Martine & Stephen

Batchelor

Human beings are endowed with the capacity and the ability to love. For love to happen we need to be able to recognize the other, to relate to the other. Love necessitates connection. It requires of us that we see something or someone beyond us. It is easy for us to be locked into our inner world: our emotions, our thoughts, our sensations, our body, our mind, our problems. Because we identify so much with the conditions that make us we often limit ourselves to these. We become locked inside ourselves and are the poorer for it. We feel isolated and separate. One dimension of ourselves is indeed of aloneness. Nobody can feel our pain or our problems for us. However, through the breath, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the medicines we take, the houses we inhabit, we are inevitably and intimately connected to the whole world. We are inescapably alone with others.

Love is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves and others. In love the self expands and becomes open to experiences from the outside. We go beyond ourselves to what is other, to what we do not know for certain. But in the continuation and the growth of love we come to know intimately what is other. In that knowledge and intimacy comes acceptance and trust. For love to grow beyond the initial attraction, we have to learn to accept the other fully as they are. If our love is conditional and compartmentalised, then trust will not be able to develop. This is the greatest gift of love -- acceptance leading to trust. The power of trust resides in the fact that through it, self and other can develop together and separately. Love does not make us become one with what is loved or merge with the other but makes us stand and walk together in harmony and in growth. It allows us to share a nurturing space.

Love is a feeling for, an awareness and an appreciation of the other. Love is possible because we have feelings and emotions. But these feelings and emotions can be positive or negative. It is the same with love. It can be a positive force or a negative one. It is negative when it leads us to more grasping. Because the feelings of love are so beautiful we want them to last. Because we feel that they are being created by the presence of the other we want to be with the other constantly. In doing that we limit them and ourselves. Love is positive when it helps us to be more open and spacious. When we realise that there is no limit to it. The more we love, the more we can love and share that love with others.

Awareness is an essential factor in wise loving -- awareness of the other as another being who is alive and is breathing just like us, and also just like us wants to be happy, loved and accepted. It is also an awareness that the other is not an extension of ourselves but that we are walking together on this earth, sharing the same air. Love is also a recognition and appreciation of the other not so much in terms of what they bring to us but in terms of their whole being. We are grateful that they are alive, participating in the dance of life as we are.

At the root of love there is liking but if love is only based on liking this will limit its influence and power. One essential aspect of love is care and respect which does not necessitate liking and attraction but an intimate response and connection to life. We care and respect life because we are part of it. A love of life is an universal love which is wider than loving one person. Although loving one person can help you to open up to universal love. In love there is also compassion which is feeling with. We are aware of the suffering of another person and we respond to that. We are not indifferent to it. In compassion there is a passion for life rooted in awareness and response.

In love there is affection, warmth and contact which can have a healing effect. There is a physical, emotional, mental sharing. We come into contact with others. We affect them and they affect us. Love can influence us greatly, it can help us soften what is fixed. It can help us open what is closed. It can be a creative force in our life. In coming close to others we are enriched by their natures and in turn they are enriched by us. Something new can come out of this intimate sharing. In love there is also passion which is full of energy and excitement. This will invigorate us and is often associated with a deep feeling of joy.

Some of the obstacles to love are our agenda, expectations, needs and wants. We have to be careful that in love we are not looking for ourselves, for a replica; nobody can be exactly like us. Love can help us discover our differences so that we can become enriched by them.

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