With Tina Turner singing in my head, “What’s love got to do with it”, I decided to attempt to dissect love and what it truly is in a factual sense.
Initially, I know that most people would say that love is a pure emotion. But show me emotion. What does emotion look like?
Emotions are thoughts that arise in our mind cause by the firing of neurotransmitter. They are chemical and electrical signals firing at incredible speed across our brain. There is no emotion that can be held in your hand or put in a box, they are all simply signals that we interpret in different ways. Those same signals can signal love of something for me, but also signal repulsion to you.
So would this mean that there is no such thing as love, and it is only a delusion based on our interpretation of signals in our brain?
I know there are scientists out there who would probably agree with that statement, but I do not. I believe there is a source of love that is beyond scientific basis, and yet does not involve a supernatural power or being.
Genuine love, not just the word or the concept, is a force I see as universal in all of nature. It is as powerful as any wind or rain, as open and free as the wind, and as limitless as the stars in the sky. And if we were to try to put all of these things into a single word, would it not fall hugely short of explaining the true meaning? This too I see is the reality of love. Not that it does not exist, and not that it is purely a chemical reaction, but something far greater in scope and breadth than a singular would could ever encapsulate.
Unfortunately, our society has overused this word to the point where often it holds little significance. Saying things like “I love my car” or “I love this song”, turn the word love into a cute expression rather than one of supreme impact. Love, in fact, can truly move mountains. It can bring peace where the once was war, it can bring a feast to where once there was famine, it can bring water to where there only was drought.
And you may say that these are the acts of man and machine, but the force that drove them was the true essence of love.
In the Buddhist teachings, the word “metta” is usually translated as loving-kindness. But this is a greatly over-simplified definition of a much deeper lesson. Metta is to become clear to the wholesome and compassionate self that is within you. To be kind and accepting of the self, and grateful for this life. It means to cultivate this love and compassion so you may share it with others in equanimity. It is to respect all living things both near and far, large and small. It is to understand the generations of love and wholesome actions that brought you to this moment in this life. And even in these words, I fall short of completely conveying the depth of the word metta. I know this, and I am humbled by the taste of reality that I am but a student to this life. I am your student, and so grateful for the lessons you offer me each and every day.
For without your smiles and tears, laughter and anger, wholesome and unwholesome actions, skillful and unskillful acts, I would know nothing of this teaching. This is the dhamma. Each moment, each breath, each interaction is another moment I am allowed to practice.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.