"To love someone is to identify with them", said the great Greek philosopher Aristotle. Love remains to be a mystery. Everyone has their own definition. But these definitions get blown once you experience it. It seems totally different from what you imagined it to be. So, no one can exactly define what love is. Neither could science decipher it, nor could philosophy define it. Understanding love is a different process in itself. Even if we invest our whole life in understanding, it sure will surprise us. When love strikes right into our hearts, it sentences our senses to death. It embarks us on a rollercoaster raid.
It pushes our boundaries, to do crazy things. It drives us and sets our souls on fire. The very touch of our partner runs chills down our spine, their very sight gives us collywobbles. Every night we whisper good night and bamboozle the dark, never slipping to sleep. Intimacy ignites us. Everyone around us sees a different version of us, and so do we. Love intoxicates our soul. At times it breaks our hearts and crushes our being. So why do we choose to put ourselves through this rollercoaster ride? Does love make our meaningless existence meaningful? Or is it just an escape from the reality? Or a disguise for our sexual desire? Or simply a foreplay for procreation? Is love all we need? And do we really need it all?
As said before neither science nor philosophy has discovered the purpose of romantic love yet. However, throughout history philosophers have put some intriguing theories.
"Love makes us whole, again"
According to the Greek philosopher Plato we love in order to become complete. Plato writes about Aristophanes, in his 'Symposium." Aristophanes is a comic playwright. One night he goes to a dinner party. There he gets drunk. Intoxicated with booze, Aristophanes starts to narrate a story and amuses the guest. The story was about the wrath of the Greek god Zeus.
According to the story, humans once lived with four arms, four legs, and two faces. One day humans angered the gods. As a punishment, Zeus split them all in two. This punishment cost great loss to the humans. Every person missed half of him or herself. So, love is a process in which we find our soulmate, whom we once lost. It is an expedition that we make to feel whole again. We only become complete, once when we find our soulmates. Plato believed that love makes us whole.
"Love tricks us into having babies"
German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer called love an illusion. He says love is based on sexual desires. We fall in love with a belief that another person will make us happy, but we are wrong. Schopenhauer argues that love is nothing but a trick of nature. The only interest that nature has in humankind, is our procreation.
Nature doesn't want us to go extinct. To keep the species alive, nature tricks us into procreation, wearing a mask called love. The loving fusion we seek is consummated in our children. According to Schopenhauer, we go back to our miserable existence once our sexual desires are satisfied. Hence, love is nothing but nature's trick to make us procreate.
"Love is an escape from loneliness"
Every human has physical and psychological needs. Love satisfies both. Nature created us to procreate. But simply sex cannot satisfy our physical and psychological needs. Without love, sex becomes a tiring act. Without love, sex becomes unsatisfying. To make sexual intercourse satisfying, we need love.
According to the Nobel Prize-winning British philosopher Bertrand Russell, only the ecstasy of passionate love can make sex satisfying. The world that we live in seems threatening to many. It creates fear in the hearts. People distance and isolate themselves from the world because of this fear. Russell feels that love will help us to overcome this fear. Its warmth has a soothing effect on us. Its intimacy and delight will enrich our souls and foster confidence in us. Love will help us to engage abundantly in life. Love enriches our whole being, making it the best thing in life.
"Love misleads our path and leads us to pain"
Siddhartha Gautama, who became to be known as Buddha, after his enlightenment proposed that love is a doorway to pain. Love is nothing but an urge to satisfy our base desires. We imagine love to be a passionate craving but we are flawed. Romantic love is nothing but the source of great suffering.
To surpass, and free ourselves from these desires Buddha established the eight-fold path, the Buddhist way of life. When we live following the eight-fold path laid down by Buddha, we attain 'Nirvana' the state of enlightenment. According to Buddha nirvana will give us ecstasy, clarity, wisdom, and compassion.
"Love lets us reach beyond ourselves"
The French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir sees love as a desire to unify with another. She believes that this integration known as love, adds meaning to life. Beauvoir invests herself more on how to love than on why we love. When love is the only reason forexistence, and when we find everything other than love to be meaningless, it starts captivating us. This ruins the relationship.
Dominance defies the definition of love and we are entwined into the loop of boredom. To avoid this, says Beauvoir to love authentically. Let the partner free and not make the other person the sole reason for your existence. Love begins with great friendship. When we are in love, we should complement each other. We should help the other person find themselves, reaching beyond themselves. This will enrich their lives and the world together.
Why we love remains a mystery? This remains an unanswered question "The course of true love never did run smooth," says Shakespeare. Love is a mystery. It needs to be unravelled, and even if you spend your whole life unravelling it, never feels like wasting time. One either finds or loses oneself at the end.
Do you dare to find?
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