Understanding and love are not two things, but just one …… When you understand, you cannot help but love. You cannot get angry. To develop understanding, you have to practice looking at all living beings with the eyes of compassion. When you understand, you love. And when you love, you naturally act in a way that can relieve the suffering of people.
Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace, 14-15
Understanding is the perfect definition of love, deep, lasting, core love. But who understands this truth?
We would believe that love has so many other guises: attraction (sexuality), dominance and submission, escape from loneliness (oneself), habits of living together. Even satisfaction of one’s vanity. But when confronted with a question: “Did you ever love me?” Might the answer be: “Yes I loved, but no, it was not really love, something else.” We might feel more free to answer this question honestly: “Did you ever know me?”
We are under pressure to love. To find someone to love. To find objects for love. To exhibit love as a duty. But where is our capacity to love? We can’t learn to love the same way we acquire a new habit, the way trained fingers float across the keys of a piano without thinking. We can’t expect love to happen to us, to appear or turn on with the flip of some switch. Two people kiss, hold hands, sleep together, have passionate sex, have picnics, go on a cruise. Do they love?
Would you answer, “of course!”?
Can we love one, and hate the other? Or, as is often the case, love one, and hate ourselves? To have the semblance of love, its trappings, and really believe that you love, when in reality you cannot even love yourself, is tragic. The trappings of love do nothing to dispel the loneliness that lurks ever on our borders, waiting in ambush for the first moment we are not too lost in something to notice.
Who can find a peer in love? Who can find that crystal pool of understanding, reflecting the reality of the self? No word is wasted, no expression whatsoever is lost to time.
The search is a journey, with many tempting garden paths. Before I step out the door, to seek with-out, I may already have lost my way.