Love does not cause suffering; what causes it is the sense of ownership, which is love's opposite.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I spend a lot of time thinking about Love. Part of this fascination comes from my curiosity about relationships and the way people relate to each other, part of it is due to my romantic and idealistic nature; and then, there's the spiritual questor and philosopher in me that can't resist.
Apparently, there are lots of different kinds of love: familial, platonic, unconditional, conditional, romantic, religious, self-love etc. People really do like sticking things into boxes. As if it makes it any easier to understand.
We could start from the beginning. Love is a feeling. When a person experiences this emotion, their system is flooded with happy hormones which makes the sun shine brighter, their smile even wider. The absence of love causes all manner of physical and emotional problems. Children have been known to wither and die without it; growing up in an un-loving environment creates shocks that may take years to over-come and some people never do. Living without love can create a state of un-health and non-wellbeing.
The personal development industry moves to address these issues and it's so saddening to see the genuine suffering of so many. And all from the poverty of emotional experience. It seems to be the root cause of so much unhappiness.
I wonder if by trying to define Love causes part of the suffering? Or if it is more the lack of expression and acknowledgment? Sometimes I think people say "I love you" and there's so much more attached at the end of the sentence. The full-stop at the end of "I love you" is actually a colon and what comes after is a litany of expectation, demands and conditions.
I wonder what would happen if people say "I love you", enforced that full-stop and breathed through the silence.
Wouldn't this keep things really simple? Love would just be, what it is; with acceptance, reverence and joy. Just to be able to be acknowledged, for itself. I think there would be so much freedom: freedom to be yourself completely. There would be freedom from pain, because there's no disappointment, no lack, no expectation, no judgement. Nothing to cause discomfort.
And of course, Love is free to be expressed and experienced universally. Because, if you're not expecting love to be fulfilled by one individual - you are experiencing Love for yourself, so you don't need them to love you back, or even from a human being, you are free to experience Love all around you. You see it in your pets' eyes when they look into yours. You lavish it on your home, your economic endeavours, your community...there is so much abundance.
I am Love; you are Love; we live in Love.
How simple it is really, how incredibly complicated we try to make things.
Our soul journey then is the quest to come back to this simple state of being: joy.