Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Love 2

In this post, I am going to follow up Love-1 with a simple definition for love and try to explain some observations with this definition. In hindsight, none of the conclusions of this post seem earth shattering to me -- but it took me some time to arrive at it, and I thought I will log it.

For any A, such that A has the capacity to think and/or feel; and any X,

The love of A towards X, is the measure of how strongly (or how much) A thinks/feels that X and A are one and the same.

In this sense, it is the measure of how much (or how strongly) A identifies with X.



1. Self Love (Love of A towards A itself):

Of all the thoughts that rise in the mind, the thought 'I' is the first thought. -- Ramana Maharishi, from Nan Yaar? (Who am i?)

Typically people identify with one selves -- For example, a person or an animal A thinks that he/she/it is actually A. Subject to this self identification, the love of an object towards itself is obviously the maximum possible value.

I don't think anybody will disagree with me about the fact that people identify with one selves. It is nature's way of making the person associate with his/her/its body so that he/she/it can take care of it and live. It is also easy to see how the personal/anaimal associates with its body ("here is something which gives me some signals about the world and something which I can control...so it is me").

According to hindu philosophy, an "enlightened person" does not identify with himself. The way I look at it, hindu philosophy argues in the following fashion...that there is no real reason for us to associate with our body, on the contrary disassociating with our body can lead us to eternal happiness.
(To get an intuition as to why there is no real reason for us to identify with our body, recall the scenario in the matrix movie.)

Disassociating with one self, will cause the person to lose his self love, but then this will cause the person to then love all entities in the world, equally and maximally, argues hindu philosophy.

2. Parental (esp. maternal) love

Again, nobody will disagree with me, when I say that maternal love is one of the strongest feelings of love. I think the reason for this strong love, the strong identification of the mother with the child, can be explained in the following way...since the mother knows that the child was a part of her body, it makes it easier for the mother to identify with the child. In other words, since the baby is a part of the mother physically, the mother impulsively thinks (to some extent) the the child is really her. This is the cause of the strong love.

3. Love through sexual relationships:

Sex has been accorded high importance in relationships...to such an extent that relationships often terminate when a person involved in a relationship indulges in sex with a person outside the relationship. In this sense, sex is linked to the loyalty in the relationships.

On the contrary, one can view sex just as yet another pleasurable activity. There are several other pleasurable activities possible, for example two people can derive great pleasure by playing chess together. But relationships seldom end because a person in a relationship plays chess with a person who is not in the relationship...you get the point.

I think the reason for this high importance given to sex, is because it helps in the process of each one identifying with the other -- when two bodies come into such close contact, each body tends to think that the other body is really itself.

>> but then this will cause the person to then love all entities in the world, equally and maximally, argues hindu philosophy.

hmm...this is a dangerous assumption. One of the criticisms of Adi-Shankara is that his non-duality renders ethics irrelevant. When your body doesn't belong to you, whats the problem if I pierce a knife thru it?

sexual love,

I think this is bit of an oxymoron. well, obviously I have no experience in this, but I think lovers (atleast initially) will be embarrassed about the animal activity called sex!
"When your body doesn't belong to you, whats the problem if I pierce a knife thru it?"

-- The body will take care of itself...hindu philosophy (for eg. karma yogam) just says to do your duties, with as much detachment as possible, where detachment is the lack of self identification.

I dont agree with your blanket statement on sexual love.
Interesting post.

I think its definitely true that loving something is associating of self to that something.
All other love is false love(i.e when self is not involved). Even losing the association of self with love(i.e enlighted person) has a self motive to begin with.

For eg: I mean Mother Therasa would have loved helping poor, bcos it gave her satifaction/good-feeling. Im not demeaning her sacrifice, but I think any social worker does definitely bcos it makes him/her feel better(same with enlightened ppl, they think they are getting peace/motcha/watever)

I think many blood-relationships enforce a "forced" love, only that we dont feel its forced. i.e one may love his brother much more than friends, though the friends mite have qualities he desires most.
Every person loves his mother most than any other woman(or lets say most other women). Ofcourse mother is just another ordniary being, but blood relationship would have "forced" this love.
I think this blood relationship is more of a "how long have we been close" than actual being part of a body. For eg,if a boy discovers that his real mother was somebody else at the age of 30, he wud still love his old mom I think.

Similarly, I think sex doesnt create any love between couples. i.e not bcos of physical unity, but the fact that "being close" brings love. Being close would mean,like wat u do will affect that person's life(personally,financially etc). This doesnt happen between friends.

But definitely physical contact(hugs/kisses/sex) help more in
"being close". So they do indirectly help in love i think, but only if they can bring some sense of being close.

Anyway thats wat I think :)
hmm, i don't think we're on the same page on self-identification. AFAIK hindu philosophy lays emphasis on us doing the karma with a further selfish motive of attaining motcha or just that we are doing gods work. I don't think I have read too many works which have urged people to see themselves in others. Seeing God in all of us is different. Plain lack of self-identification, I think, will render morals/ethics meaningless.

I agree with what you say mostly...esp the first 2 paragraphs.


by identification I dont mean seeing oneself in others. (If this is the case, then 'love' between two entities A and B will be something like the normalized dot product of the two 'vectors' A and B i.e A.B / (|A||B|), which will imply two orthogonal personalitites can never love each other...no, I dont mean this)

I mean identification as thinking/feeling some other entity (however different they may be) to be same as oneself. I think this is equivalent to what hindu philosophy says...which is something like 'see the god in everybody' -- which can translate to, 'learn to identify with everybody however different they may be' (if you remove the (redundant...some atheists may say :) god from the equation.
The closest blood relationship is mother. But the surmise of Arun that the blood relationship would have forced the love for mother is not correct. Mother makes supreme sacrifices in giving life to the child, orotecting the child, bringing up the child, and making it a full-fledged living being. Therefore the love for the mother is a natural one arising out of the sacrifices enjoyed and/or experienced by the offspring during its crucial phases.
Similarly the love between two humans arising out of sex, is bonded on the basis of mutual sacrifices made. The feeling says " I owe this love to you because you gave me this" And this sacrifice gets accentuated because of societal restrictions made over the ages, by way of institutionalising marriage and shunning pre-marital and extra-marital relationships. Thus the pre-condition of not having sex except through marriage acts as a stimulant for love arising out of sex, although such love naturally evoves decause of the realisation of mutual sacrifices made.
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