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Love Is Not Love

Updated: Feb 18, 2022

I thank Claire Hilton for editing my draft. It was one dimly lit room. Yellowish ambience I remember. I was hanging out with some Christian friends. I was doing my usual trolling, asking people for definitions, as they discussed matters of philosophy and theology. Somehow the conversation got to the point that I was asked to produce my definition of love. As someone not very clever, I tried to evade the question. I told them the truth that I did not know, but they were bent on extracting an answer out of me. "They got me this time", I thought. Generally, it is I who bothered others by asking for definitions. Once I realized they were not going to let me get away, I conceded. After minutes of quiet consideration, I served, "not love. Love is not love." "What?" they interjected. "Love is a state in which you don't love", I returned. This was early 2019. Years before, I was unable to say that I cared about them when asked. How could I? I had no control over their lives to make any discernible difference. Some called me a hypocrite for they had seen me do things that they considered loving. But I never did those things purposefully. There was no "I" doing the loving. I eventually became literate enough to say, "love and care happen to me and through me, if they do, rather than by me", just like hunger happens to me. None of it was my choice. My hunger is a response to object(s) other than my will. If love was not my will, it couldn't be "I" doing the loving. By early 2018, I understood that no "I" can ever love for love does not have a subject. It doesn't originate from a subject. It already exists, if it does. "I" can only withdraw "my" participation. Consider the curvature of space that explains gravitational attraction. Gravity does not originate from a body to reach another body. The curvature created by both bodies causes them to fall into each other or, must I say, fall for each other. They can spend energy to stop falling, but their default state is to fall. Neither body can claim gravity to be its doing. Perhaps, that is the objective nature of love. You can't love either, for love is not an action. Though it classifies as an action verb, it should classify as a state of being verb. Unlike action verbs such as go and eat, you can't do the verb "love". You can tell if someone ate pizza or went to Pizza Hut, but it is impossible to tell that someone loves Pizza or loves Pizza Hut. This shows that love is neither quantifiable nor objectively verifiable. How then can someone act it? If he did it, how would we know that he did it? Instead, love seems to be a recognition of a state of being, similar to saying "I am (state of action verb) fat". You are either in the state or not. So long you are trying to be in it, you imply that you aren't. Only when you stop loving do you allow yourself to fall asleep. When you are asleep, you don't know it because you are already asleep. Only when you wake up do you find out that you were asleep. Thus, love precedes its recognition. People who try to love want to reverse that order. They try to make the tail wag the dog, as Alan Watts once said. The love that people do out of their will is man-made. It looks like love but lacks truth, and hence, is fake. The confusion results probably from the subject-verb-object structure of our languages. It frames the human mind to think that subject, verb, and object are three discrete entities as if there were a boundary where the subject ends, the verb starts, and another, where the verb penetrates the object. In a language unbound by structures like the language of animals or of music, the universe probably is a continuum into which all entities dissolve. That must be selfless love, devoid of a self (a doer) doing the loving. The moment intention, the source of which is the self, enters the formula, we get selfish love-- Person A-loves-Person B. And we complicate things.

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