L: I feel that I should give all the things to my parents, and everything. I internally feel that. That is nothing coming from the society. I feel that they gave me so much so I should give them too.
AP: See, it’s a very obvious thing if you would see. There is a recent case. I think just happened three or four days back. Probably, in Hyderabad or some other city in the South. A mother is refusing to breastfeed her newly born girl. Have you read that case?
Two babies were parallelly born. The nurse takes one out and calls out for the parents. Accidentally, the parents of the other baby that happens to be a boy, this first one is a girl, they come out. They take that baby so they get swapped. Within hours it is discovered that this mistake has happened. And when the hospital staff tries to correct the mistake, both the mothers insist that the boy belongs to them. One of the mothers is 22 years old, the other is 20 years old. Not old really. We have graduate students of that age. Correct?
Don’t you see that what we call as parental love or filial love, what is that? When you say that somebody gives so much to you, so you want to give it back in return, with all due respect for emotions and everything I want to ask if one is actually willing to give if giving is his nature, will he ever be selective and exclusive in giving? Isn’t this something that is taught to us and imbibed by us that this is the way a good life is lived – you produce kids and you would do all these things with your kids, you would do all these things and if you do these things you will be certified as a caring parent?
Even the definition of care is a foreign definition. A lot of things that are done in the name of care are not care at all. Real love is not about following protocols. I surely want, I desperately want that parents must have loving relationships with their kids. But, love is not about reciprocity. They did so much for me and I must also do something for them. This is the language of trade.
Love is something very different, very subtle, very unpredictable, very unique, Very local, localized, belonging to that point. It cannot be something general.
Kids in that family relate to their parents in the same way kids in this family relate to their parents. How is it possible? In the entire city, kids are speaking similar language with their parents. How is it possible? Every child is different. Every mother and every father is different. How is it possible that the same protocols are applicable to every home? But, is that not what is happening? And, that only proves that none of these relationships are real. A real relationship requires a lot of love and a certain courage as well because it involves unpredictability.
L: What is the difference between love and relationship? If we are in a relationship, love is there but still, we have to do something for the relationship to stand.
AP: No, relationship can be of any type. Relationship can involve multiple levels. Right now you’re sitting on a chair, there is a relationship between you and the chair. Right now there is this mic in front of me, there is a certain relationship between me and mike. You use your bike, there’s a certain relationship between you and your bike. It is not necessary that every relationship involves love. However, if the mind is loving then love will be present in all relationships. Get these two things together and parallelly.
We relate with so many and so much, people, animals, objects, ideas, bodies, the sense of self, we relate with them all, but we hardly ever relate in love. You can have a relationship your entire life without the relationship being a loving relationship. Yes, you would have a relationship, but there would be no love in it, it would be dry. Love is so fine, so tender, and so subtle, that those who have known have even gone to the extent of saying that love should not be called a relationship at all.
They have said that the word ‘relationship’ is a totally spoilt word. The word has become abused. So, when you say ‘relationship’, it should only mean a pre-scripted, definite, predefined, stale kind of relationship. When that is how you connect to the other, then using the word ‘relationship’ is fine. But when two people are together in love, and when I say ‘two’, and I say ‘people’, ‘two’ can mean anything from one till infinity, and ‘people’ can mean people, thoughts, ideas, things, animals, anything.
So, when you listen to my words, keep some consideration for the limits of the language and limits of the speaker to use language. So, when two people relate in love, there is hardly anything pre-scripted in it. How do you call it a relationship? That’s why they have said, “Do not call love a relationship at all.” Just Call it love. Don’t even give it a name. Because the moment you give it a name, norms kick in. You are my student, so you must behave in a certain way.
I entered this room and quite a few of you stand up. I was jogging this morning, nobody was stopping or standing for me. Why? Why? I go to the market, I buy stuff, I travel and meet people. It has just become a norm in the relationship. You are a student so you must behave in certain ways. Remember that your discipleship does not lie in your exhibition of respect. It lies in the attention and the love in which you connect with me. Even if you display all the ornamentation and all the regards and fail to be attentive, then where is companionship, let alone discipleship.
Love is like that. Love is an unconditional movement towards closeness, towards intimacy, towards Truth. All of these are one. That is the only thing that matters in love – closeness. No protocols matter. If protocols stand in the way of closeness then protocols will be discarded. If names, procedures, traditions stand in the way of intimacy then tradition, procedures, methods will be dismissed. That is why love is unpredictable.
It follows no rule except one, which is “I want only THAT.” This is the only declaration of love, “I want only THAT. Nothing else do I want, nothing else do I have any regards for.” In relationship THAT has no value. In relationship, it is between you and me. And because you and me, are machines so we do not know how to relate to each other, so what do we do? We bring in operation manuals.
When we meet after two minutes you will push this button. When we meet after six minutes this procedure will be set into motion. After ten minutes there would be a certain heating up. After fifteen minutes the oil will start boiling. Twenty minutes, fumes. Twenty-Fifth minute, the machine is switched off.
What else can the poor machine do? It does not have any aliveness in it. It does not know on its own how to do and what to live. How to live? So, it just follows the procedures. Love knows on its own. Love needs no instructions. Hence, we are so afraid of it. We cannot control it. We do not know where it would go and what trouble it might lead us into. So we say “You know, keep your hands off this dangerous thing. Better be informal relationships. There everything is nicely compartmentalized. There nothing can go berserk. There there is no danger of our madness letting loose.”
In love, your intrinsic madness starts playing out, and then all artificialities that we have, they get threatened. We don’t quite like that. We like that so much actually. You like that so much that you’re afraid of it.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Giving back to parents
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