Valentine’s Day – The Meaning of True Love

True love cannot be bought, bribed, begged, manipulated or forced.It can only blossom from deep within the heart.

This is the time of year when, all over the Western world, people celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s not a tradition celebrated in India, but nonetheless it is a wonderful opportunity to discuss love, as the entire holiday is dedicated to this beautiful, divine emotion.

Love is simultaneously the purest and one of the most complex emotions we find. True love, at is purest, is just that – pure, true and love. It is unpolluted, untainted, unencumbered by desires, expectations, needs or wants. Love is content just to love. As Khalil Gibran says, “Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.” Love needs no reciprocity. Love needs no appreciation. Love loves for the very sake of loving. Loving is its own reward.

It is, of course, essential to clarify, that I am NOT talking about lust or passion, which are completely unrelated to love.

Love dissolves the very borders and boundaries of who you are, as you melt into its vast ocean. Love takes you from time to timelessness, from separation to divine union. Love is the sunshine which coaxes open the petals of the flower. Love is the water that causes the seed to sprout. Love causes those who love – whether they are people or flowers — to blossom and grow.

Unfortunately, too few people are able to really reap the benefits – physical, emotional and spiritual – of true love for they are incapable of either giving it or receiving it. Love is not glue which puts together that which is broken inside of you. Love is not a filler for the holes within you. Love is not a band-aid for your inner wounds. Love does not complete you, nor heal you, nor make you whole. In fact, true, pure love can ONLY be experienced between two people who are both already whole and complete. As long as you are looking to another – whether it’s a parent, a child, a friend, a spouse, a Guru or anyone – to fill that within you which is empty, to heal that within you which is hurt, to put back together that within you which is broken, you will never be able to experience true love.

Many people mistake need for love. “I need you” is very different from “I love you” yet too many people mistake the former for the latter. Love gives. Need takes. Love accepts. Need demands. Khalil Gibran says, “Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love.” When you find yourself criticizing your loved ones, finding fault in what they are or are not doing, when you complain and sulk, you are moving away from love. Not only does the love within your own heart become diminished but the beloved’s feelings toward you change. No one on Earth likes to be nagged or criticized. No one likes to hear the same complaints over and over. No one likes to see sulking, grumpy or cranky faces day in and day out.

We think, tragically, that we can change people, that we can make them love us more or better or differently (or at all, in the case of someone who doesn’t love us). Hence we manipulate, we cry, we complain, we sulk, we do all sorts of things which we think will turn the beloved in the direction we want, toward us. But it actually backfires. You may succeed in changing your beloved’s actions. Depending upon the relationship, many people may find it is a lot easier to just amend their behavior to suit their spouse, friend, parent, child or other person who loves them. Yet that is only behavior. The heart cannot be molded or stretched or pulled according to our wishes. In fact, the more you nag and complain to loved ones, the farther they move, internally, away from you. Again, to quote from Khalil Gibran, “And think not you can direct the course of love; love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.” Love is one of the greatest blessings and greatest mysteries on Earth.

On this Valentine’s Day, take a moment and examine whether you are truly loving, whether your love is full of acceptance, gratitude and giving, or whether your love is riddled with complaints, criticism, condemnation and comparisons. Take this opportunity not merely to eat chocolates or enjoy a candle-lit dinner but truly to find the source of pure, divine love within you – the love which asks nothing in return, the love which is content just to love.

With love and blessings to you all.
In the service of God and humanity,

Swami Chidanand Saraswati

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