Several days ago, a seemingly well-meaning but rather intellectually bloated blogger on Facebook posted the following message:
As a teacher of a university course on pop music, I regularly come across songs that reinforce the muddled ideas we have about love and relationships. Here are some examples:
“I’ve been waiting for a girl like you to make me feel alive.” Foreigner
“I’m gonna make you mine.” ABBA
“You give it all but I want more.” U2
“Sometimes I feel so insecure, and love so distant and obscure, remains the cure. Don’t wanna be all by myself anymore.” Eric Carmen
“When you left, I lost a part of me.” Mariah Carey
“If you leave me now you’ll take away the biggest part of me.” Chicago
“You’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’” Righteous Brothers
“At first I was afraid, I was petrified. Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side.” Gloria Gaynor
“I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” U2
“I’m love with your body.” Eddie Shearing
“This time I’m mistaken/ In handing you a heart worth breakin’.” Nickelback
Based on this picture, we are needy halflings, in constant search for a better half to fill with us with their love, and even then, it’s never enough. This explains why there is so much guilt in relationships. Deep down we feel that the arrangement is inherently unfair—taking all of another’s love and offering very little in return. This picture also explains the panic associated with breakups. Your partner has the power to render you halfless.
In our desperate search for love, we have overlooked the only real place to find it—inside. When you discover that eternal source of love, you will no longer approach relationships out of a sense of neediness. Healthy relationships are built when two whole people join to share the love they have already claimed as their natural inheritance.
He ended his particular post with the following graphic:
I commented on the person’s post with a link to a recent blog of my own taken from a Facebook page I manage. Here is the blog I linked to:
That was followed by several exchanges that ensued between us:
HIM: that’s because falling in love is not really about love, but emotional attachment and possession.
ME: Who’s to say what is or isn’t love when it comes to experiencing a very subjective feeling? ☺
HIM: that’s the point, really. Love is not a feeling. It is an openness and extension of your true being.
WHAT? “Love is not a feeling”? That stunned me — coming from someone whom I had earlier perceived to be an intelligent, mature, fully human, and truly spiritual person. I guess my initial impression was wrong. I then realized the mindset of the person I was blogging with: It was the bloated intellect of a pseudomystic’s ego.
I saw the precarious direction in which the thread would go if I pushed the discussion down along the road we were taking, and I was not in the mood to engage in needless human confrontation and conflict. So, I decided to desist from from replying further. I was later moved to write this post you are reading now to share the sad tale of “a bloated intellect” and to caution you about its inherent pitfalls.
According to his Facebook bio, the blogger is apparently multi-credentialed with several academic degrees to his name:
- Musicology, PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
- Music History, MM (Master of Music)
- Bible, BS (Bachelor of Science)
- Music, BM (Bachelor of Music)
Now that is a huge problem: The mind that is encumbered with degrees and credentials ends up with a bloated intellect and a puffed-up human ego that believes its intellectualism is the beginning and end-all of truth, life and reality. It has the makings and the trimmings of a personal self-righteousness and spiritual arrogance.
We feel first before we think.
I feel, therefore I am.
For heaven’s sake, where does love begin in a person but from a FEELING of attraction to the object of one’s love, whether it be another person, an animal or pet, a job, career or profession, an undertaking or activity, or anything that deserves the focus of our desire and pleasure valuation. Don’t tell me that love is not a feeling. Don’t repudiate or deny a perfectly beautiful human emotion of “falling in love” or “being in love.” Don’t deny me my humanity by invalidating my most fundamental experience of love as a feeling, an emotion.
As human beings, we FEEL first and foremost and think later as an intellectual after-thought, introspection, analysis or reflection. That is how we as an animal species rose through the ladder of evolution, and that is how we first emerged from our mother Nature’s womb functioning with the animal intelligence we were born with — our human instincts. A new-born human infant does not intellectualize or think that it is hungry or it is cold, or that it needs to be held, touched and comforted before it starts to cry aloud in need. The infant FEELS those things. Even as the infant grows and matures physically, the grown-up person still FEELS the hunger, the cold or the deprivation at the first instance before the person becomes intellectually aware of such to seek out the food, warmth or companionship.
Don’t intellectualize love by saying that “it is an openness and extension of my true being.” That is sheer intellectual bullshit.
It does not mean a thing to me at all if you, as someone who professes to love me,
tell me you have an “openness and extension of your true being” for me or that you are “opening yourself and extending your true being” to me. You would either make me run away scared of your weirdness or split apart at the seams laughing at the absurdity of your statement. However, if you express your feeling toward me through appropriate words or corresponding gestures, now that would paint a warm smile on my face and likely cause me to engage you in friendly conversation.
Admittedly, the initial feeling of love is not the end of the relationship process. It is only the start, a beginning. After we become emotionally aware of our feelings of love, we progress and develop intellectually as part of the process by trying to better understand the feeling in terms of becoming aware cognitively or intellectually why we are attracted to the person, what qualities of the person appeal to us, what makes us appreciate the particular person especially, and so forth. We thereby build on our feelings of love. It is in the course of building up the relationship that we “open up” more to the other and “extend” aspects of ourselves to the beloved other. Only then does love become clothed (not supplanted or replaced) with openness and an extension of our authentic being. These are building blocks of love not the foundation of love. The feeling is absolutely foundational such that should the feeling leave us or go away from us, then the love fades, disappears and is said to be gone from the heart.
The feeling of love is a highly,
if not purely, subjective
The feeling of love is a highly, if not purely, SUBJECTIVE personal experience. I cannot feel love for you nor can anybody else. By the same token, neither you nor anyone else can feel love for me. When I say “I love,” it is me who is doing the loving and nobody else. Thus, the emanation of love’s energies originates and moves out from the subject lover to the object beloved. This is true at the human level and at the spiritual level. That is why religion teaches that God loved us first before we ever loved God.
From the mystical perspective, the essence and nature of God is pure unconditional love. Because of our mystical oneness with God, then our essence and nature is likewise pure unconditional love. Because God is infinite, then divine love in us is likewise infinite: It cannot help but be OPEN and manifest itself as an “openness” to all that seeks to include all and not to exclude some. And because of God’s integral wholeness of being, love by necessity extends God’s universal being to all beings partaking of that One-Beingness. It is only in this utterly transcendental, mystical sense that one can even begin to seriously consider that love is “an openness and extension of my God-being.” Such a love is humanly incomprehensible — it being beyond thoughts and words — therefore, not even applicable to describing the love between and among finite human beings. There is a perfectly good reason why we “feel” with the heart and not with the mind: A bloated intellect and love do not mix well.
Divine love paradoxically is an emptiness which aches to be filled to overflowing, and a nothingness that seeks to be defined by something or someone.
It is a fallacy asserted by the blogger in his original post that: “ In our desperate search for love, we have overlooked the only real place to find it — inside. When you discover that eternal source of love, you will no longer approach relationships out of a sense of neediness.” Divine love is paradoxically an emptiness which aches to be filled and to overflow. Divine love is, also, a no-thingness that seeks to be defined by a something or someone. That is why this thing we call “God” created us: God NEEDS us as much as and as badly as we need God.
St. Augustine of Hippo Painting by Peter Paul Rubens
God finds the completeness of its love in our loving God back in return. The cosmic God is incomplete without us — each and everyone of us — each and every consciousness that has individuated from it.
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” ― St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions ―
Indeed, we are “an unhappy race of halflings, seeking a better half to complete us” (quoting the graphic poster image above on pop music). The earlier we can come to realize this and to accept it to be true of our humanity, the better we can all come to grips with our predicament in the human condition, not by intellectualizing our lives but by spiritually realizing our innate oneness. Then, we can start reaching out humanly to one another — to other “halflings” — in love and with love, in relationships where not only love resides and thrives but fulfillment is realized as well. And hopefully, prayerfully, we would have unleashed love out into the world.
A bloated intellect and love
don’t mix well.
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