Love is not love.
Perhaps one of the most poignant sufferings in society is the failure of human relationships. Recent government statistics reveal that some fifty percent of marriages are ending in divorce. Every day four thousand children call the charity Childline for help. All around us we can all see so many examples of strained and collapsed relationships, possibly even in our own lives. We so much want to enjoy our relationships, but so often they become instead the cause of our greatest pain.
What is the solution? Is it just an inevitable sign of the times; times when selfishness and materialism seem to be more and more vaunted in the media? We all have different interests, so in any relationship where both parties are self-interested there will surely be a clash sooner or later.
The desire for relationship is intrinsic to our nature. The Vedas explain that every living being has an eternal relationship with God. When we forget that we search elsewhere to satisfy our need to relate. But our love is really meant for God. We cannot be satisfied if we offer our love to someone else. Only the Lord, sitting in our hearts, knows how to fully reciprocate our love. How often in any relationship do we feel that the other person simply does not understand us?
Offering our love to God does not mean we cannot love other people. Indeed it means the very opposite. With God at the centre of our relationships they can become truly successful. And according to Vedic wisdom if we do not relate in this way then our so-called love for each other is really not love at all. It is simply mutual exploitation to fulfil selfish needs.
Take a conjugal relationship, for example. It may seem selfless, especially in the beginning when are very accommodating of our partner’s desires, but what is its basis? Why do we form such relationships in the first place? Simple, because we like each other. In some way or another our partner pleases us. But when that happy situation ends, the relationship will very likely go the same way. The very selfishness that brought us together will break us apart.
The same can be said of all relationships, if we examine them carefully. Even parent and child, perhaps the most selfless of all, has selfishness at its root. It begins with a desire to enjoy the pleasure of having children, but when child and parent disagree there is separation and heartbreak.
We may say no, this is not true, that I would sacrifice everything for my loved ones. Maybe, but what about someone else’s loved ones? Would I do the same for them? Probably not, because after all they are not mine. So really it is mine and thus ultimately me that matters most.
By placing God first in a relationship it will work. Then it is truly devoid of selfish exploitation. By loving God we develop love for all beings, as we are all part of the Lord. Love of God is the only pure and selfless emotion, and if we can centre our human relationships on this spiritual emotion they will become sublime and deeply rewarding.
As only God can ultimately satisfy us, by always trying to bring our loved ones closer to the Lord we show them the greatest love. By pleasing him in this way we will become pleased. But if we try to please ourselves or others separate from God we will only become frustrated. No amount of selfish sensual pleasure ever satisfies the soul.
The family that prays together stays together. By coming together for daily spiritual practises and helping each other on our spiritual paths we will grow closer and closer. As our love for the Lord increases so will our love for each other. Instead of competing together for our own self-interests we put the Lord’s interests at the centre. In this way we co-operate without conflict. With a common centre we can draw so many circles and they will not cut across each other. But with different centres even two circles will conflict.
So let’s find the love we are really looking for by loving the Lord together. Then so many social problems will be solved.