Dr. Vijai S Shankar MD.PhD.
Published on www.academy-advaita.com
6 March 2002
What is Love?
I write in to ask the following questions, and they are to be responded to separately for convenience of understanding.
What is Love? How come that we do not know what Love is even though we hunger for It and the Awakened Ones tell us that Love is what we are. Is Love another word for surrender or grace? Is our love for ‘realisation’ a good pointer? Has Bhakti anything to do with the True Love that we are? Is there anything we can ‘do’ to ‘get’ there even though we do understand with our minds that such a thing is absolutely impossible?
Amigo: What is Love?
Dr.Vijai S. Shankar:
Love as a question:
Firstly, one must understand whether “what is love” can be a question which can be answered? Love cannot be a question. For, if it is a question, then an answer should be there. If the answer is there, where is it? This question is ancient and an answer should have been found by now! If the answer has been found, the question would have disappeared. But the question still remains meaning that the answer has not been found. If it has not been found as yet, then what is the certainty that it will be found. Maybe the mind can never find the answer! Also, a single answer, which will please all minds, is not possible for each mind has its own ideas of love. Hence a universal answer is an illusion. Individual answers are there for love and for this very reason there are arguments about love, for each mind will contradict the answer of another mind. This contradiction is normal for each mind lives in a different point in time. Hence “what is love” is an illusionary question, which has no answer!
Love as concepts:
Love is not something to know about! Whatever is known by the mind is merely a concept. Love cannot be a concept, for concepts are different in every mind and love is not so limited as to be different in each mind. Love is neither a concept nor an opinion. Love is not something you can convey through words either. Words cannot convey what you really want to say. When the mind comes in to answer the question what is love, it puts forth its conditioned concepts of love, which have been indoctrinated about it from without. These concepts address love as to how it should be! Should means the future. This future will never come and so the concepts of love never actualise. This creates agony among lovers. The concepts take the form of an expectation, a demand, a manipulation. Each ego merely tries to dominate the other because concepts are not identical arguments and anger replaces love. Love then becomes merely an interval between two fights. This interval mind calls love and even this is not love. This is because the resting period between fights, which the mind calls love, is actually a resting period before the next fight erupts to defend ,each mind’s concepts of love. All notions and concepts of love are merely a bargain! Hence concepts too cannot be love.
EGO and love:
It is the ego which asks the question: what is love? Firstly, it is wise to remember that the ego is false and so the question also becomes false. Secondly, the answers given by the ego to itself or to others too will be false too. This falsity is taken as truth by the ego. That which is false cannot be in life. This is the reason one finds it hard to find love in life. When the ego says, “I love you”, it merely means that “I need to be loved”. This is domination, a kind of a mental slavery. Due to dependency and security, the other caters to the needs and demands of the dominant ego’s demands. This the dominant ego thinks is love, which is in fact just tolerance posing as love. So long as the ego is present, love cannot be present. This is because the ego is always in the past or the future and love is always in the timeless now. Love happens the moment the ego is dissolved into the beloved. Only the other remains and the ego is absent. Then love will blossom to such an extent that even the other will disappear and then two will be absent and only one will remain. Nameless and formless. This being is love.
Love – an illusion:
If the world is an illusion, which it is, then the thoughts too are included in this illusion. Let us try to understand how the words “I love you” are an illusion. When the ego says I love you, it is trying to convince the other into a belief that it loves the other. Constant repetition of the words “I love” creates a belief that truly he or she loves the other. If love is truly present, then where is the need to say I love you? There is no need to say I love you or discuss love or talk about love. You can only talk about that which is absent. What is present will be evident by itself and there is no need to talk about it. If love is there, it is there, present, alive and throbbing. Only because love is absent the ego has to say I love you. This absence of love is taken as if Love is present. What is actually present is the presence of tolerance of the other due to dependence and security. This is the illusion, to think love is present by merely saying, “I love you”. The words I Love you creates a belief that love is present. This belief will give rise to a fear that love might disappear. Hence, repetition is demanded and the ego feels comforted that love is present. The mind has the habit to convert the other into an object to be used. This is because the mind through its senses recognises that which can be objectified. This mechanism makes the mind convert love into an object to be used. Hence, in life, the husband through the mind converts the wife into an object to be used and the wife likewise converts the husband through the mind into an object to be possessed. This is not love. The mind also says what love should be! Should be means in the future. Should always points to the future. The future is non-existent and so too love will be non-existent the moment you say how it should be!
So your question “what is love?” cannot be answered. If anyone answers what love is remember well that it cannot be love! Love is your very being and not a state of mind. So, it would be proper to ask: “What is not love?”
How come that we do not know what Love is even though we hunger for It and the Awakened Ones tell us that Love is what we are?
Dr.Vijai S. Shankar:
Love as the known:
Love can never be the known for love is the unknown. Love is like life, unknown, mysterious and illogical. Love cannot be contained within the mind’s structure of ideas and rules. Love is like breathing, causeless but yet there! We hunger for love for love is our being. Unless we know who we are the thirst for love will be there. The thirst is just the longing to meet ourselves! Love has no meaning. Love like life is mysterious where neither logic nor reasoning exists. Love is like a breath. You cannot say I will only breath for two hours a day and the rest of the day I will not. Similarly, love is present just like breathing all the time. Love is life no matter what the mind says about life; love has nothing to do with it. You simply love all and everything no matter what. You are love and not some concept or opinion.
Is Love another word for surrender or grace?
Dr.Vijai S. Shankar:
Surrender happens the moment we realise that the ego is not the doer. Surrender happens the moment we realise that we do not lead life, but life is led for us. Surrender happens the moment we realise that we do not make life happen; life happens to us.
Grace is the very essence of life. Grace is another name for love. It is the Grace which keeps us alive. It makes seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching possible. It is Grace which imparts sentience to the mind.
Is our love for ‘realisation’ a good pointer?
Dr.Vijai S. Shankar:
Love as a pointer to realisation:
Firstly, all beliefs should drift away from the mind. These beliefs are based on doubts. When one gets to doubt the mind, then the direction of doubt will be towards the centre. This direction will give rise to faith in oneself. Faith in turn will express itself as devotion, which is love for Existence. This universal love for all that is in Existence is by itself a pointer to realisation that Consciousness is the first illusion of Awareness!
Has Bhakti anything to do with the True Love that we are?
Dr.Vijai S. Shankar:
So long as the Ego is present behind the bhakti, then that bhakti is just another act of the ego. If bhakti is time-oriented, then that bhakti is in the mind for time is in the mind. Bhakti is timeless, unremembered remembrance that Awareness is all there is! This unremembered remembrance of God is love.
Is there anything we can ‘do’ to ‘get’ there even though we do understand with our minds that such a thing is absolutely impossible?
Dr.Vijai S. Shankar:
The matter is over the moment you realise that “to do” and “to get” GOD is impossible. This understanding is not total, hence the question remains. This is because the Ego thinks that it is the doer! The ego is merely a claimer and not a doer!
Author: Dr. Vijai S. Shankar
6-2-2021© Copyright V.S. Shankar 2021
In man’s search for the existence of love in daily life, as he and she proceed on their pathway, they may happen to meet a wise man, if they are meant to. Thus, in wisdom, Dr. Shankar is here gifting deep understanding of life to pressing questions and anxieties. Patient undoing and gradual dissolution of conditions, long set by the ego in the mind of man, may reveal that the love that is being sought is the very essence of life itself.
Julian Capper, UK.
German Translator‘s Note:
The question "What is love?" has moved humans ever since in the course of evolution they became aware that they live in constant conflict with their environment, their fellow human beings and life itself. Modern humans tend to suffer greatly from the endless aberrations of the conditioned mind, which creates inner conflicts that manifest themselves externally as strife and war. Primitive man, who had no functioning mind, lived in the paradise of harmony with Life, of which he was a component. Even today, the human is a component of life and not separate from it, but the mind, whether one likes it or not, creates conflicts through dual thinking of right and wrong, pleasant and unpleasant, love and hate, albeit completely illusory. This duality prevents the obviousness of the all-encompassing love that is Life itself, as it is inevitably meant to be at every moment. With the wisest insight, Dr. Shankar here leads the interested questioner step by step back to paradise beyond the mind. But unlike the primitive human without thoughts, who was not aware of his oneness with Love and Life, the past and present human with thoughts has the chance to live in Love full of awareness, which is called Enlightenment. The present dialogue is essential for every human being!
Marcus Stegmaier, Germany.