I Love You.. I'll Kill You.. ~ Enigma
Love is not a sentiment which can be easily indulged in by anyone, regardless of the level of maturity reached by him. All his attempts for love are bound to fail, unless he tries most actively to develop his total personality, so as to achieve a productive orientation; that satisfaction in individual love cannot be attained without the capacity to love one's neighbour, without true humility, courage, faith and discipline. In a culture in which these qualities are rare, the attainment of the capacity to love must remain a rare achievement. Or - anyone can ask himself how many TRULY loving persons he has known.
If two people who have been strangers, as all of us are, suddenly let the wall between them break down, and feel close, feel one, this moment of oneness is one of the most exhilarating, most exciting experiences in life.
It is all the more wonderful and miraculous for persons who have been shut off, isolated, without love. This miracle of sudden intimacy is often facilitated if it is combined with, or initiated by, sexual attraction and consummation. However, this type of love is by its very nature not lasting.
The two persons become well acquainted, their intimacy loses more and more of its miraculous character, until their antagonism, their disappointments, their mutual boredom kill whatever is left of the initial excitement. Yet, in the beginning they do not know all this: in fact, they take the intensity of the infatuation, this being "crazy" about each other, for proof of the intensity of their love, while it may only prove the degree of their preceding loneliness. There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love. If this were the case with any other activity, people would be eager to know the reasons for the failure, and to learn how one could do better - or they would give up the activity.
The first thing we have to learn is that love is an art, just as living is an art; if we want to learn how to love we must proceed in the same way we have to proceed if we want to learn any other art. Maybe herein lies the answer to the question of why people try so rarely to learn this art, in spite of their obvious failures: in spite of the deep-seated craving for love, almost everything else is considered to be more important than love: success, prestige, money, power - almost all our energy is used for learning of how to achieve these aims, and almost none to learn the art of loving.
Man is gifted with reason; he is life being aware of itself. This awareness of himself as a separate entity, the awareness of his own short life span, of the fact that he will die before those whom he loves, or they before him, the awareness of his aloneness and separateness, of his helplessness before the forces of nature and of society, all this makes his separate, disunited existence an unbearable prison. He would become insane could he not liberate himself from the prison and reach out, unite himself in some form or other with others, with the world outside.
The experience of separateness arouses anxiety; it is, indeed, the source of all anxiety. Being separate means being cut off, without any capacity to use my human powers. Beyond that, it arouses shame and the feeling of guilt. This experience of guilt and shame in separateness is expressed in the Biblical story of Adam and Eve who, by recognizing their separateness they remain strangers, because they have not yet learned to love each other; Adam defends himself by blaming Eve rather than trying to defend her.
The desire for interpersonal fusion is the most powerful striving in man. It is the most fundamental passion, it is the force which keeps the human race together. The failure to achieve it means insanity or destruction - self destruction or the destruction of others. Without love humanity could not exist.
Mature love is union under the condition of preserving one's integrity, one's individuality. Love is an active power in man, a power which breaks through the walls which separate man from his fellow men, which unites him with others; love makes him overcome the sense of isolation and separateness, yet permits him to be himself, to retain his integrity. In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two.
Spinoza arrives at the conclusion that virtue and power are one and the same. Envy, jealousy, ambition towards any kind of greed won’t fetch love. Love is an action, the practice of human power, which can be practised only in freedom and never as a result of a compulsion.
Love is primarily giving, not receiving. Giving is the highest expression of potency. Giving is more joyous than receiving, not because it is deprivation, but because in the act of giving lies the expression of my aliveness.
Whoever is capable of giving himself is rich. He experiences himself as one who can confer of himself to others. He gives of himself, of the most precious thing he has, he gives of his life. He gives what is live in him; he gives his joy, his interest, his understanding, his knowledge, his humour, his sadness, he gives of all the expressions and manifestations of that which is alive in him.
In thus giving of his life, he enriches the other person, he enchances the other’s sense of aliveness by enchancing his own sense of aliveness. In giving he cannot help bringing something to life in the other person, and this which is brought to life reflects back to him and they both share in the joy of what they have brought to life.
Love is a power which produces love. You can exchange love only for love, confidence for confidence and care for care. If you wish to enjoy an art, you must be an artistically trained person; if you wish to have an influence on other people you must be a person who has a really stimulating and furthering influence on other people.
In the Book of Jonah, God explains to Jonah that the essence of love is to labour for something and to make something grow, that love and labour are inseparable. One loves that for which one labours, and one labours for that which one loves.
Care and concern imply another aspect of love. Today responsibilty is often meant to denote duty, something imposed on one from the outside. But responsibility, in its TRUE sense, is an entirely voluntary act; it is my response to the needs of others. The loving person responds.
Responsibility could easily deteriorate into domination and possessiveness, were it not for a third component of love, respect. Respect is not fear or awe; it denotes the ability to see a person as he/she is, to be aware of the unique individuality. Respect means the concern that the other person should grow and unfold as they are. Respect, thus, implies the absense of exploitation. I want the loved person to grow and unfold for their own sake, and not for the purpose of serving me. If I love the other person, I feel one with him or her, but with them as they are, not as I need them to be as an object for my use. It is clear that respect is only possible if I have achieved independence, without having to exploit anyone else. Respect exists only on the basis of freedom, for love is the child of freedom, never that of domination.
To respect a person is not possible without knowing him; care and responsibility would be blind if they were not guided by knowledge.
Knowledge would be empty if it were not motivated by concern. There are many layers of knowledge; the knowledge which is an aspect of love is one which does not stay at the periphery, but penetrates to the core. It is possible only when I can transcend the concern for myself and see the other person in his own terms.
Care, responsibility, respect and knowledge are mutually interdependent. They are a syndrome of attitudes which are to be found in the mature person; that is the person who develops his own powers productively, who wants only to have that which he has worked for, who has given up narcissistic dreams of omniscience and omnipotence, who has aquired humility based on inner strength which only genuine productive activity can give.
If a person loves only one other person and is indifferent to the rest of his fellow men, his love is not love but a symbiotic attachment, or an enlarged egotism. Yet most people believe that love is constituted by the object, not by the faculty. In fact, they even believe that it is proof of the intensity of their love when they do not love anybody except the "loved" person. This is a fallacy. Because one does not see that love is an activity, a power of the soul, one believes that all that is necessary to find is the right object - and that everything goes by itself afterward. This attitude can be compared to that of the man who wants to paint but who, instead of learning the art, claims that he just has to wait for the right object - and that he will paint beautifully when he finds it. If I truly love one person I love all persons, I love the world, I love life. If I can say to somebody else, "I love you," I must be able to say, "I love in you everybody, I love through you the world, I love in you also myself."
The greatest impediment of mankind is not disease it is despair..
~ The Art of Loving : Erich Fromm