Love is the most beautiful reality of this world. It pervades the world like God. It is most difficult to “define” love but the easiest to “know”. All of us know what love is. Even an animal know what love is. Love is, therefore, the matter of realization and the knowledge of the love is knowledge of the universe. St. Kabir, the famous Sufi poet said,
Many people died Reading Scriptures,
Yet they failed to become wise,
One who understood the meaning of “Love”,
Is the Only man to be Wise.
Love is, therefore, not merely an emotion but also the most profound knowledge that a man can expect to know. Once we know love, nothing else is left unknown. Yet there is nothing mysterious or complex about love as even the most innocent person “knows” it without reading a single book.
The knowledge of love requires not only the application of mind but also the heart, the soul and the intuition.
The complexity of love is due to the fact that love has multiple dimensions. It is like a living being consisting of many body parts. These limbs are interconnected with each other in such a way that they complement each other. They all are important and integral part of the being as a person becomes lame even if one part of the body goes missing.
THE SEVEN DIMENSIONS
Love is manifested in seven different forms. It is like a white beam of light which hides in it the spectrum of seven colors. If even color is one is missing, love is incomplete. These seven dimensions are described as following.
1. Love is Sensual
The most primary dimension of love is the body which leads to the satisfaction of senses. You can not love someone who can not be seen or imagined. Sensual love is so important in love that often people use the word “love” interchangeably with “lust” which seeks sexual gratification. Though, lust has been believed by many as the lowest manifestation of love, yet the sensuality has been a necessary ingredient in love. For example, Sufis developed their love for God by the means of sensuality. They imagined God as male (or female) and themselves as their beloved. The root of Idolatry too lies in the need of the man to develop an emotional and sensual attachment with God. The religions that ignored the physical dimensions of love, often made their followers heartless and ruthless. The people who ignored the physical dimension of love often fail to find love at all in their life.
2. Love is Compassion
Aristotle said “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” It is perhaps the simplest definition of love. When a person loves another person, he shares the pains and happiness of the person as if they share the same soul. This is called compassion which is defined as “a deep awareness of and sympathy for another’s suffering”. A mother who loves he child can not bear the pain of her child and even give her own life, if that is helpful in reducing the pain of her child. Often people feel possessive about their love as they want to avoid any pain to their loved one.
3. Love is Care
Love is not merely an emotion that joins the people. When you love a person, you do everything to make the your beloved happy as in her happiness lies your happiness. The distinction of bodies disappear for the people in love. Love without action has no meaning as illustrated in this beautiful poem “Which Loved Best?” by Joy Allison.
“I love you. Mother,” said little John;
Then, forgetting his work, his cap went on,
And he was off to the garden swing,
And left her the water and wood to bring.
“I love you Mother,” said Rosy Nell-
“I love you better than tongues can tell”;
Then she teased and pouted full half the day,
Till her mother rejoiced when she went to play.
“I love you Mother,” said little Fan;
“Today I’ll help you all I can;
How glad I am that school doesn’t keep!”
So she rocked the babe till it fell asleep.
Then, stepping softly, she fetched the broom,
And swept the floor and tidied the room;
Busy and happy all day was she,
Helpful and happy as child could be.
“I love you Mother,” again they said,
Three little children going to bed;
How do you think that mother guessed?
Which one of them really loved her best?
If love does not lead to positive action of caring, it can’t be love. It is for this reason that all religion asked the followers to do charitable work for the benefit of the poor as only by positive action God can be pleased and love to God is manifested.
4. Love is Sharing
Love is not merely the sharing of the soul but also the sharing of the worldly things. A family is a typical unit of love where everyone shares everything with others. They share the house, their belongings, their furniture and everything that is there in the house. Everything belongs to everyone in the family. The distinction of mine versus them disappears for the people in love. If you are not willing to share your most valuable thing to your beloved, you surely do not love that person. A man who loves God always considers everything belonging to God. Hence he would have no attachment with any of the material goods. He, therefore, have no hesitation in giving his goods to others. One who accumulates wealth or remain attached with the wealth can not love. Similarly, one who does not wish to share his wealth with the people whom he loves does not love in reality.
5. Love is Trust
Trust is the most important in love. How can you distrust a person who shares your own soul? When trust is missing, love can not endure. When you love, you put your complete trust of faith in your believed. Without trust love is not possible as trust is the test of love. It is easy to say that you love someone or to say that you are like two bodies and one soul. Yet it is not easy to pose complete trust in your beloved. When a man loves God, he poses full trust in God which is called faith. When you love your child, you trust him completely. The importance of trust in love is said beautifully in the poem “Trust” by Malcolm Coleman
Fragile as a lily,
it cements relationships.
Without it there can be no meaning
to the words, “I Love You”,
without it all things fail,
and happiness is eroded.
As the trees in autumn
lose their leaves,
so I lose life
if trusted I am not.
I must be trusted,
for trust builds hope, and love.
Trust brings to all things
a wholeness that is sublime,
and which cannot be explained.
My complete soul screams with fear
if I am not believed.
If I am not trusted,
what can I do?
6. Love is Reverence
The material world has created hierarchies as every material thing has a beginning and an end and everything is measurable. Hence everything is bigger or smaller than other in some measurable criterion. However, soul is eternal and has no beginning or end. We often respect the people who or older or more knowledgeable than us in the world. Yet all men are spiritually same as everyone has the same soul. Yet each soul is manifested in this world as a different being. Since everyone has been designed for a difference purpose, hence everyone is superior to others in some respect. A young child is superior to adult in many ways. Jesus taught,
“Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
Thus when you love a person, you also respect him or her for what he or she is. In India when two people meet, they greet each other by calling folding their hand and calling the word “Namaste”. The word Namaste consists of two Sanskrit words – namah + te – meaning ” I bow to that (divinity or soul) inherent in you.”
If you love your child, you respect him as a person for what he is as you see many good qualities in the child which must be respected. If you do not respect another person it simple means that you do not consider that person better than you in any respect. How can you love such a person who is inferior to you in every respect?
The reverence in the highest form takes the form of worship. People, who love God, therefore worship God as they consider God to be the highest form of the Soul who is Supreme in all respect.
7. Love is Friendship
When the souls of the lovers are one, how can their minds be different? The sharing of mind or thought is called friendship. Aristotle said,
“Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.”
Friendship is another important dimension of love. Just like one can rely on friends in the hour of need, same is true with love. Love is not sustainable without the meeting of mind. Even a religious person, who loves God, actually develops a sort of friendship with God. He can communicate with God and understand His thoughts. A man in love with his beloved knows her thoughts effortlessly. If you love your child, you are also his or her best friend. When you talk to a child, you automatically use his language, style and language to communicate. You play with him like a child. Friendship transforms you from an adult to a child. The children who love their parents are never awed by their greatness or meanness as they find them at the same level as themselves. Thus friendship is always present between people who love.
What is Love without All the Dimensions
Most people make mistake in their understanding of love. A man and woman may think that love is nothing but physical attraction. Yet such love does not sustain unless it is complete with its entire dimension. Therefore, the love based on mere physical attraction does not last long unless it is filled with compassion, respect, trust, caring, sharing and friendship. Love to God is no exception. God can not be found merely by praying or following the rituals. One has to also have compassion with God and develop friendship with Him by knowing His mind. A lover of God must care and share His creations by doing charities and doing good for other people in the world who are all children of God. Love is therefore, rightly described as the greatest knowledge of the world as it is the means as well as the end of everything that one want to learn, feel and know.