If you listen to people talking about love between men and women, you will quickly find that the love they describe may have only a slight, or even no, resemblance to the love you found when you searched your heart, mind, and soul. Many men and women sincerely believe love is a physical attraction between the sexes that somehow magically appears, must be cultivated by keeping the partner interested, and sometimes simply fades away. From the rush of adrenaline and the pounding heart which accompanies puppy love, to the passionate emotions of the “perfect” affair, most of humankind accepts, and in fact welcomes, the pleasant feelings of sexual thoughts and deeds.
All manner of sexual experiences are accepted without question. From the “innocent” enjoyment of a beauty contest, to the pleasures of casual sex, to unbelievable perversions, people enjoy whatever degree of sexual excitement their background and their “morals” will allow. Each of these indulgences is justified by some form of argument about sex being only natural, and feeling good being all right.
Even those whose ideas about love and marriage are more traditional are often lulled into what, for lack of a better description, may be called romantic love. The intense emotions that accompany any relationship, plus the pressures of society, combine to push people into playing stereotypical roles of dating. Men and women do the best they can to be interesting to each other, to make each other have a good time, and particularly not to rock the romantic boat. A general fear of being unpopular, of losing favor with another person, of being an oddball, runs through most people’s minds.
When a man and a woman fall into playing “the game of love” they lose their identity as people who can truly love each other. Even though they may think what they are feeling is love for one another, it is more often infatuation with the romantic atmosphere and the idealized images of themselves they have created. The question is asked with increasing frequency, can a man and a woman really love each other for the rest of their lives?
Think a few minutes about the love you found when you searched your heart, mind, and soul. Then think about giving that love to another person, and in return being loved by them. If you truly understand love, you will understand that true love can exist between any two people, and that true love between a man and a woman can exist.
The love you find in your heart, mind, and soul is far more than physical attraction, or magical moments. It is the ultimate, joyful relationship between two people, where each person cares as much for the other person as for himself or herself. If you understand love, you know it is the deepest commitment one human being can give another.
If a man loves a woman, and a woman a man, when they look in each other’s eyes they are not filled with lust, they are filled with love for each other. When their hands touch they are not filled with desire, they are filled with deep feelings of love. When they are with each other they know their love will not fade but will truly last their lifetimes. If they decide they want to spend the rest of their lives together as husband and wife, then they may choose to marry, and perhaps have a family.
Some readers will throw their hands up and exclaim what simplistic mishmash this is, life is nowhere near as easy as that, nor are human relationships that simple. Those who understand love know that what I am describing is far from simplistic. If you truly understand love, you will understand that the love I am describing is the basis of the deepest and most profound relationship two people can have. What makes these sentences sound naive and childish is the tendency of all of us to equate the word love with what we have been told love is. Novels, movies, poets, television, rock stars, friends, parents, teachers, have told us love is some sort of fragile entity which comes and goes with adversity and changes in the weather.
To people who only understand love in so limited and weak a form, the idea of deep and permanent love shared by two people seems a romantic absurdity. It is little wonder they find it almost impossible to believe true love can exist between a husband and a wife. What I am saying is that if two people truly love each other, they are not attracted to each other by desire for physical pleasure, they are brought together by love (we discuss marriage in more detail in our other book). When they are with each other, they have real, true, deep, love, in their hearts.
What about the intense, “passionate” love we sometimes see between people, which may drive one human being to heady, irrational, and “total” commitment to another human being, even to the point of deeply hurting friends, children, or spouses? I do not suggest the intensity of passionate “love” does not bring to its participants incredible pleasure, pleasure beyond the physical, pleasure which would perhaps be the goal of all humankind were it not for that which must be lost in gaining it. For even though I have tried and tried and tried and tried to imagine the coexistence of what we might call passionate love with that which we have called true love, it seems to me they cannot exist together in one human being. A person who chooses to give passionate love to another person, cannot also choose to give true love to all people. Passionate love overwhelms true love, it demands that people do that which they would not do if they loved all people.
The love you will find when you search your heart, mind, and soul, love every person can give every other person, may not bring with it the emotional high passion offers, yet it is an all consuming love which becomes part of a person’s very being. Though it may lack the emotional fever that accompanies passionate romance, the transformation that occurs when a human being chooses to love all people gives that person love which does not appear and disappear, brighten and fade. It is love that is with them and comforts them every moment of their lives. A love that does not focus its energy on one or two people, but rather a love that spreads out from a person and grows and strengthens as it radiates into the world. That love, whether it is called ideal or pure or true, or just called love, is more intense than any love I can imagine.
Indeed, while it is true that the love between two people who love all people is clearly different to the explosive passion of two lovers for whom the rest of the world does not exist, I believe it is in fact far more intense and beautiful and joyous. Only a man or a woman who gives real, pure, true love to all people can give real, pure, true love to each individual person. The person for whom love must be a passionate emotional experience shared by a few does not understand and cannot give to anyone the all consuming love which lies within them. They have locked fellow human beings out of their hearts, minds, and souls and thus have lost the love that, if it is given to anyone, must be given to all.
What about the millions upon millions of people who most would conclude do not “lust” for each other, but who look at each other as being physically attractive, and who may “flirt” with each other? When the vast majority of people look at each other, at least to some extent they see each other as more or less physically attractive, as having a more or less pleasant personality, as being more or less desirable to be with, etc. Far beyond the question of sexual attraction, most human beings will tell you that they get along better with people who exhibit “compatible” personality traits. Indeed, most people have a group of “friends” they enjoy being with. It seems that people like to be around people who make them “feel good”. Is there anything wrong with that?
If when you look at someone you are looking for something in them that makes you feel good, whether that may be “innocent” sexual attractiveness or delightful conversation or something else, you are not giving them the love that is in your heart, mind, and soul. If you love someone, when you look at them you do not have thoughts about their physical appearance. If you love someone, you do not think about what their personality is like. If you love someone, you do not think about whether or not you want to be around them and be their friend. If you love someone, you do not have thoughts about whether or not they make you “feel good”. If you love someone, when you look at them you have love for them in your heart, mind, and soul.
If you give someone true, pure, real, love, you will love them, and you will not think of them as someone you do or do not want to be around. You will love all people, including those who other people consider to be ugly or dull or stupid or inferior. When you look at them you will not see someone who is ugly or dull or stupid or inferior, or anything else, you will see someone you love. When you look at them you will not see someone who is sexually attractive or vivacious or funny or popular, you will see someone you love. If you give to everyone, the true, pure, real, love that is in your heart, mind, and soul, they will be more than your friends, they will be your family who you love.