Love – Human, Basic – Eternal?


Love is a human emotion. It’s one of the five basic ones. But its shapes are numerous: there’s friendship across and among the sexes, there’s love between parents and children and there’s romantic love, as well as bodily love, as the more ancient term has it.

Why would it be considered eternal?

Two very basic experiments and their results come to mind:
There was an ancient king, if I remember correctly, who was part of Greek mythology, although unfortunately his name escapes me at the moment: he wanted to know what babies really need to survive. He put a number of them into a secluded spot, where they were fed and clothed and taken care of – but not loved. They all died.

Now, as a myth, my readers might think, well…

But, in recent decades this has been confirmed in a most sad way: after WW II many babies were orphaned because of the war. Sometimes, just ‘lost’. But the same thing occurred and apparently people concerned found out by sad trial and error:
babies that were kept warm, clean, clothed, well-fed, but unloved, not caressed or talked to, died. Healthy.

Consider what happens to grown-ups: when they feel ready to despair of love; lonely, depressed and devoid of hope, they suffer heart attacks and die. They may, tragically, commit suicide.

Hope is an emotion that is based on the idea that good will come. The confidence and trust that loved ones can invoke.

So, yes, in all the hard times that can be laid on human beings, and for all the hard ones I’ve seen, I still think, and consider myself lucky:

I’ve seen friendship, love, care of parents and relations. I’ve learned what helped me. Close to despair one day I met a person who without any apparent reason smiled at me, a warm smile. And suddenly I realized, what makes the sun rise in my heart:
Love, unconditional, in all its shapes.

The sound of it seems to be captured in the wonderful recording of Antonin Dvorak’s “From The New World”, his symphony no. 9, conducted by Ferenc Fricsay.
An excerpt of the most beautiful parts in the first movement here:

Religion – Life – Philosophy – Strength of Mind

ancient-buddha-stucco-white-old-red-brick-thai-ancient-tradition-pagoda

I was raised as a Catholic, by parents who at the same time were enlightened philosophers, in the sense of the philosophical enlightenment founded in the 18th century in the middle of Europe, with British, French and German philosophers at the helm of it.

I have since had the luck to be part of a university’s body as a student and graduate, with famous researchers in religion, philosophy, language and culture close at hand. I have read and thought, and discussed matters of religion, philosophy and culture for decades. To me it became clear in the course of many years that for all the sorrow, cruelty and hardship a human being may go through and endure, one thing remains adamant and is the core concept to me:

Love.

Much has been written about it, songs been sung, and operas, poems, books , plays been published. Although money seems to be the one driving force in human life – love, in all its shapes, is the other.

And when hardship falls on us, loved ones die or we just have to face humans that have decided to go the other way, love can carry us through.

I also think it important that we find the love inside of us:
because if we only search for it outside, only half of all our potential will be made true.
That’s why I find the concept of ‘neighbourly love’ crucial as well as helpful, as we know it from Christianity: ‘love thy neighbour as you love thyself’.
Psychology actually supports this concept:
only if we like and support ourselves, body, mind and soul the same way we would our near and dear, will we have the strength to do it – support both, ourselves as well as others. And we endure hardship easier.

I am not the first to say it and certainly will not be the last. In the bible one of the most beautiful texts about love is this:
Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13.

Zeus, Casanova and Modern Medicine – or Why It Never Works as Expected

Zeus and Casanova have a lot in common – but they are myths. I’ve posted about this in different ways a couple of times.

The Starting Point

The mind of too many people is as in a cage. They have learned what is expected of them, what is considered ‘good’ and ‘bad’, what is expected behaviour.

They try to comply to the rules. At the same time, they have yearnings, or urges. Popular movies as well as a certain kind of science, at least the widely published one, seem to confirm certain beliefs that have become popular since patriarchy came into being, so basically, since the advent of the big religions whose main premise is:
there is only one god, and ‘he’ is male.

Male vs Female Lust?

Based on this premise, many ideas have become common knowledge, not to say understanding. And ever since the feminist movement has made clear that women are equal, even superior in some ways… the idea also was commonly and widely accepted: in passion or lust they on the one hand would be – or are – more energetic. On the other hand, they could just as men would, have a passionate relation without ‘love’ being involved – just as easily.

This little phrase, so quickly written and even said more quickly, is the damnedest misunderstanding, not to say falsehood, that ever came into being among mankind….

Thinking it Through

Why?

Well, again, as I like to do, I’d encourage anyone interested to really think it through:
Where does passion start? In the loins?

No!
That’s one of the most dreadful mistakes yet: it does start in the mind! In the brain. With human imagination!

How can that be? Isn’t it a bodily reaction? Do not all those researchers of medicine tell us – and have at least for decades – that it is ‘just’ our hormones reacting?

Hmmmm…. But, I say, as answer, if that was true, how could it be that people so often need more than just a little ‘helper’ to get excited?
How could it be that people so often seem to ‘feel something’ – but the day after is grey and full of a certain emptiness?

Because, our good and well-meaning scientists of the order of medicine themselves forget (at least until recently) to get ‘cause and effect’ into order!

Some, who know a little more about these matters, mostly psychotherapists and -analysts, have learned what is really at the heart of all of it: just that, namely, the heart!

The Steps Involved

The explanation I like to offer here in the form of steps taken, is as simple as possible and should convey the meaning:

  1. A person, man or woman, starts thinking nice and soulful thoughts about another.
  2. The other person is either in the room, and looks nice and soulful – or they are an image in the mind.
  3. The person who started thinking in the first place, begins to embellish thoughts and ideas with more images…
  4. Fireplaces may be involved, scarce clothing, dark hidden corners, secret places, sunny and almost deserted landscapes, etc.
  5. Now, what happens? Their heart starts beating, the breath begins to quicken, the eyes to shine…
  6. And this is the point where not much more would be needed except the object of desire to be present.

NOTE:
Whatever is involved as regards place, location or time of day: the person or persons imagined in it are usually just as excited as the (day)dreamer!

The Beating Hearts

And that is the core of the misunderstanding: people disregard this tiny and yet so crucial detail in their (day)dreams:
‘two hearts beating as one’!

That is why anything else tends to end in a kind of practice for gymnasts: something goes missing…

If this continues, and these imaginative people, who stop thinking too early, and constantly hunt for that ultimate experience believing in the idea I mentioned above, namely, that it’s ‘only the hormones’ – they will be disappointed over and over again.

Belief – or Truth?

Some will resign to their (imagined!) fate:
and live the rest of their life in the belief they had missed out on something, since it seemed to come true for others…?

Those others will feel more and more emptiness, need more and more stimulants, because they pretend to the world and to themselves that all is as it should be.

Be brave! Be true to yourself! Even if at first only in private! (So as not have to admit to it….)
Unfortunately, in this day and age, especially men very often are even laughed at by those who seem to be the impersonation of the ancient mythical god Zeus, purportedly the first Casanova in European culture:
have any woman at a wink…
and live a passionate and fulfilled life. It may have worked for Zeus in the tales, because he was a god; but it will never work that way with human beings, because they are less – and more:

The Gods’ Envy

A famous fairy story is that of the gods who envy humans their ability to love. The two gods start to play a game, placing a wager, by using and setting up a man and a woman. The game fails, the wager between them comes to nothing, because: humans can love…

And: it didn’t even work for Casanova, really. The objects of his desire quickened his pulse every time – and, remember, ‘swaggering’ is an old, widely known and well-loved method of boasting; but it does not necessarily contain many truths….

So, again, I encourage you, whoever you may be, reading this, man or woman, be true to yourself, to your heart: and find the truth.

Herbert Grönemeyer – Song “Männer” – “Men” – English Version

I have posted before on the relationship between men and women, about patriarchy, images, perception and stereotypes…

One wonderful German song exists since the 80s, when the German pop culture had one of its highlight times: the “Neue Deutsche Welle” Famous representative among others is Herbert Groenemeyer, and his perhaps best known song, “Männer”. Sharp-witted and warm-hearted at the same time, he dismantles by hyperbole… Enjoy!

Surprising to me is the fact that there exists a well-crafted English version. Posted here for all of you guys I’ve met as good friends or colleagues – and my fellow female human beings, who’ve known a man or two, too.

Athena – the Goddess of Wisdom, War and Craftsmen in Greek Mythology

Athena, goddess of wisdom, war and crafts in Greek mythology, brought to life again…in a manner of speaking.

Why ‘real’ – or ‘true to life’, when talking about ‘mythology’? Which in the tradition of almost all peoples around the globe is a ‘myth’ to begin with, something like a ‘highbrow fairy story’?

Of Greek mythology it can be said particularly well that it was built, based on what was common in the society at the time:
life, love and war or parents and children, brothers and sisters. Kings, queens, gods and peasants, they figured in it, fought, won, lost, loved and hated just as human beings did – and do.

As a child I encountered the German retold stories of Greek mythology ‘en vogue’ then. I didn’t like the style. It seemed cramped and rather bent on trying to provide a sense of blind worship for the old traditions. Typical among those that seem to hold anything of ancient Greece in highest regard without checking twice – or real understanding and a broader view.

Still, recently I came across a documentary about the Greek myths that not only was colourful, consists of more than 20 parts – but also seems true to ‘life’.

The second time after reading Joachim Fernau, historian, of hotly debated, enlightened approach, who yet successfully made ancient history come to life in his books on Roman or Greek mythology and history.
Colourful, too, great fun to read, with real insight.

Athena, the Modern Woman?

Athena is particular to me because she seems to represent a figure as a woman I feel I can relate too:
not perfect, but well-liked, desired even, yet not easily taken in – or had. She fights only in order to make more peace.
She sprang from the head of her father Zeus, reigning god of Greek mythology,  at birth, also a striking way to come to life: a father’s thought or idea…

She failed once dreadfully when killing her sister in a sparring fight, where her father Zeus interfered at the last minute, blinded her sister momentarily to weaken her and thus makes Athena kill her sister accidentally.
A little background here makes it clearer:
‘Pallas’ had been her uncle Poseidon’s daughter in the tales, but both had been raised and felt like sisters. That Zeus would interfere at all, in the tales was due to an old rivalry between his brother Poseidon and himself.

That’s apparently why she is called ‘Pallas Athena’ on most statues or scrolls or in texts: she put the name of her beloved sister in front of her own to remind and be reminded for the rest of her life.

She is protective goddess of all crafts, close to arts and although I am not a craftswoman as such, I like many crafts very well, such as knitting, crocheting, or cooking.

Wisdom, last but not at all least of the main characteristics and responsibilities of her as a figure in the tales:
wisdom is dear to me and I try to attain more, as the years pass  by, always have held in it in high regard.

Wisdom and knowledge are not the same thing by a long chalk. But experience and a kind heart, as well as knowledge are the best possible bases for wisdom to come – sometimes sooner, sometimes later.

Non-violently ‘fight’ for peace, be wise, do not let them fool you and look your fellow-man – literally and figuratively – squarely in the eye, yet remember also about love or passion, quality-wise, instead of quantity: that’s what this image means to me in a nutshell. Athena.

Love – Life – Marriage – Passion

Love is not an adventure – but a journey.
Passion is not a function – but a person.
Marriage is not a commitment as in: prison – it’s a decision.
Romance is not a fleeting idea from fairy stories – but heart and mind of a person.
Life is not a sandbox and games – but responsible behaviour – and a ‘Yes’.

Numbers, Business – Everywhere: Love?

People for quite some time, even more so since WW II and the global ‘advent’ of an apparently global culture – have embraced the idea that business is good. More business is better. Which basically means: the higher the numbers, the better.

This leads to the rather sad realization that many people also treat love that way: they may not know better, but they act as if numbers are at the bottom of it. Love the most beautiful, the richest, the most handsome, the loudest, funniest or something else …est.

And the surface too often is taken for the real stuff: whatever someone says is taken at its face value, it seems as long as the image is ‘fitting’ the mainstream, the fashion, the – numbers, all’s well.

Particularly irritating at times is the behaviour of grown-ups, who seem to have no sense of their individual value, who think that having fun can have one connotation only – and that it is also fine to listen to what the majority apparently has to ‘say’ about these matters.

Who are constantly testing their market value by flirtatious behaviour or coy looks and moves – and seem to overlook completely, that they are transformed into a product, on ‘the market’… Almost seize to be human, and loose all individual character in the process, because they try so hard to be ‘part of the crowd’, the majority. Fulfil general ideas, instead of being a person.

So, what people believe, seems to amount to this:

  • The majority, it is taken for granted, is always right.
  • Fashion or what people take for it, the mainstream, is the best thing to have – or be. Or at least be part of.
  • The majority states that having fun means, more of everything is better – even in love. Or what they take for it.
  • If one conquers ever so many more and new people every other day, not only will certain others look up to them – it will make life so much more interesting and – fun…

All these assumptions are based on  the idea of numbers: and since human beings are not ‘working’ by numbers alone or even mainly – these ideas will never result in what many people are looking for.
Instead, the boredom and the uneasiness continue – and become more. More people, more exciting moments become necessary to fill the void, scare away fear or anger –  and less and less insights into their own soul, true needs or sorrows are possible.

What will be impossible to find, are fulfilment and the inner calm of ‘having arrived’.  The ultimate contentment.
These things can be found only inside, not out.

One of Those Questions – Love in Triples?

It seems that in long-term relationships for all kinds of reasons people can forget about passion and how it might work…
Sometimes it’s not so much the ‘forgetfulness’, but reasons outside of their strictly personal ideas have made them come together, especially: marry.

For thousands of years mankind has been wondering and does every day, if passion must not fade, naturally, after some time.
I am not sure if I am the right person to answer this definitively, but in my opinion: ‘no’.
I am a romantic and I believe that with patience and knowledge and the right setting more things are possible, than “are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio”, as Shakespeare has Hamlet say in the famous play.

A lot of people seem to feel that the solution lies in the triple: have the long-term partner to share life with – and the second ‘love’ to share passion with. Little vignettes may swim to imagination’s surface, painting the life that way in rosy, passionate and separate colours…
Interestingly, almost no one takes the time to think this through… Man (and woman) is not a machine, a function, but always a unique being, a whole of mind, soul and body.

So, shortly put: triples do not work in love.

Be that as it may, this little clip from one of my favourite movies gives a nice answer to that question, that is not definitive, on the surface – but makes you wonder in a good way…

The Beauty and the Beast – or: The Idea of Loveliness and the Adored Woman Divine

In former times the idea existed of what an adorable woman should be like, I have to some extent already mentioned this before: she was to be slender, graceful, mild and smiling. Aloof from the ‘pit of worries and ugliness’ of this world, basically angelic.

The concept of adoration carries with it the idea of the pedestal, the aloofness, even distance and other-worldliness that is sung to in many songs and poems of the time when the idea of ‘courtly love’, the ‘Minnesang’ or ‘Minnedienst’ (German) was in full swing. Knights were sworn to such a service to a lady, they often chose one themselves that was a picture of virtue and aloofness. More rituals are associated with this service: the glove of the adored woman the knight was to carry around always, or a lock or a special piece of cloth, often embroidered by herself as a sign that all his deeds were dedicated to her, in war, in life and in death.

This romantic love created a mist, a blur of what we today still find in everyday infatuation. It calls an emotion ‘love’ that is based on a fairy story, an illusion about the perfection of a human being. Where the outer appearance is at least as important as the alleged virtues.

Actually, the image gets even more blurry and confusing by the fact that the ‘inner and outer beauty’ are exchanged for each other. The looks are taken for the person. Thus the emotion called ‘love’ based on this idea rather than person, is a picture – painted perhaps with great artistry – but still only containing part of the truth.

Truth: the concept of truth to me also is contained in these images, but it is more. It is what you find when you look closely, without prejudice. When you are not afraid of some time sordidness or disillusion and still are able to see the whole picture.
In Persian there is a saying: “the truth is bitter”. And that can be true too.
Ayurveda just equals truth with life.

I have found in the course of my life that truth, reality, as difficult to bear sometimes as it is, in cases of cruelty and torture in war or politics or crime – makes for ultimately a safer kind of life. And a more interesting and diverse one. Because our ideas and our perception are based on facts, not surmises, therefore sound. Because all the little details we can know about friends or family – or the loved one – will make us appreciate them for what they are: human beings.

The concept of knowledge, recognition, is to be found here too: in an almost biblical sense, to ‘recognize’, to really know and still like and love. Therefore I rather won’t have anyone adore me for what I look like. ‘Adore’ me, at all. Because for me that’s not real, ultimately doomed, because it will end the day the veil is lifted, the illusion destroyed.

So I for one, would rather not be adored by but well known to a man of my heart.