who you are, where you have been, and where you are going. What can happen is that you can make yourself believe you understand love, when in fact all you have seen is false illusions of love. You may wrongly conclude that love is really not that special at all.
To allow yourself to stop short of your goal, to allow yourself to believe you understand love when you do not, is to condemn yourself to the deep darkness shared by all who live without love. A darkness few recognize, a blackness the depth of which can be appreciated only by those who find love. Only those who finish their search will know and understand love.
Completing the search requires a willingness to start. It is far easier to live your life following whatever sort of daily routine you have, over the years, consciously and subconsciously constructed for yourself, a routine designed to make you feel good about your life. For most of us this means mixing with our daily activities that bring us self-satisfaction and physical pleasure, just enough "good" deeds to give us the illusory feeling that we are "good" people. For better or worse you nurture an image of yourself you have been developing since childhood. An image that dictates what is expected of you and rules how you act, making your life a repeating cycle of yesterdays.
Even if you do not feel good about your life, you are usually more comfortable not straying too far from the familiar. It is easier to live a "normal" life than to question and search and change. Yet if you want to know and understand love you must give the search your all, without fear of, or resistance to, the changes it may bring in your life. You need to search and search until you know what it means to love, what it would be like to live in a world where each and every person loves every other person.
This is more than a mental exercise. If after your search you believe love is what all people should give each other, then you have perhaps not only found what gives life meaning and purpose right now, but also found that which makes it worth having faith in life beyond the grave. At this point I am not suggesting that you embrace without question the ideas of eternity and the goodness of love. I am saying you will find it virtually, or perhaps totally, impossible to decide whether or not to believe that love is worth living for, if you do not know and understand what love is. Only when you are willing to search your heart, mind, soul, your very being, to know love, will you understand the decision to love or not to love. Only then can you make your choice.
In the remaining pages of this book we will give some examples of love, discuss what those who love do, and talk in general about love. Yet nothing we say will bring you an understanding of love, only your search can do that. Your search will begin whenever you want it to, and will end whenever you want it to. This book is useful only if you take the hours, days, months, or years, whatever it takes, to complete your search. If you stop when you find that half-hearted, fleeting, shallow thing most people call "love", your efforts will have been futile and worthless. You will have failed to find what love really is.
It is very easy to stop short of understanding love. The idea of pure, real love, is so alien to our experiences, so foreign to the world we live in, we subconsciously, and even consciously, reject it as a non-existent fantasy. Yet it does exist. Because we seldom, if ever, witness such love does not mean it is less than real. Because the experiences of our past and the realities of our daily existence attack love does not mean it is a fantasy. Our doubts and fears, desires and temptations, weaknesses and longing to "live", cannot change the fact that pure, true, real, love exists, and that people can love one another.
If you love someone who is hungry, you will give them food; someone who is thirsty, you will give them water; someone who is cold, you will give them your coat. If you love someone who is sick, you will care for them until they are well; someone who is in prison, you will visit them; someone without a home, you will take them home with you. These are all acts and deeds those who love do for the people they love. Yet love is far more than the doing of any particular act or deed.
While those who love people will do the things we just mentioned, simply doing "good deeds" is not the same as loving. Many who do not love do "good deeds". Many who say they love, and perhaps even believe they love, if they love at all, do so only halfheartedly and from moment to moment.
It is hard to say that someone who feeds a person when they are hungry and then leaves them to find their own shelter really loves that person. It is hard to call love the giving of money to an orphanage, when children's cries for attention and companionship go unanswered. It is difficult to understand how someone can say they love a person when they make that person feel they need to applaud their donor for every gift they receive.
Love is far more than acts, deeds, words, or feelings. To love someone, really love someone, is to give them all you have to give, true, deep, pure, indefinable, indescribable love. It is giving to others the love that you will find and understand if you complete your search of heart, mind, and soul.
We said we seldom, maybe never, see true love. You may have witnessed, or been part of, one of those rare occasions when people truly love other people. When a mother gently hugs her baby and love flows between them, when two peopleís eyes meet and they exchange soft smiles that flow from the love in their hearts, when someone gives all they have to help someone in need. These are moments of true love, moments we choose to give one another. What we are talking about is love - true, pure, real, love.
If you love, you will help a stranger who needs help, even if it puts you in danger. If you love, you will think first about the needs of those you love, and only then think about your own needs. If you love, you will do what you can, all you can, for everyone you meet.
Those who really understand love know in their heart, mind, and soul that love is the greatest thing in life one human being can give another. If you truly love someone you are giving them your very best. We have reached an awkward point in trying to use language to describe a state of being which affects the totality of human existence. How can we adequately describe how a person who truly loves thinks, feels, and acts? We can't.
Only you can search within yourself to know and understand love. Unless you have completed your search of your heart, mind, and soul and know and understand love, you will not understand what I am saying, or what anyone else is saying, when we tell you about the love we find in our heart, mind, and soul. So how can you understand what we are saying when we say love is the best part of human life?
Regardless of human inability to describe love, you and I and everyone else can look inward to know and understand love. And when you, or I, or anyone else, completes their search and knows and understands love, we know and understand that love is indeed the most positive element of human existence. We know that the very best each of us can do is to love. We may find it difficult to talk about love with someone who has not yet finished their search, however once a person understands love they join all others who have completed their search in a communion of knowledge which makes communication of ideas about love easy, and makes what is said clear.
If you have trouble visualizing love, it may be helpful for you to travel in your mind to a world where pure love is freely given by every human being to every other human being. Do not let the fact that such a world does not exist around you discourage you. We may never choose to fill our world with pure love. Yet because each of us can choose love, such a world is possible! Let yourself feel in your heart, mind, and soul the love such a world would be filled with.
Visualize in your heart, mind, and soul a place where you love every person, and where every person loves you. Feel the joy of love flowing from you to every person, and from every person to you. No war, or even anger, no prisons. No loneliness, no hunger, no poverty. Instead that world would be an incredible place filled with peaceful joys of love not only shared by, but in fact chosen by, all who live there.
It may take minutes, or it may take years, for you to enter that world in your imagination and feel the glowing warmth and peace. Now is the time to start your trip. If visions of a place filled with love do not come to you today, try again tomorrow, or next week. Keep letting your heart, mind, and soul drift off to a world of pure love. Love every person you meet in that world and let them love you in return.
At this point you should sit back and think about what is being said, for in these few pages we have jumped from looking for something worth living for, to the suggestion that you search yourself for an understanding of love, to the idea that all people should love one another. If you have not searched your heart, mind, soul, your very being, and do not yet understand love, what we are saying may seem interesting but not profound. I wish I could think of words and logical arguments that would make true, pure, real, love, crystal clear to you, but I can't. We are simply not talking about the kind of understanding that comes from reasoned analysis. I could fill these pages with elegant prose and poetry describing love, yet not one word would have the power or effect that even a fleeting inward glimpse of love has.
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