The Art of Loving
By Vraja Bihari Dasa
“We often love things and use people while actually we should be loving people and using things…”
What is a greater source of inspiration, money or love? A housemaid might be paid ten thousand rupees per week to care for the baby while the mother spends sleepless nights serving her offspring. It is no surprise that the mother would serve the child better although she expects no remuneration. The motivating factor for the mother is Love as compared to the maid who is inspired by money. The world is madly running after money but badly wanting love. Men seek career growths and fame but deep within wish someone genuinely loved them.
For millenniums poets and writers have eulogized romance through their creative and emotional expressions. Sadly however just as a hungry man cannot feed others, the world starved of real love is unsuccessful in promoting peace and harmony. Little wonder then that glamour heroes and heroines promising love have a tragic end to their own love saga.
The tragic ‘Love’ story
As movies end with the cliched phrase, “And they lived happily ever after…” most, including the champions of love sigh, “if ever there was a lie spoken, it is this”. Behind the veil of loving smiles and embraces, the role models privately swear that nothing could be further from truth. But why do romantic episodes have a painful end?
‘Love’ in all these cases denotes the ability of the ‘loved’ object/person to satisfy our senses in some way. The more eluding it is, more the craving. As the desperation to possess and enjoy the object grows, an esoteric term ‘Love’ is assigned to express this emotion. However, as the loved object satisfies the desires, the senses agitate more. Like an itch, the more one rubs it, more the demand and eventually there’s more pain and bleeding. Similarly the mind and senses keep asking for more than what we can provide. Moreover the body being temporary looses its attractive charm with the passage of time. Since for most, ‘love’ is centered on the body, the blinded lovers now have a rude eye opener. Thus although the world glorifies ‘Love’, it’s only an obscure phenomenon that people are chasing. What then is real love and why is it so elusive?
Search for Real Love
Each soul is by nature pleasure seeking. The soul is eternal and the body is temporary. Trapped in a temporary body, the soul is craving for eternal pleasure. The facilities of the body fail to fulfill this urge. Only when the soul is connected to God, who also is eternal, full of consciousness and bliss, this need finds its real fulfillment. Each activity when connected to God lends a spiritual joy to our pursuits. Presently all our pursuits are motivated by a pleasure, a mellow which we derive from that activity. That force which drives the philanthropist, the householder and the nationalist to work and serve is called rasa, or a kind of mellow (relationship) whose taste is very sweet.
The problem occurs because men work hard and long to experience this rasa which unfortunately doesn’t endure. Therefore people seek to constantly change the pursuits of enjoyment through ever new films, music, fashions, etc. And yet in an attempt to squeeze happiness from this, there is an undercurrent of frustration because all of this happiness ends with the body. The lasting rasa can only develop when we connect to and love God.
Need to Love the ‘all attractive’
Although the propensity to love is most natural it is imperfect until we know who the supreme beloved is. Our love can be fully satisfied when it is reposed in God. When one develops attraction and love for God, he/she experiences an oceanic flood of ecstasy in the heart.
One who accepts and loves the father will naturally love his brothers. Similarly, one who loves God, sees all living entities as children of God and treats all life reverentially. People in this world are attracted to beauty, name and fame, riches, strength, knowledge or renunciation. The scriptures reveal that these opulences are unlimitedly present in God, also known to many as Rama, Vishnu and Krishna. Thus when we love Krishna, we are watering the root of the tree. (Srimad Bhagavatam 4.31.14) Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON explains, “One should learn the art of loving Krishna. At the present moment we are inventing so many ways to utilize our propensity to love, but factually we are missing the real point: Krishna. We are watering all parts of the tree, but missing the tree’s root…… Real self-realization and realization of Krishna go together simultaneously. For example, seeing oneself in the morning means seeing the sunrise also; without seeing the sunshine no one can see himself. Similarly, unless one has realized God there is no question of self-realization”. As a spiritualist makes Krishna the object of his love, he experiences Krishna’s direct reciprocation and intervention in his own life. Under the shelter of Lord, one thus feels completely loved and cared, far beyond the achievements of most intimate bodily relationships.
Power of Love
Most religions use fear, duty or promise of reward as the motivation to surrender to God. However the highest religion is that which advocates uninterrupted and unalloyed devotional service, motivated purely by love (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.6). Even the devout Christian philosopher Kierkegaard emphasized the importance of love. In his book ‘Works of Love’, Kierkegaard considered God to be the hidden source of all love. He wrote: “A man must love God in unconditional obedience and in adoration……even if that which He demands of you may seem injurious to you”. Even the word ‘Islam’ means surrender and absolute surrender is possible only when there is pure love. Therefore in the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita. Krishna declares
sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” [Bhagavad-gita 18.66]
Devotees desire that their attraction towards God flows just as the rivers incessantly flow towards the ocean. As the devotee constantly chants Ram or Krishna’s names and remembers Him, he develops his unconditional love and surrender to God. Then he even conquers Krishna through the power of his pure love. Thus Krishna becomes subordinate and is controlled by his pure devotees in Vrindavan like mother Yashoda, Nanda Maharaj, Cowherd boys etc. Krishna’s friends defeat him in wrestling, pray for his well being and have a protective concern for Him although it is Krishna who is maintaining the whole creation with simply a fragment of His energy. This is the power of real love, a torrential downpour that overflows from the pure devotee’s heart and inundates the world with love, happiness and peace.
The author is a celibate teacher at ISKCON Chowpatty, Mumbai
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