Most relationships are based on fulfillment of needs – physical, emotional, or even financial. People are most likely to love or hate what we have rather than who we are. Is receiving or giving unconditional love possible in such a world? The post below highlights the human capacity to love through short stories.
Once upon a time, soaring high in the blue sky, gliding on its wide wings, hundreds of feet above a pristine lake, a young eagle was scanning for food. It spotted a fish swimming in the crystal clear water. Without a moment’s delay, it dived and preyed on the fish, grabbing him with its sharp claws. It thought of flying to a high ground so it could sit and dine on its catch in peace.
Barely had it taken off though when a number of eagles, a whole convocation, started chasing it. They were bigger in size and more experienced in hunting. The young one tried hard to hold onto the fish, it haplessly flapped its wings to fly far away, but the other eagles continued their brutal attack. Driven by their own hunger, they were willing to kill the young eagle. It got badly wounded, some of its feathers got dislodged from its body and it was bleeding at many places. In between this snitching and snatching, tired of fighting against other birds, it lost hold of its game.
With great speed, the fish fell towards the ground. All the other birds left the young one alone and went straight for the fish instead. To the surprise of this eagle, no one was after its life anymore; they were not hurting him any longer. It flew to a nearby tree. Sitting on a branch, examining the wounds, a realization dawned on him:
“I thought they hated me, and that’s why they were attacking me. I really believed they hurt me because they didn’t like me. The truth is they had nothing to do with me. It was not about me. It was simply about the fish. It was all about what I had and not what I was.”
People do not love you or hate you. It is not actually about you. It is not “who” they love, it is “what” they love, it is not “who” they want, it is “what” they want. They are not after you, they are after what you have in you.
When you are no longer able to offer what they want or when they no more want what you have, their love starts to fade away. This is why people can grow out of relationships. So many times, readers write to me that their partner is good, that they want to stay in the relationship, but they are just not motivated. Well, it means the priorities have changed. Sad but true.
Nature has evolved based on needs. Sustenance of relationships is often dependent on what people have for each other. Species have survived because they took care of themselves. It is ingrained. Believe it or not, if you want someone to love you constantly, you have to keep offering what they want. You have to keep modifying according to their needs. I am not just talking about care, kinship, and bond, I am talking about love. Especially if their love is dependent on the fulfillment of their own desires or needs, they will continue to love you as long as you have the capacity to fulfill them.
When you offer them what they do not want, they become disinterested in you. Imagine sitting on a pile of gold and offering it to a monkey, envision offering bundles of grass to lions, they are not interested. When they become uninterested in what you have, they grow out, and they move on. Their interests vary based on their priorities. Imagine offering food to someone who just had a full meal, not interested.
Does selfless, unconditional love exist? Yes.
It is a rarity, though. Selfless care is more common. When you want someone to love you the way you love them, you are asking for a little too much. Because, for them to love you back the same way, they would have to be exactly like you, they would need to want what you want, they would need to lose their own identity. When you want someone to love you the way you love them is also not unconditional love. Because you still have a condition.
The young and rich widow says to Mulla, “Will you always love me this much?”
“The sun may rise from the west,” said he, “but my love for you can’t go down even by an ounce.”
“Well, my in-laws have filed a suit against me, and I’m likely to lose all my wealth.”
“That doesn’t bother me,” Mulla said confidently, “I may never see you again, but I’ll never stop loving you.”
Words are easy. The fact is most worldly relationships are held together by a degree of self-interest. Such self-interest is not always material. It may be in the form of intangible things like emotional and moral support etc. I am merely stating a fact without tagging it good or bad, right or wrong.
When someone hates you, just know that they only hate what they do not understand about you. Be it another person, a religion, a philosophy, an ideology; you can only ever hate what you do not understand. As soon as you understand something, you develop either love or compassion towards it. Sometimes, unconditional love too. Why does a child hate green vegetables? The same child, when grown up, happily drinks wheatgrass juice, willingly munches on distasteful raw greens. Why? Interest, need, understanding? Need I say more?
So, you have two choices, one, either be yourself, ever doing the right karma, be happy with varying degrees of love you get, or, two, keep adapting, adopting and asking for more. The first one is synonymous to turning inward, and the second one is insatiable, a bottomless pit, an endless pursuit.
You can give unconditional love to yourself and others.
Art of Meditation
Free yourself from suffering and live life to the fullest. Learn the yogic technique of meditation in 4 days (and master it over a lifetime)
Unconditional love – that most wily of emotions, the most common of pursuits. While attaining it is a rarity, it is something that can be attempted to be understood as a first step. The questions below help you with just that:
Is unconditional love healthy?
If you wish to have a healthy relationship, sooner or later you have to stand up for yourself. True love naturally has a degree of detachment otherwise it becomes too clingy and uncomfortable. Unhealthy relationships are prisoners of obsession and attachment. Healthy relationships on the other hand are fueled by friendship and freedom. Obsessive care undermines love and doesn’t help anyone. Read more here.
What is an example of unconditional love?
Recently, I read the touching story of a woman in Life’s Amazing Secrets by Gaur Gopal Das. Lata Khare, a poor 65-year-old woman, chose to run a marathon overnight to raise money for her husband’s treatment.
She wasn’t running for a trophy or fame, she was running for life, literally. If anything, it wasn’t she but her love for her husband that ran on that paved road with no shoes on, with her saree that obstructed her every step. Gravel, pebbles, potholes or just tarred road, onlookers claimed that Lata Khare ran as if she had been possessed.
Then again, that’s what love does. It does what only love can do – it makes you transcend your limitations. And perhaps this is what unconditional love is. Read more here.
How does one practise unconditional love in a relationship?
Successful relationships are not built on some utopian definition of unconditional love but on simple practical aspects of living.
This is the secret: love other things together and don’t lose sight of the good you have. When you are able to love not just the person you love but what they love, your relationship reaches a whole new level. When you care about what the other person cares about, it’s what unconditional love can stand for. Read more here.
What is unconditional love?
What is the key, if any, to true love or unconditional love?
This is the simple principle of long-lasting relationships: to love them the way they want to be loved and not how you think they should be loved. This is the art of love in a nutshell. All else is merely an illusion of love, quasi love at the most.
If you truly love the other person then you make an effort to find out what matters to them and how he or she wishes to be loved. Read more here.
There is a lack of unconditional love in my life. How can I attract it so that I feel loved and happy?
What we want in life often arises from a sense of lacking, even insecurity. As you crave for food when your body lacks it, you long for fulfillment when life fails to provide it. In seeking that fulfillment we set goals and constantly strive and struggle to reach them, only to set more upon their attainment. This hunger is eternal, be it for unconditional love or wealth or fame.
When, however, you feel complete within, you don’t feel starved but full. And when you are full, the urge to be more or have more disappears. Read more here.
Is a parent’s love unconditional love?
In the context of her own life and that of her child, a mother’s love is selfless. It is love, yes, it is perhaps closest to pure love. It may even be the definition of quintessential love. But it is not unconditional love; a human relationship is seldom unconditional.
But in all honesty, I would prefer to stay away from categorizing it as selfless or selfish, conditional or unconditional love and so on. It simply is beyond words. No one is smart enough, no words so profound, no intellect so great to even begin understanding the divinity of a mother’s love, much less encapsulate it. Read more here.