It seems to me that it's essential to know about love. Love comes in many forms. And to not love is to not live.
Many people talk about meditation and self-discovery, bringing themselves to higher levels of consciousness. Yet they seem - for all their knowledge and ability, for the various terminologies that they can utilize in descriptive discussion - to not know very much about love.
So this evening I'd like to place you a little bit ahead of the game, if I can. I'd like to save you about ten or twenty lifetimes, and I'd like to talk to you about love. Now, other people have talked about love. As a matter of fact, I have spent my whole life studying love. Love has been the only thing that's ever really excited me in this world. Even in school, I was drawn to the study of poetry, which usually dwells on the topic of love.
Love is an unbending emotion that is a reflection of a higher truth. Love is the ability to extend yourself beyond yourself and become perfect. Love is light. In the inner worlds, it's an energy, a luminescent energy that is the basis of all creation. Love is the only thing in this world that is worthwhile because it is the only thing in this world that is eternal.
If you haven't taken the time and trouble to find out who and what you are, it's very hard to love yourself because something in you instinctively knows that you're covering up.
Love has fascinated humankind for as long as we have been, because something in us knows that it is the only thing that will bring us ecstasy, that will make us happy, that will give us any kind of completion. I really don't suppose that I can add anything to what's been said about love. Books have been written about love. Plays, poems are filled with it. It seems to me that the best thing you can do to teach people about love is to love them, [be an] example, and this is what I try to do.
I have a disease. I fall in love with people very easily. I say that it's a disease in that it has a certain pathology that we can follow and observe, and that sometimes it's painful and sometimes it's almost destructive in a way. But maybe sometimes diseases have their place too. Maybe sometimes they cause something in us to fall away so something new can spring into place.
Love is not reasonable. If we could assign it to the reasonable world, it would not be useful. Love is something that causes us, in its higher aspect, to unite ourselves with God. It is the only thing that I know of that will do that.
All of the various forms of self-discovery, ranging from Zen and Tibetan tantra on through Christianity, Buddhism, whatever it may be, all of them are based on love. While in some forms of self-discovery, love may not be discussed a lot, it's understood to be the basis of all spiritual and religious practice. It is the essence of being and living. When a civilization, a race, a people, a society, when they lack love, they are soon destroyed. Gandhi realized this. Love makes you immortal because it connects the world of mortality that we live in now to the immortal kingdoms of higher existence.
Love comes in two forms, higher love and lower love, or let us say advanced love and the beginning of love. The beginning of love is self-oriented. The natural model, as Fromm has pointed out in his book, The Art of Loving, is the child. The child loves him or herself. This is not a bad kind of love; it's a very immature, basic, beginning love. If we were to graph the development of love, this would be the beginning, when we just come on the chart with our line. The child is only concerned with itself, with its pain, with its pleasure, with its feelings. If things don't work out, the child will be unhappy and cry. When the child is happy, it smiles. There is no regard for others, only for the fulfillment of the self, one's happiness and one's unhappiness. This is self-love. There is nothing wrong with self-love in its proper place, but it doesn't bring one much happiness.
At a certain point the child grows up a little bit. One day the child comes home from school with a terrible drawing of its mother or father. And the kid brings it in, and says, "Mommy, look what I drew!" And it sort of says "Mom" in kind of twisted letters, that look more like W's than M's, and there's this stick-like figure, and that's Mom. Mom looks at it and is delighted, because the child is saying, "Here, here's a present, I made this for you." That's love in a slightly more advanced form. The child is now looking beyond itself, and wants to do something for someone else. That's in essence all love is. It's the want to make someone else happy, to alleviate their suffering. That's love.