I want to begin this series of articles with preliminaries (or foreplay I may say) about love. Love, such a big and small word!
What follows comes from direct experience acquired along the years. Most societies leave young men and women completely uneducated about love. As a young man I had no clue about what love and sex really meant beyond the physical arousal and the technical play we could have with it. People can grow their consciousness through love and sex if they want to, however most of seem to remain where education brought them, i.e. ground zero, leaving them unhappy, illiterate and frustrated about this most important thing about our human experience: love.
Love as an art
If we consider love as an art, Fromm writes, then you will find in it both a theoretical and a practical aspect, just as you will in painting, music or dance. In dance we build body balance and flexibility, and we cultivate an extraordinary physical empathy with our partners. We develop an infinite set of gestures and steps. In music we have to stretch our fingers, play our scales, learn dozen of chords, train our ear, connect the gesture with the emotion. We must learn and integrate moves, techniques, compositions. In love we learn how to develop the “sense of the individuality of the other”, as Steiner writes, in other words how we can open our empathic doors to the extreme. One needs a lot of personal development in order not to fall in the alienating and conflicting abysses of fusion. In the sexual expression of love, we have these gestures, these breathings that open us to the knowledge of our body, our energies, our mutual ecstancy. Regardless the form of art, only patient learning leads to creative freedom.
Love as an art produces an even more essential aspect than the technical side described by Fromm: by essence art predicates limitless freedom and creativity. Most people experience love in a conventional way. We copy/paste the standard social models of love the same way we repeat the doctrines of religion. But art becomes putrified in the catacombs of conventionalism. Love as an art must endlessly open new paths. It relentlessly breaks the walls of morals, religion, social order, cultural diktat. Don’t we feel amazed and don’t we laugh when we see these texts, words, paintings or movies that shocked past generations? Today they look so old-fashion and so mainstream! However, what remains in us that continues to block us, to alienate us and to make us deny the others? What shadows keep us trapped in the denial of our essence, in the refusal of our freedom, in the fear of our divinity? Art, regardless of its form, has always pushed away boundaries and established new horizons. Love as an art implies we reinvent ourselves all the time and hunt our limitations.
Love has nothing of a feeling
Thanks to experience, life has offered me a second postulate: we cannot reduce love to a feeling or an emotion. Love comes from a state of consciousness that brings us into a “state of love”. We don’t fall in love, we rise in it. When we love, reality changes. Landscapes look enchanted, the air smells good, the weather feels nice even when it rains, life turns into a dream. We feel in joy and taken by a desire of kindness with the world. The graynesses of life vanishes. Indeed loving provokes feelings and emotions that spring out as consequences of our inner state.
Let’s not confuse causes and the consequences. Our emotions, thoughts and feelings constitute the ingredients produced by the inner source of consciousness. If anger, jealousy or fear come out of your “love”… do you really love? When the gauges turn red, they indicate you have left the state of love. Maybe you want to possess the other, maybe the other possesses you, maybe you suffer a pathological need for recognition, or a fear of solitude… Don’t delude yourself: in the name of love as socially defined, you transformed yourself into a tyrant towards yourself and towards the other(s). You don’t love, or you don’t love anymore.
I like to see authentic love as a shining sun. A sun doesn’t direct its beams towards such or such other celestial body. It simply shines. Sometimes its light illuminates other planets which in turn shine and irradiate around them. We can’t calculate love, it doesn’t direct itself towards specific things or people. Love comes from an inner state that can only feed itself from itself, in the being by the being. Love exists at the condition that it has no condition. Then it becomes love with the other, and not love of the other. In the state of love we become two luminous meeting stars shining at one another.
The language of love
Language plays a central role in the way we build our inner experiences. Language builds our reality.
So let’s explore these ontological questions. The ordinary language of love says “I love you”, or “I love Lea”, or “Julia loves Mike”. It addresses love like a vector with a direction pointing towards a target. Doesn’t Cupid shoot an arrow? If I love a person with directed love, it means I don’t love –or have less love for– the others. In radiant, non directed, evolved love, we love, full stop. Shouldn’t we make the verb “to love” intransitive?
Because of these limitations, ordinary language doesn’t support speaking of the universal state of love. It indulges us in romantic love, the binary, possessive form of love, that submits one person to another, that builds itself on the dialectics of dependency. Poor and powerless victims of life, we “fall” in love. Then we “marry” and we make these unsustainable and unbearable promises: “I commit not to change, to remain the same in order to hold on to the relational form that we impose on one another today. I love you, I marry you. No one else will appear in my life.” You know the next part of the story. Romantic love denies our capacity to love in a plural way, without calculating or dividing ourselves.
To make the landscape a little darker, the language of love comes with a complete set of statuses that sow the seeds of separation. Separation from the other, separation from oneself. Words like exclusivity, fidelity, going out with, splitting, dumping, in a couple, not in a couple… Let’s add to this some poor categories: boyfriend/girlfriend, friend, lover, concubine, partner, husband or wife, homo or hetero, gay or lesbian, monogamous or polygamous, exclusive or polyamourous… When I speak about my way to love, I see how people always try to put me in one of these boxes that describe a world of objects and categories. It rejects from our social field the full palette, the vast continuum of relational experiences that life can offer.
In short, due to its lack of subtlety and nuances, our language of love doesn’t shine very much. It doesn’t have much to do with the radiant suns I mentioned earlier. If we want to evolve, shouldn’t we reinvent the language of love? It believe this will elevate us, and so I work on it. Try it for yourself too! Invent words and expressions that speak to your deep, ultimate, reality. Give a new fresh meaning to old words. Free yourself from dusty taxonomies that create alienated love.
Towards the inner androgyny
The only realized couples I know come from people happy with themselves. People who have accomplished their inner marriage, the only one that works. A true love encounter doesn’t come to fill an inner deficiency. We meet to celebrate. You see me and welcome me through the splendor of my being, in my flaws and my weaknesses as well as in my strengths. I see you and welcome you in the splendor of your being, in your flaws and your weaknesses as well as in your strengths. I see you who sees me who sees you who sees me, and so on. The delightful game of infinite mirrors begins, well aligned in front of one another. A kaleidoscopic explosion happens, impredictible. Art springs out. The state of love sparkles inside myself, shining towards you.
Indeed inner happiness requires a personal journey, long for some, shorter for others. The state of love arises from inner androgyny, once we have given permission to both our masculine and feminine polarities to thrive fully inside ourselves. Our masculine and feminine have learned how to dance, how to complete, and how to love one another unconditionally. The exterior couple emerges from the inner couple.
I won’t go any further for now, as others have widely explored these horizons. I think of this French writer Paule Salomon, sadly not translated in English.
Now that I shared some preliminaries, I can start talking more directly about my experience. I will continue with the 4 lights that illuminate and guide my loving life.
I will keep using the verb to love, not in the romantic sense, but through the energy of the inner marriage that I just described, when the androgynous being unites and celebrates life with another being, nourished by the source of his/her inner radiance.