“Do you love me?” he asked me, visibly shaken.
The words fell on me like a stony rain from the sky, knocking the air out of me. I tried to answer, but the only answer I could find was that I couldn’t! At least not with a simple Yes or a No. I realised this was perhaps not what he had hoped to hear and as we lay down to sleep next to each other that night, the number of unanswered questions circling in his mind had done nothing but increase.
It wasn’t because I didn’t know whether I loved him or not, because of course I did; I loved him more than I had ever thought possible to love anyone or anything. After all, I had never known a time when I had not loved him, even as a child, even decades before I met him. But it had dawned on me these past few weeks that what I had thought of as love until now was in fact only an impostor – a conditional emotional state dependent on the return of that love, and that true Love was something so much more infinite, expansive, all-consuming and transformative than this.
A few days after his question, once I had returned home and gained the necessary head space, I sat down and wrote him my answer in an email, here below.
“To understand my answer, you must first understand the question. What is love?
Love is such an universal idea. Most of us believe we feel or have felt love. Every day, we use the word to describe our feelings toward people and things in our lives. We use love to justify what we are, feel, say and do – we even kill other human beings for the “love” of our country, for example. But what is Real love? Would you recognise it if it came knocking on your door? I used to think I had quite a clear idea of what love was. For example, I used to think love was the desire to be with them, the tension and the butterflies in my stomach when he was near… I would lose my words and babble nervously and think to myself “This MUST be love.” But was it?
I used to think that in love you lose yourself; that love is blind. I thought love was feeling the agony of being apart: crying every time we separated, counting days to the next time I was going to see him, missing them so much that a day apart felt like years. But was this love? I thought that the greatest pain was to love someone who did not love me back. I used to fear that the object of my love didn’t love me back, or would stop loving me and leave me for someone else. I remember being so afraid of losing him that I made it impossible for me to truly enjoy the moments we shared.
Sometimes my biggest fear would come true and my loved one would leave me. I felt like my life was over. I would cry for days and days, feeling sorry for myself – instead of feeling only unwavering love for them. After all, how could I love a person who had hurt me so much? Throughout the years, I saw people around me pine after each other, fall in and out of love, divorce after decades of marriage, turn from love to hate and then rush into new relationships. No wonder then that I believed love was just a passing state following a linear progression – complete with a beginning and an end. I perceived love to be full of ups and downs, like riding a roller-coaster. I accepted that nothing was meant to last anyway, especially not marriages and relationships. I thought that people simply grew apart in the end and there was nothing that could be done about that. Something or someone had to give.
I started to think that the love between two people could be measured with the time that they stayed together. My whole life I watched my grandparents use and abuse of each other for most of their 55 year marriage and thought that maybe the fact that they stuck together through the hell of it all was love. I believed love was about commitment, and sticking to it no matter what. Or was it? With every new love I asked myself “Is this The One?” and wondered how I would know. I heard people say that when you really meet The One, you simply KNOW. Your entire being will know. But that never happened. Yet sometimes I wanted to believe it so much that I settled and desperately tried to make something fit. I thought that my love could save someone from themselves. I thought that I could sacrifice my own needs in exchange of someone else’s happiness. Sometimes in order to accommodate the other person’s needs and expectations I had to ask/fight for so much space for myself that I ended up living my own life, in a couple – in attachment and in need, but not in intimacy and love; in give and take, but not in sharing.
But did I know what it meant really to love somebody; to love without hate, without jealousy, without attachment, without anger, without wanting to interfere with what he was doing or thinking, without condemning, without comparing? When you love someone with all your heart, with all your mind, body and soul, with your entire being, is there comparison? Is there responsibility and duty in love? Would it even use those words? As long as you are compelled to do something because it is your duty you don’t love what you are doing. In duty there is no love. When there is love, there is no duty and no responsibility. In true love, no compromises or concession are needed.
What I realised, thanks to you, is that I have been so wrong all along. It has become clear to me that more often than not when we use the word love with respect to others, we are actually fulfilling a selfish need, a lack within ourselves. We love what that person does for us, the way he or she makes us feel. We are thinking about fulfilling our own selfish needs. The object of our love becomes an extension of our love, or lack thereof, for our self. Therefore, when we are separated from whatever it is that fulfils the “I”, we get upset and scared. So when you ask what love is, you may be too frightened to see the answer. It may mean complete upheaval; it may break up the family; you may discover that you do not love your wife or husband or children – you may have to shatter the life you have built. It might mean that everything you’ve ever believed to be true is in fact an illusion.
But if you still want to find out, you will see that fear is not love, pain and suffering are not love, dependence is not love, jealousy is not love, pleasure and desire are not love, possessiveness and domination are not love, responsibility and duty are not love, self-pity is not love, the agony of not being loved is not love, sentimentality and emotionalism are not love. When you eliminate all these, then perhaps you will come upon what Real love really is. Because love is All There Is, you cannot love someone too little or too much. In love there is no measure. There is no separation. There is no comparison. When you totally abandon yourself to that love there is no other. We are the affirmation of the law of love. If love is what is in you, then Love will appear before you. Thus to really open your heart, you need only move completely into your heart. It is not about being IN love, but BEING LOVE. The opening of the heart, the shift from the ego to the heart, can be instantaneous – truly. All it takes is that one jogged memory, that “aha” experience, that one moment of complete union with your counterpart, for truly you are as you believe.
Meeting you three years ago set the stage for everything I am today, although I am only starting to realise it now. What a shock it was – meeting that one person who, just by being himself, allowed me to be and become myself. I wanted to believe in it, I wanted to listen to my heart but I was so afraid. It was completely opposite to anything I had ever felt. Yet it felt so right, so familiar, so real. When I thought that you did not feel the same way, I felt like such a fool. If what my heart was telling me was not true, if you were not my mirror image, then did I really exist? Who was the “I” if not the person reflected within you – and how could I love myself if the face in the mirror denied me that love?
Even then, meeting you changed my life. Gradually I rediscovered myself. I realised that how I felt about myself was the key to how other people treated me. I was able to show people who I really was – without the fear of not being accepted, respected or even acknowledged by them. I started thinking about what I really wanted from life. I listened to what my heart and soul were telling me. And I grew. I learned. I discovered things. The whole dynamics of my relationships changed. My life stopped being an emotional roller-coaster. I started loving, valuing and accepting myself more, and with that I saw an immediate change in the people around me. I laid my own internal rules for acceptance, love and forgiveness, and other people started to reflect them. I understood that my need to save others was actually a cry for someone to save me. I realised that no one was going to come and save me – only I could save myself. I also understood that I could not make another person happy if they were not happy inside and that my love for them would never be enough if they did not love themselves.
Eventually, I understood that if I let go of you, it was not because I stopped loving you, but because I loved you. If I ran away, it was not because I did not want to see you, but because I could not look myself in the eye. I understood that the mind is backwards. Real Love has no linear progression. It has no beginning and no end. It is not a roller-coaster of ups and downs, but a swirling, expanding vortex of light and bliss which lifts us on its expanding spiral currents, transcending the prison of self-centeredness. It gives the two people a glimpse of the divinity within them both.
True spiritual love is above and beyond time. Time does not affect true love for it does not exist on the same plane. It is beyond the boundaries of time. In reality, the three years away from you felt like only a few days. Even now, I do not count the days until the next time I will see you. I do not even know if I ever will. Yet I am happy and my heart is full of love. For what is a human life in all eternity? When I met you I felt like I had known you forever and that between the last time I held you in my arms in another lifetime and now, no time had passed.
True love is a state of being that connects us to our inner awareness, to God, to all eternity. It is an outward flow of energy and light, blessed with freedom, friendship, magic, joy, truth, trust, forgiveness, acceptance, healing and support. Real love creates a living thread to the person that loves and accepts us as we are. They become a part of your life and from that moment on, we are never alone.
I now believe that each and every human being on this planet must fill themselves with love – not just in little drops but in abundance – because if we are not filled with it the world will go to disaster. Even your mind will tell you this – the unity of mankind is essential and love is the only way. This is how we will lift up the earth and bring the world back to the reality of love, abundance, plenty, truth and perfection. There is no climb. There are no initiations you must take. In Truth, it is all totally a matter of consciousness. We all create our own REAL-ity. What you believe is what you experience. All you must do is remember something that is already there.
Do you now understand that I am not asking you to choose me, to spend your lifetime with me, to forsake all others, to give up your freedom, to live your life according to my beliefs? Do you realize that I am not asking you for your time, attention, respect, love or even acceptance? Isn’t this what you were afraid of? What I am asking you, my dearest friend, is that in each and every moment, you be true to yourself, listen to yourself and allow yourself to be free. And that all your choices and actions be carried out in love and truth, not in fear and illusion. I wish that you could see yourself as I see you – through the mirror of my soul. You have been my perfect mirror and I will forever remain grateful for the light you shine on my darkest parts.
All I know is that this time, I do not have to ask myself whether I have found “The One”. And I do not have to ask myself whether I love you or not. For from that first moment, my soul responded to you with an unqualified YES.
Written after our reunion in the summer of 2005