Dr. Vijai S Shankar MD.PhD.
Published on www.academy-advaita.com
28th August 2013
What does love mean?
Every man and woman longs for love and to love too. Every man and woman wants love in his or her life, and no human denies that. Everyone has his concept of love, which depends on his or her upbringing, education and the influence of religion or the lack of it. And yet, no man or woman is sure what love really is.
Man is as yet unable to pinpoint what love really means. Nevertheless, he is certain that virtuous behaviour plays a pivotal role in either maintaining or accepting love. Every man and woman has his or her personal standard of virtue. If behaviour is virtuous to mutual standards, then love prevails between the two concerned. If behaviour is not virtuous to his or her standard, love is either affected, or even lost.
Man believes that virtues help man to attain the highest virtue, which is love. So, to man, the highest virtue to possess is love, and he longs for this virtue to be permanent, but it never is. Love is either regained or lost, but it is never permanent to man, and this perplexes him or her who is in love. This needs honest enquiry.
Every man and woman in the world says that they are loving. The wife says she loves her children and her husband, and the husband says he loves his family too. They do, most of the time, but not always. If love were present always, it would prevail in every house, every society and every country all the time.
But this is not evident in any house or society anywhere in the world. This evidently means that man or woman may love each other, but do not behave virtuously all the time. This is because behaviour that is always virtuous is never heard of, nor does it exist. Behaviour is always dual - either acceptable or unacceptable - but never virtuous, by any standard, all the time.
Behaviour is an inherent characteristic of man, and it will be either acceptable or unacceptable at any point in his or her life. Behaviour is an expression of life, and it is not up to will power, decision or choice to improve or maintain it, though it may appear to be.
Man’s behaviour could be tutored or nurtured, and this happens too, but it cannot be expected to be virtuous always by any standard. Hence, to expect virtuous behaviour to maintain or accept love is impossible.
Man, who understands that behaviour is inherent, accepts the other as he or she is at any point in his or her life. Such a man or woman is virtuous and capable of love. He realises love is not a virtue that could be cultivated or an ideal that can be achieved.
So what is love? It is not what man thinks it is.
Author: Dr. Vijai S. Shankar
© Copyright V. S. Shankar 2013
Love is such a powerful influence in life. It has attracted more words, spoken and sung, in every language and tradition where there is human activity, than any other force experienced by man. ‘Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments. Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.’ These lines from one of Shakespeare’s sonnets reinforce the question with which this article closes: So what is love?
Man’s creativity has never been so stimulated to give expression to great works of art and architecture as it has been by what is heralded as the love of God. Such treasures provide rich nourishment for millions of devotees and visitors throughout the ages. We would probably all agree that love is conditional, although initiated with a solemn vow not merely of longevity, but of eternity itself. It is a rare man who dares to delve into one of life’s great secrets – the secret of love. To reflect on the mystery of love may be the start of love’s journey.
Julian Capper, UK
German translator’s Note:
“Judge not, and you will not be judged“ an ordinary man once proclaimed, and this spontaneous realization transformed him into a sage. Dr. Shankar‘s article “What does love mean?“ clarifies why love does not judge but love understands. Human behavior is, as animal behavior, an inherent, natural factor and not a matter of willpower. Behavior is the expression of life‘s transformation process. When such an understanding happens to man, love – suddenly, not as an act – reveals itself to the witnesser, i.e. the watcher who is free from judgment, who does not judge, and, if being judged, witnesses judgment as appearing real to the other while it is illusory to himself
Marcus Stegmaier, Germany