Are we in love?
I just recently watched the movie “Before Sunrise.” It is about an American man and French woman who meet on a train and decide to spend his last evening in Europe together. The couple is clearly compatible with each other, and while watching them, you start to think, “They ought to be exchanging numbers! They are so good together!” And the couple starts to think this way, too, wondering if they should make more of their time together, if it means something, if they are in love.
It is our tendency as humans, to label things, to start to define things. It’s what we do. Our brains label and categorize things faster than we can fall out of bed and call it bad luck. We do this initially out of a need for survival—poisonous plant/not poisonous plant—but then it spills over into other areas of our lives and we end up with prejudice, discrimination, and warfare. Warfare that started just because we see things differently than another person.
Anyway, back to love. We do this with love, too. We meet someone and find some compatibility, and then begin to wonder, “Is he interested in me? Does he like my jokes? I wonder what her family is like?” All this matter takes us away from the moment of or the experience of love. In “Before Sunrise,” most of the time they spend together is simply enjoying each other and the city of Vienna. They are in the moment, not talking about making plans, not really thinking about the future, just enjoying the now. They are not putting any form to their experience, but are instead allowing it to unfold, as it is, sweet, natural, fun, and loving.
I believe that underneath all the structures to love that our cultures have built, such as courtship, marriage, and divorce, there exists the purest of loves, untouched and unencumbered by our over-thinking minds. Love is not marriage, it is just love. Love is not sex—love is love. Love is not promising things or saying the right words or sharing a bank account. Love is an unconditional regard for another being, just because they are, just because they exist. This love cannot be parceled out or taken away. You don’t have to earn it. It cannot be labeled or categorized. Love cannot be molded into form with ideas, words, and expectations. Love is love.
Ram Dass has a wonderful book about love called, “Be Love Now.” It is like a bible for me. On the very first page he talks about the experience of feeling love. He says that when you experience a formless, unconditional love, you start to recognize that this love is already within you, that it is a part of you. And realizing that love is within your being opens you up for understanding what it means to be in love: “If I go into the place in myself that is love and you go into the place in yourself that is love, we are together in love.”