What is unconditional love?
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.