by David Truman

Click here for a Quick Key (abbreviated version) of this article.

The Love is for them

What is love? The simplest, truest definition is this: Love is the honest attempt to make others happy. It's being sincerely, happily, unselfishly oriented to their needs, their welfare, their furtherance, their happiness. Love is not about doing things that work to our own personal advantage. Love is something that we do for the benefit of others, and not -- specifically not -- for our own benefit.

Love is stringless giving -- giving with no strings attached.

Of course, love does have positive effects on the lover. Rewards, one could say. We feel happiest when we're loving; we feel more ourselves; we feel closer to God. But paradoxically, if we love in order to gain any of the personal benefits of loving, either now or later, then we won't get those benefits. Why not? Because in that case, we're not loving; we're simply pursuing self-interests. And therefore, none of the benefits of loving will accrue to us personally. Those benefits accrue only to someone who is actually loving -- meaning, loving without regard for the personal rewards or consequences.

Self-interest and love don't mix

Love begins where small, ego-driven self-interest ends. And love ends when self-interest takes over. This is not merely a philosophical statement; this is what happens every day in relationships.

Consider this: what if you're in a relationship for what you get out of it, and then one day, love requires a sacrifice of you? It calls you to do something that you think will cause you some kind of inconvenience, loss, or disadvantage -- maybe even get you in trouble, or create a problem for you. In that case, what will you do? To the extent that self-benefit is your motivation in the relationship, you'll automatically not make the sacrifice. Here's one such situation:

A woman is out on a date in a restaurant, and some crude, drunken guy starts to hassle her while her boyfriend's gone to the bathroom for a minute. This is one of the more horrifying moments of her life. But her boyfriend, seeing this event occurring on his way back from the bathroom, stops and sits down in an empty table on the other side of the room to wait the situation out. He knows that if he tried to defend her, he'd be in for some sort of trouble. So he decides to watch her suffer from a distance, until the danger TO HIM had past.

Isn't it obvious, now, that you can't follow the premise of self-interest very far without betraying people? That's why I say, a lover doesn't live/work for self-interest. A lover lives/works in the interest of others -- consistently so -- and lets self-interest pan out as it may.

When it comes to the moment-by-moment decisions that a lover has to make, a man couldn't possibly be a lover if he were operating on the basis of self-interest. In that case, he would simply be a selfish person making selfish decisions for selfish reasons. Love is about doing for the benefit of others. To be a lover, and remain a lover, you must cling to that principle -- for better or for worse.

Sacrifice is the name of this game

As a lover, you come to find that sooner or later -- probably sooner -- every course of action that's really loving will seem to conflict with personal self-interest in some way. If that's unacceptable to us, we'll drop out of the game. And that's exactly why not many people get far with love.

Love is a game anyone can play, but few stick with it. Imagine this scenario: You see what looks like a beautiful game being played, and you cry out from the sidelines, "I want to play, I want to play, I want to play!" The reply comes, "Fine, you can play." So you say, "Okay, how do I start?" "Take this rock and drop it on your head." You answer, "Oh! No thanks! I've changed my mind."

It's funny until you realize that, when it comes to love, it's the exact same story, and the exact same answer is given: "What are you, crazy? Do you think I'm stupid? I don't want to play that game. Is there another game where I come out ahead?" Sure. Maybe real estate will work for you. Or used car sales.

There's one born every minute who's smart enough to figure out that love is not what they want to do, because a lover is a living sacrifice or else they're not truly a lover. But those who can look at the truth of love in the eye and live accordingly can play the game elegantly, experience the problems that come along, and love anyway.

The story of Mahuchna

Here's a traditional story from India about the nature of a true lover. One day there was a royal parade through town. Mahuchna, the village fool, saw the princess in the procession and fell in love at first sight. He became so intoxicated with his love for her that he did nothing but sing her praises all the time.

Eventually the king was told about it: "There's somebody out there who won't quit singing your daughter's praises; he doesn't want anything else, and he doesn't think about anything else." Deeply touched, the king declared, "I hereby issue a royal decree: All merchants must give this fellow whatever he wants. I'll pay the bill. I want to keep him alive."

When they heard the news, a few unscrupulous young men started to imitate Mahuchna. Singing the princess' praises, they would go to the merchants and ask for things -- food, clothing, supplies -- and they got what they asked for. But soon, it got back to the king that there were twenty, thirty, now forty men, all claiming to be the Mahuchna -- all singing about the princess, and all subsidized according to the king's decree.

When the number of Mahuchnas reached a hundred, the king finally said, "This won't work. Send out a crier, make a national decree: Anybody singing my daughter's praises after dawn tomorrow will be beheaded." The next day, at the crack of dawn, there was only one voice singing her praises: Mahuchna. That's the only lover there is -- the one who doesn't care what the personal cost is.

The never-ending considerations of lovers

A lover can't afford to count the costs. Real lovers are primarily interested in questions like these:

Is this going to benefit the beloved?

In what other ways could I use my mechanism -- emotions, body, mind -- to benefit them?

What could I do, should I do, that would benefit them MOST?

Such are the questions you, as a lover, will be asking constantly. And surely the Still Small Voice has answers for you, anytime.

When you think deeply about the benefit of others, and consider what would truly further their spiritual welfare, you quickly realize that some of those things are going to make you unpopular even with them. Clearly, not everything that you do for the spiritual benefit of an ego-identified individual will be well-received! You might get more resentment than gratitude -- at least in the short run. A lover must be willing to proceed on that basis: to do the things that are not collusive, that may even get you in trouble with those you are serving, and take the hits. If you're still willing to do that, for their sake, then you are indeed loving.

I'm not trying to paint an overly gloomy picture about loving. Most of it is sweet, wonderful, juicy. But there are things required by love that would separate the men from the boys, the women from the girls -- quickly. And those things are important, even though they're not the whole thing.

While you're considering how to benefit others, think, too, about corner-cutting: When you don't do something that would be loving, or something that would serve the interests of the beloved, ask yourself, "Why didn't I do it?" Not the handy excuse, but really why. And then, if you find that the reason was self-interest, self-protection, you can change what you're doing. After all, love really isn't about you -- it's about them. And you do want to be a loving person, of course.

To love as the enlightened ones love

But listen: It's not a problem that self-protective impulses may arise. You may sometimes feel afraid; you may sometimes resist. Those things are practically inevitable. But how do you handle your fear, your resistance -- that's what counts.

They say nobody ever climbed Mt. Everest without fear. No person on earth ever lived a fearless existence. But plenty of people who live on earth, and experience various naturally-arising fears and resistances, truly love anyway.

Surely, what goes to your credit is not that you did something that was easy for you. On the contrary: what goes to your credit is that you did something even though it was difficult for you. The fact that it's hard adds value to your efforts, and quality to your love.

People like to think that for a great lover, or an enlightened person, loving is easy: "It comes so easy for you to love; it's probably in your DNA." But if they're just doing what comes easily, where is the sacrifice in that? And how much credit can they get for loving?

Friends, if you look at the true lovers honestly, as human beings, you'll begin to understand that they are just like you, with challenges like yours. So you see . . . despite fears like yours, inhibitions like yours, and concerns like yours -- they are living a loving life. In order to do what you see them doing, they are transcending the kinds of limitations you face. They're not doing it easily -- they're doing it deliberately. Or at the very least, they're doing it even though they have to endure the discomfort that any human being would endure to do what they were doing. They are doing it anyhow.

The pearl of great price

It's said human beings only use a small percent of their potential. That's true, you know. And it's especially true in the spiritual realm. Everyone is capable of spiritual greatness. We can all transcend what we think we are, to become what we truly are! We can all transcend what we believe limits us, and go beyond what we feel we're capable of! And guess what? -- the minute we cross over that line, heavenly benediction arrives, right on schedule: peace, security, cosmic rightness, and . . . the kind of deep satisfaction that comes when you know you did the right thing even though it cost you something.

You are a natural born lover, by God. You love, and take what comes. And you'd be out there doing the same damn thing at a cut in pay. You would do it even though you had to pay them to help them, and they hated you for it. You won't stop unless it stops helping. So simple real love is. So pure. So perfectly focused on its true objective.

Besides, as you know, real love is its own reward. Because love is the release from the lie of separation, and the life of separation, it is truly heaven. Love is, essentially, the ability of the heart, or the true Self, to identify with other human beings as if "other" people were oneself -- which is, in fact, true. Love is the discovery of that truth, the surrender to it, the expression of it. Love is discovering Oneself.

Love is truly the Pearl of Great Price, as well it should be. Have you ever felt that a declaration of love deserves to be tested? Have you even thought it should be able to pass the test? If so, then remember that when you encounter adversity in loving. Ask yourself: "Am I willing to take the test and pass it? Am I staying the course, or is the price too high? Will I keep the Pearl, or drop the most precious thing in the universe for the sake of thrift?"

Yes or no? Still voting on the side of love? Still on?

Of this you can be sure: Many people depend on your answer. People whose lives would be changed by the sacrifices you have the opportunity to make. People's lives will be impacted by the way you handle every challenge that confronts you in love. The lover knows that, and rejoices.

And finally, you depend on your answer. Because only a yes answer will allow you to be who you are -- a lover!

article list   •   contact us   •   e-mail to a friend   •   subscribe


printable version   •   close   •   e-mail to a friend