Love is one of the most mysterious feelings that everyone has. Love is just a word until someone comes along and gives it the meaning. Love has been given many meanings like affection, adoration, friendship, lust, passion, tenderness, feeling, fondness or devotion. We are often confused in our life if the feeling we have for our loved one is really love or not. People often confuse physical desire, passion or strong liking for another person for love. However, the same people view such strong desire merely as infatuation once they come out of love.
Though love is often understood as the bonding between opposite sexes, yet it can have several manifestations in human lives. Love between mother and child is considered to be most sacred and true as it is devoid of any physical desire and often called affection. The love for God or for a revered person takes the form of devotion which is highly spiritual as it is totally independent of physical attributes. One can also love his country so much that he can lay his life for it. We all seem to love many people in or life and often assign all form of attraction the name of love. However, only when we come out of the forces of attraction then we realize that we were not in love. People also call friendship with love.
What then is the true love? How is it different from other forms of attractions and liking? Is there any litmus test which we can have to test if our love is real or merely illusion? Gandhi said, "Love never claims, it ever gives. Love ever suffers, never resents never revenges itself"
What is Love?
Is it possible that one part of the body is having pain while other part of the body have pleasure. Can you enjoy your favourite movie, if you tooth is aching badly or you are having fever. Is it possible that one part of the body have temperature while other part of the body remains normal?
We all know that it is impossible because all parts of the body are connected to each other and any problem in one part of the body automatically get registered and felt by other parts of the body. Most of the diseases can be easily identified by simply taking one tissue of the body and testing in the lab as all tissues reflect the same behaviour in our body.
Yet when any physical ailment happens with any other person, our body is hardly affected. You don't get temperature if your neighbour or even your parent or child gets temperature. No one test the blood of the family of the person to diagnose the disease of any other member of his family.
However, the same can not be said for the mental ailment of the person. If one member of your family is troubled, the pain seems to be born by all members of the family. When you see pain and suffering in even an unknown person on the road or even in movies, you can't control your feeling, which invoke similar pain in you. Psychologists call it sympathy or even empathy as we seem to be capable of having the same feeling as the other person.
What does it means? This shows that even if the body of all people is different, yet there is something that joins all the creatures of this world and which is common is all beings. Such common entity is non-physical since it has never been seen or measured by any one. However, its presence can never be doubted as we do get affected by the emotion of other person, particularly the person whom we love.
This common nonmaterial reality between people is often called "universal soul" or "spirit" or God.
Scriptures believe that the individual soul of the person is a spark of this all pervading universal spirit just like a drop of an ocean is the part of the ocean. Yet the soul of the individuals being a nonmaterial entity does not occupy any space. The influence of the soul is often limited in the body of the person.
Yet by the magic of love, the soul can expand and expand so that it can encompass the whole world in the Self and love them as one love the Self. Similarly by the emotion of hatred the individual soul can shrink and shrink till the person love none even start hating one's own Self.
Love and Passion
Indian philosophers believed that Soul is the cause and origin of body and mind of all living creature. This individual soul is the part of the Universal Spirit or God. Hence the physical and mental functions of the person are governed by the soul.
The essential difference between love and any other form of attraction is that love is not physical or mental but spiritual. Love is purely an spiritual experience as it originates from the Soul. However since Soul is the master of body and mind, it also looks physical as well as logical.
Therefore, when the person is in love, his attraction toward his love may look physical if the soul so desires. Love also looks perfectly logical also since mind itself is controlled by the soul.
However, the essential character of love is that it is spiritual. If a man love someone, his soul is extended to encompass the soul of his loved one in a way that both the soul becomes one and develops a bond with each other.
They both love their original nature and transform themselves to become complementary to each other to make a single entity. In this way love is like the bond between two or more atoms of waters i.e. Hydrogen and Oxygen which when bonded together become one and lose the nature of the individual atom.
The individuality of their body and soul is lost and a new soul is created by the synthesis of the souls of the loved ones. Therefore, you feel happy when the your loved one is happy and you feel sad when your loved one is sad, as you have no separate identity than your loved one. Robert A. Heinlein has rightly said,
"Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own."
In the same way you can not see your loved one unhappy as that makes you in the same emotional stage. If you love a person, you were most afraid of losing him or her. It is rightly said,
"Every man is afraid of something. That's how you know he's in love with you; when he is afraid of losing you."
Passion: The Physical Attraction
Passion on the other side is purely physical and governed by the laws of physics. Even though the attraction is very real, often much stronger than love, it does last long. It may be lost as soon as the physical union takes place. It is governed by the laws of induction in physics. When two objects are having opposite charges, they attract each other strongly. However, as soon as they are brought into the contact with each other, they neutralize each other and the attraction is eliminated. If one charge is more than the charge of other, they get charged into same charge which creates the forces of repulsion rather than attraction.
This is what happens with all physical attractions. You fall in love with a beautiful person and achieving her seems to the most desirable thing of the world. Yet once you possess her, the attraction become less and less and soon loses its force. Unless the physical attraction leads to the union of the soul, love get shattered soon and both persons try to get out of it with as much force as they realized when they felt when they have fallen into love.
Friendship: The Mental Attraction
Friendship too is often confused with love, particularly it the friendship is between the people of opposite sex. The necessary nature of friendship is that it is purely based on the meeting of mind. People become friend when they like the thoughts of other person. Yet friends are replaceable, as there is no spiritual union between the friends. When the people develop different thoughts, the friendship is broken. The change of friends does not bear any permanent mark on the soul as friendship is never based on union of soul.
However, friendship is automatic between the people who love. When there is an union of soul, the physical and mental union is automatic. The only difference is that people in love are friends without even being aware of it. You can't make yourself a friend of yours since you are one. Same is true with love. However, when the separation occurs, then only the force if the attraction is realized and people understand, how much they love and need other person. Lovers are thus true friends as such friendship is free from adjustments as the lovers have understood each other so well that they know the mind of their loved one from their own mind. Therefore, the question of misunderstanding and confusion does not arise.
The Quest of True Love
It is thus evident that love is a spiritual experience of the human beings that is manifested in the meeting of the souls. However, since the body and mind are the manifestations of the soul in the physical realm, love does take the form of passion and friendship. The attraction at the level of body and mind are the creation of the nature that brings the loved one together and join their soul. Therefore, every love may start from physical or mental level but soon, it must reach to the level of spirit which is the true cause and the source of the love.