That night I slept feeling a bit lighter. I wondered how I had been holding fear of insignificant things. I had many questions popping in my mind. I wanted to ask. I dreamt strange but wonderful dreams that night.
Our next meeting was even more eventful.
We met under full moon light. My “Shadow Man” was there right when I needed him.
“I want to talk to you and I had been waiting for you” I told him without any hesitation.
“So why didn’t you?” he asked
“Because you weren’t there” I replied
“But I was… remember… I told you, I am with…in you. All you need to do is close your eyes and look deeply into your heart. I will be there… ALWAYS!” he reminded me
I closed my eyes, and saw his twinkling eyes. He blinked and said, “See. I told you. I am always with you”
“So I don’t have to wait for the light?” I asked enthusiastically
“No the light is inside you” he said
“Light inside me means I can speak to you in the dark too?” I tried to phrase my question differently
“Am I speaking some alien language?” He smiled sarcastically, “I thought I spoke simple clear words”
“Oh you do” I realized I was kind of too excited to know him. “I wanted to ask you some questions”
“You wanted to… do you still WANT TO?” He pointed out a small slant in my language as if it was a big thing. But perhaps it was. He was a master communicator after all.
“I do want to. And my first question is, what is love? I mean how do you know what love is and is not?”
I thought I will not give him a chance to redirect me so I jumped to my question directly.
“Well, Love is the purest emotion one can have, It is a divine emotion I’d say.” He replied
“Divine emotion?” I repeated
“Yes, however everything that people term as ‘love’ is not actually LOVE. Many times people use the term as a term of convenience. You can say different people have different variables or forms of it. It’s kind of… let me give you an everyday metaphor. You see these electronic products from China? Now Chinese people are good hardworking people. The make copies of many types for almost everything. So there is one that’s THE REAL THING and then there are copies of various lower quality. Some last for years, some last few minutes only. Then there is a whole range in between. Same is the case with this emotion called LOVE” He explained
Having used copies of some of these products, I could relate to what he was saying.
“So there are many types of love. Love that’s based on ‘Need of the moment’ – this is what happens when people need a favour from someone and they just feel the emotion of love for the ones they ask favours from. You will see very young children showing this at its best. Love of ‘other life forms now some people have a strong sense of attachments with animals, plants, trees. This also serves a need for them. The need to feel connected in many cases. Then there is love of fellow humans. This is built in to certain degree in all of us. This may show up when we feel someone needs us in some way. We may go out of our way to help them ‘out of love’. This is a very pleasant feeling and makes one feel significant in some way. Then there is love for our own family, siblings, friends. Generally this is based on ‘survival factors’ as long as people’s don’t feel threatened for their own survival from a ‘real or imaginary’ harm from their family, sibling, and friends they feel this. Now as they say, “friends come and go… family remains” some friends may become as close as family.”
I was wondering how many types of love exist. I thought it was just one. He was certainly expanding my personal ‘model of the world’. He continued, …
“Then there is love between two people. It has its own varieties. Some experience lust and call it love. It’s based on momentary chemical attractions and hormonal shifts within them. It ends more quickly then it starts. Often in a painful manner”
I felt very uncomfortable hearing about this one. Certainly I’d never want that.
“The other variety in this category is … let’s call it ‘Binding’ because it binds people but this binding has some more types. Binding on the basis of ‘give and take’ i.e. you love me, I will love you back. This is more of a business, a trade. It ends as soon as one of the partners backs off. It’s very common these days. This often causes ‘fear’ in those who want to have THE REAL THING. The second type is … let’s call it BONDING. Because it bonds people and allows them to accept those they love, with all of their good and bad qualities. It’s kind of conditionally unconditional.”
“Conditionally Unconditional?” I repeated
“Well, the purest form of love people experience from other humans can’t be totally unconditional. Even a mother says to her child under some conditions, ‘do what you want to do, just leave me alone’ when our own survival is threatened, we tend to reach the thresh hold of unconditional love and put up some conditions.” He told me
“But what about people who give their lives for others” I asked
“That’s a good question. By the way, people may die for a total stranger. Don’t you hear stories where someone died while saving a total ‘stranger’ even an animal? People may give life for the lowest forms of love. I think, it’s much easier to die for someone than to live for someone – wouldn’t you agree?” He looked straight through my eyes and right into my soul as he said it
I nodded as if I am in a deep trance.
“How about self-love?” I inquired
“Oh I will come to that in a moment. Let me finish… Now the ultimate and most profound love is the love of divine. But remember HE does not love everyone equally. In fact HE says in Quran, HE does not love polytheist, liars, extravagant… until and unless they repent.” He continued
“Now self-love is the first and foremost. You must love and accept yourself with all of your good and bad qualities. It doesn’t mean that you do not change or improve BUT when you truly love yourself you will want to improve and do it whole heartedly”
“What is the REAL LOVE then?” I was curious to know
“I think people will give different definitions for it. Being a Muslim, I’d say it’s the desire to see people you love get better & successful in this world and the hereafter.” He replied
“For example?” I wanted to know more
“Let’s say you have a friend. You see they are about to eat something that has poison in it or is harmful in some way to them but they don’t know. So you try your best to stop them. You may not be nice and kind – but depending on the immediacy of situation – you may even be shouting and screaming at them, just to make sure that they stop before it’s too late. They may not like it, but they will be protected”
“Like my mother” I added
“Yes, parents, spouse, siblings anyone can have that love for the other. BUT for it to survive it has to be consistent. As a general rule if, the one who loves sees the beloved doing something harmful and s/he doesn’t stop them, it’s not REAL LOVE and if they support them in this act, they are faking love. E.g. If one friend helps another friend in committing a harmful act (however small) like smoking or If parents see children doing something that’ll make them happy in this short life but will spoil their akhira (hereafter), then I would seriously question that as ‘REAL love’.
“This is heavy.” I thought.
“Which love does one need?” I asked
“It depends” he said as a matter of fact, “I think a little of all in various situations. You know, one needs several spices to have really tasty food. As human’s we can not have just one type and be satisfied. We need each type. Some more some less and some least.”
“Now this was getting even heavier.” I said to my self
“I think you have enough to ponder today. I want you to sleep over it and let it form into a solid ideas in the bright corner of your heart and soul. We will continue later” He said, as if he could read my mind.
“And remember when you want to talk to me, I will be right inside” He added “And yes, I want you to look in your life and see how many people do you know who – even were not nicer all the time – but showed real concerns in improving your life of this world and hereafter.”
“Sure I will” I said with determination
As I slept that night I thought hard to find people who gave me REAL LOVE. Well I have to admit there weren’t many.
Some who did love me, I misunderstood their intentions and spoiled my relationships with them. I felt sorry for my misbehaviour. I decided to call them up to say that I was sorry.
I was totally surprised and moved when each of them said, something like “Oh, It’s OK. I love you and I am happy that you are safe” It gave me a new meaning to the word LOVE. For me it became ‘a feeling of caring for someone’s well-being & happiness as much as your own or even more, no matter what – yeah, no matter what!’
That night I went to sleep feeling deeply relieved and had dreams of past and even saw the ‘Shadow Man’ giving me some new cloths and saying ‘it’s time to change’.
I realized he is one of those too…