Sadhguru, Isha Foundation
There is a lot of talk about ‘divine love’ everywhere. The assumption is that love is a quality that needs to be imported from Heaven.
People either profess to love God or believe God loves them. I am often told, very emphatically, by people, “God loves us.” I tell them, “The way you’re made, only God can love you. He has to love the mistakes he’s made!”
Every human being is capable of love, but has crippled himself with all kinds of stupid belief systems, opinions, philosophies, and ideologies — everything except life. If you are life, it is very natural to love. You don’t need any teaching. You don’t need any scripture. You don’t need any God looking down upon you.
We don’t know if there is love in Heaven, but we definitely know that human beings are capable of it. If you haven’t found a human being who loves you, I recommend a dog. Human beings can sometimes be fickle, but a dog is a 12-year guaranteed love affair!
We need to keep our love for this planet; here is where it’s needed. Two thousand years ago, when Jesus said, ‘Love thy neighbour’, he meant accepting whoever is beside you at this very moment, accepting them fully. Everyone can love God because He’s not even around! Besides, if God is an embodiment of love, why would He need your love? Leave God alone. Let Him do His job; you do yours. But people are communicating with Krishna, Rama, Jesus, without even being on talking terms with their neighbours!
What most people call love is just a mutual benefit scheme. You have your needs to fulfill, so you made an arrangement with somebody: ‘you give me this, I’ll give you that’. You have physical, emotional, psychological, social, economic needs, and so many others. To fulfill all these you have formed various relationships. But tomorrow if you withdraw from your part of the deal, the other person will do the same.
That’s the reason why relationships are always on the edge. This is simply because two people are trying to extract happiness, or life, from each other. As long as you are trying to fulfill your needs through somebody, this struggle will go on. There is no possibility of knowing love when there are needs to be fulfilled.
All your relationships have sprung from your needs. There’s nothing right or wrong about that. But don’t sanctify them or make them ugly by applying your morals to them. Let’s not gold-plate our limitations, and turn our shackles into ornaments. It’s all right to make arrangements, but let’s not deceive ourselves by believing this is love.
So, what is love? Love is a human emotion. It means that on an emotional plane, you are longing to become one with something. It is a natural desire. Whether you desire food or sex or love or God or heaven, it is a desire. The fundamental desire is to expand and include something else as a part of yourself. This longing to become one with something is happening on all levels. If it finds expression in a very basic physical way, we call this either hunger or sexuality. If the longing to become one finds mental expression, this is generally labeled greed or ambition. When it finds emotional expression, it gets labeled as love.
A certain part of the human being is emotion; this cannot be denied. A certain amount of your life energies are allotted to your emotion. You have to expend that. Otherwise it will sit in your belly like a stone.
Yoga means ‘to become one’. So, in a small way, when you seek love, you are attempting yoga, using the path of emotion. Most religions cranked this up to the next level and called it ‘devotion’. What you call devotion is essentially unreasonable emotion. Logically, it seems absurd. But for the person going through it, it’s a fantastic experience – just like a love affair.
Now, if your physical body becomes very pleasant, generally we call this health and pleasure. If your mind becomes very pleasant, we call this peace and joy. If your emotions become very pleasant, we call this love and compassion. If your life energies become very pleasant, we call this blissfulness and ecstasy. So what you are referring to as love is a certain moment of inner pleasantness.
You believe that somebody is the cause of the pleasantness within you. Somebody may be a trigger or stimulus or inspiration, but they can never be an end in themselves. They cannot take you to the goal because love is endless longing. It will never take you to the oneness you are seeking. You may believe at many moments that you are one with your beloved, but it isn’t so.
Love is possible only when there are no needs within you. If love is true, it will happen without an object. Whether it is a man or woman, ant or elephant or tree, is irrelevant; everything that you behold, you feel a certain pleasantness towards it. That is love. This is an intelligent way to exist. Once you know that pleasantness within you every moment of your life, you can fall in love with everything.
Most people seek love because they have still not reached the point where they are simply at ease by themselves — with life itself. Because they are unable to totally relax with the million manifestations of life around them, they seek it with at least one person. The idea of forming the unit of family and larger identities of community and nation is for the same reason: simply to create a space where you can lay your defense mechanisms down for a while.
Love is self-annihilation. It essentially means someone else has become far more important than yourself. That is why we talk of ‘falling’ in love. If not the whole of you, at least a part of you should collapse, should die. If this doesn’t happen, there is no love, only calculation. When there is no love, people are rigid. Suddenly when they fall in love, they’re willing to bend and twist themselves any which way; this can be a fantastic spiritual process because it means you are becoming flexible.
When we say Shiva is a destroyer, we are saying he is a compulsive lover. Any genuine love affair must destroy you; otherwise it’s not a love affair. When I say ‘destroy’, it doesn’t mean he destroys your home or your business. What you call ‘myself’ — your rigid personality — is destroyed in the process of loving. That is self-annihilation.
If you become aware of the life process as it’s happening now, you become totally at ease with everything around you. And you will see that every cell in this body is in constant communication with everything in existence. A single cell cannot exist for a moment without this communication. If this awareness becomes a living reality for you, we don’t have to teach you love or compassion. When you are aware that everything is a part of you, no teaching is necessary. Now you don’t need to build a bond with one person to reach this state of total ease. You simply do it with life itself.
Ranked amongst the fifty most influential people in India, Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, visionary and bestselling author. Sadhguru has been conferred the “Padma Vibhushan”, India’s highest annual civilian award, by the Government of India in 2017, for exceptional and distinguished service.