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Love hatred and attention need

Expectation is the first enemy of love.


  As long as love is conditional, hatred and love are opposite sides of the same coin. Love can flip into hatred the moment we feel that our expectations are threatened. In love of this type, it remains love only as long as the conditions remain as expected. The moment the conditions change, the love also changes.

Often what we believe as love is actually related to time and space. So long as the distance between the lovers is large and the time of contact is minimal, they feel love towards each other. However, once they get closer and spend more time together, they feel that they are not so much in love after all! That is why they say ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. Familiarity can also convert love into hatred. To transcend both love and hatred, we first need to drop expectations. Expectation is the first enemy of love.

The attention-need, along with our dependency on others for survival, is what we experience as love.

We all go through several stages of relationships in our lifetime. If you observe very closely, whichever stage we are in, when we ask for love we are actually asking only for the other person’s attention. When we say a person doesn’t love us, we actually mean that the other person doesn’t give us enough attention. The basic need for any human being is attention from others. The attention-need, along with our dependency on others for survival, is what we experience as love.

The dependency on others might be psychological, physical or spiritual. For example, when you expect someone to lend you a shoulder to cry on, you are dependent upon him or her psychologically. When you expect someone to provide you with money or fulfill your bodily pleasures, you are dependent upon him or her physically. In whatever way people may fulfill this dependency, what it boils down to is the attention that they give us! The whole idea of love is nothing but getting the attention of the other in some way.

In the first session of our meditation camp, I ask people to make an honest list of at least one or two persons in their lives who they really love. Usually in the beginning, people come up with a big list: husband, wife, father, mother, brother, sister and so on. They include people whom they would like to please or need to please in order to be happy themselves. As they hear me talk about real love, they start crossing out names from their list one by one! Understand, if you cross out something, then it was not truly there in the first place.

Many people include certain people in their love list because these people give them a ‘feel good’ feeling. What do I mean by a ‘feel good’ feeling? It is a certificate saying, ‘You are good. You are this, you are that’ etc. We love anyone who pays us compliments, is it not? We think twice before arguing with them. We secretly nurture our good name with them in the name of love. If they go back on their approval of us, we might fall into depression, so we continue to please them and love them. Like this, there is always some hidden reason for our love.

Some people tell me, ‘No Swamiji, I don’t love my son or daughter for any of these reasons.’ I ask them, ‘Alright, if your son suddenly starts to make his own decisions, if he suddenly doesn’t fit into your framework, if he doesn’t follow your guidance, if he doesn’t live according to your rules, will your love for him be the same?’

They tell me, ‘No, it will not. My love will be reduced a little!’

We love our next generation as long as they are extensions of our life.

What does this mean? We love our next generation as long as they are extensions of our life. As long as they fall into our pattern of thinking, as long as they live in accordance with our conventions, we love them. We simply fulfill our own desires through them. We fulfill our lives through them. Whatever we couldn’t accomplish in our youth, we try to accomplish through them. We use them as an extension of our own lives. If we wanted to be doctors and couldn’t for some reason, we inspire them to be doctors. As long as they act and live as an extension of our life, the relationship is beautiful. But the moment they start deciding on their own, the moment they feel we are suffocating them, the moment they stand up and say ‘no’, the relationship takes a different turn.

A small story:

There were three grownups having their morning tea together. Their children were playing on the floor. They were discussing what they would do if danger threatened, and all of them declared that the first thing they would do was pick up their children and escape.

Suddenly, the safety valve of the pressure cooker burst, creating a steam explosion in the room. Within seconds, everyone was out of the kitchen – except for the children playing on the floor!

Our love is not as great as we claim it to be! Even we don’t know the real depth of our love, that’s the problem. We say and do a lot of things in the name of love. But reality can be shockingly different from all that. If we integrate the love emotion in us, it can become a highly sincere and authentic expression of our original nature.

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