How We Should Love One Another

by Percival J. Meris on May 26, 2009

WHY DO PEOPLE WHO LOVE SOMETIMES FALL OUT OF LOVE? Is there really such a thing as falling out love? Yes. If one falls in love, he could fall out of love. No, if…

Impulsive and built on shaky foundations, love that one falls into faces the prospect of being short-lived and saddled with disappointments in the end. Self-serving and fuelled by ecstatic emotions, falling in love is at its best merely getting infatuated. Infatuation, often mistaken for love, seeks out the good qualities of the loved one because they please him (the lover). An infatuated person falls out of love when these qualities disappear.

On the other hand, a person who loves truly does not fall out of love, because he does not fall in love. He grows in love. Love that one grows into develops slowly but endures forever. He who grows in love is he who becomes truly in love. He does not fall out of love. This is the person whose concern for the best interest of another surpasses that of his own.

How We Should Not Love

When asked why he loves another person, a lover will offer a variety of reasons. His brand of love is unstable and impermanent. Think about it. He is in love with the reasons and not with the person who possesses these reasons. These reasons please him or serve his own selfish interests. So, the real object of his love is not the other person but himself. Is it any wonder at all if he falls out of love when the reasons for loving cease to exist? Or when his loved one develops a quality that displeases him?

How We Should Love

When you love another, love him for no reason at all, other than that as God’s creature he deserves to be loved. If you should opt for this manner of loving, be prepared for great sacrifices, and be rewarded with great joy. When you love not one but more persons, your joy multiplies accordingly. When you love all – “all creatures great and small” – then your joy becomes absolute.

I did not put love of God into this equation. It is hypocritical to claim one loves God when he does not love His creatures. Do you remember the poem Abou Ben Adhem? Like him, ask not the angel to write your name among those who love God, but among those who love his fellow men. Like him, turn out to be the greatest lover of God among all others who love Him.

Love Is Volitional, Not Emotional

It is true that when one loves, he experiences wonderful feelings. But do not mistake love as a feeling. Love is an act of the will – a decision to be committed to the best interest of others. It is difficult because many times doing so displeases you when your own personal interest is at stake.

When you love, place another’s interest above yours. People who do the opposite are those who tend to wallow in self-pity, easily get insulted, always feel cheated, or perceive they are victims of injustice. But when you say “Never mind me. What is important is you.” then you don’t experience those selfish feelings.

Selfish Love: Basic Cause of Unhappiness

Those selfish feelings bring about great unhappiness. Just analyze people who have experienced miseries in their lives. You will find out the reason is that they have been deprived of what is due to them.

He who forgets himself for the sake of a loved one is willing to accept the deprivation, as long as the other is not so deprived. A mother who sees her baby inside a burning building forgets herself, and barges into the conflagration to rescue him. This is a great sacrifice that brings great joy.

Can you love your enemies?


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