Photo by Shannon
By Rajiv Vij
The last few months have been a difficult time for my family – during which, we lost a close family member who I loved deeply.
The shocking news from her sudden diagnosis of a lethal cancer and subsequently losing her within weeks of diagnosis have left us distraught. Yet, this whole experience has been a humbling source to reflect upon some of life’s important lessons.
As we reconcile to this irreparable loss, we have been reflecting on the entire crisis and searching for the lessons it offered us. While there are many lessons to be learnt, I would like to share what I felt to be the most important one: the power of love.
The Power of Love
As this serious illness engulfed our lives, numerous issues flooded our minds. What disturbed us the most were the questions related to the meaning of life and the predicament around what finally remains of a person and their life’s actions.
After much contemplation, we finally grasped that love is the answer. Love sustains life and is what remains after life.
Despite the challenges of the situation, somehow we were all quite calm, positive and strong. Besides our meditation practice, I believe, it was really the power of love that not only gave us this special strength during this troubled time, but also made those few weeks so precious.
The anchor of love and compassion is now providing the support needed for the grieving family.
I was steadily experiencing the shift from carrying the intellectual understanding about love in my head to experiencing it more fully in my heart over the past few years.
I have come to believe that love indeed has the strength to dissolve all our emotional wounds and differences. Perhaps, it is the only thing that lasts beyond space and time.
Emily Dickinson, the 19th century American poet, wrote,
“Love is anterior to Life, posterior to death;
initial of creation, and the exponent of Earth”.
Love brings us together, leads to our birth, nurtures us, provides us the force for growth, sustains our existence and is the legacy that eventually remains.
Motivated by Love
Despite this essence of love, we ignore paying attention to love in our daily lives. It amazes me how limiting our thoughts and actions are sometimes. We fail to recognize that it doesn’t matter what we do, but it is the motivation behind it that makes the difference.
Even a small task can spread happiness and joy around us when carried out with love and kindness.
Love contributes to furthering the cause of the universe and thereby gives our action greater meaning. Life demands that we make compassion the guiding force behind all our actions and interactions.
Accordingly, at work, these considerations can determine how we treat our colleagues and customers, and in our society, the consideration we have for the underprivileged.
Love is undoubtedly the most significant nurturing force in relationships. Yet, while we intellectually know this, are we mindful of it in our closest relationships?
These emotions make us feel separate and isolated, eventually burying the love that exists inside us. Thus, a parent’s deep-rooted love for their child, when heavily clouded by their own fears, insecurities and moments of unconsciousness, gets expressed as anger.
Love Connects Us
Consciously staying attentive to spreading love and becoming open to receiving it, we feel totally interconnected and whole.
Mother Teresa said,
“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”
Being able to love someone unconditionally and to openly receive their deepest love is an energizing emotion. Marriage, partnerships and parenting offer the greatest opportunity to practice such unconditional love.
The gratitude from experiencing love in our closest relationships inevitably leads us to be kinder in all our other interactions too. The compassion inside us starts to flow outwards—towards our friends, community and the broader humanity. As a result, the virtuous circle of love continues to grow.
Discovering Our True Selves
In the process, we journey into our inner self and connect with our true nature—one that is full of love and happiness. Our ability to love others is generally limited by our love for ourselves. Connecting with our deepest core, we start to notice the reservoir of love inside us that’s been waiting to express itself.
Like the soul is never lost, so is our true nature of love. Recognizing this is liberating—it gives us the courage to wrestle with and overcome the limitations in our life.
Experiencing deep love not only strengthens us in the present, but also makes us feel confident of the future and come to terms with our past. Reminds me of what Alfred Tennyson aptly wrote,
“I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost,
Than never to have loved at all.”
Coming face to face with the death of a loved one, I recognized that the only moment to love is . . . now. The only time to express our love and the only occasion to make someone feel special is in the present.
Mortality is not something we consciously think of while going about our daily business. However, when the relevance of all our other attachments seems to wane, the most haunting question on the deathbed can be “Did I love enough”?
This is a concern that crosses the minds of not only the dying, but also their loved ones. Did they use all the time they had with the people they loved? Did they express their love enough?
We have an entire lifetime to prepare an answer to these questions. How we respond determines the difference between feeling complete with life or otherwise.
They say love the people you fear losing so much now that you don’t miss them when they are gone.
All that is required for this is doing our best to be more aware in the present moment; being conscious of our inner thoughts, beliefs and emotions; paying attention to and choosing to affirm, our loving, kind and compassionate intention in each moment.
The Sufi poet, Rumi, captures the essence well in the following words:
“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find all the barriers
within yourself that you have built against it.”
How about you? Have you loved enough?
How has the power of love affected you and your life story?
What can you do to express to those you love that they are deeply appreciated and cared for?
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