By Sanjib Mukherjee,
At one point in our lifetime, every single one of us will fall madly and deeply in love with another person.
Whether the experience be labelled as a teenage crush, an innocent infatuation, a soul mate union or even forbidden lust, no-one escapes the arrows of Cupid’s bow whilst gracing this earth.
Falling in love can be one of the most beautiful experiences we will ever have.
The feelings, unacquainted happiness, enthusiastic child-like joy and renewed passion for living life, can all be felt in abundance, leaving us content with having found our own sense of heaven on earth.
So, why is this same happiness experienced during love also the cause of so much misery and sadness in one’s life as well?
Most cases of depression and suicides are rooted in situations where a person has fallen in love (over 50% of love marriages in the west end up in divorce).
A multi-billion dollar industry has been created via psychiatrists, self-help books, relationship guides, mentors, coaches etc to help people understand what happens during love, yet no one has been able to really understand why falling in love can be so painful. No-one except the ancient gurus, who as always, have documented everything in the ancient texts.
The mind-body complex is made up of a variety of layers including the body, mind, intellect and ego. The ego is our most subtle layer, and is the final step before reaching what the yogis call our Atman (universal divine soul within us all).
Overcoming the ego is in essence the overriding goal of all spiritual quests. The ego is what gives us an individual sense of identity. At this moment in time, my ego is telling me that is it me who is writing this article, whilst your ego is telling you that you are reading the same post. Ego differentiates from one being to another, and it’s a natural tendency of the mind to attach itself to one’s ego.
Ego is not present at birth; it only manifests in a baby around 18 months or so, when it starts to develop its own personal characteristics. Our whole childhood and adolescence is rooted in ego through education and environment.
We become separated from one another at a young age through name, gender, height, academic abilities, talents, race, colour, behaviour etc, and learn to identify ourselves through the identities created for us. We can go through our entire lives establishing our sense of individuality through the ego, and never question any other form of existence.
Ego is firmly rooted in the concepts we have in our minds, however, love bypasses the mind and is manifested in the heart. Love cannot bear separation and continuously yearns to be united with the target of its affection.
Think back to when you were in love; even the moments where your beloved was sitting right next to you, did they not still seem so far away? We want to possess what we love, and submerge totally in another’s thoughts and feelings. In love, we totally lose ourselves, our sense of identity, our sense of purpose, and can spend our whole time thinking, feeling, pondering and fantasising about our partner.
Love creates compassion and unity with another being; ego craves for individuality and a sense of separation from the rest of the world. Here lies the root of relationship conflicts, and explains why falling in love can cause us so much inner turmoil and pain.
Ego and love cannot exist together in complete harmony; sure, there may be a compromise from both sides, and an uneasy marriage of the two components, but ultimately their differences are too vast to ensure any lasting union.
When a relationship breaks up, many times we blame the “other” person for all the problems we faced, and fall into despair when they cannot reciprocate the way we want them to love us. Our hearts dictate that our partner should think, feel, speak, love and honour exactly the way we want.
Our partner is expected to be in totally tuned in with our own thoughts. Ego on the other hand can only exist when it becomes rooted in a sense of individuality. Ego determines; “I think…, I speak…, I feel…, I love… etc for myself and no one else.” This constant battle between these two internal facets is ultimately what can wear us down, and turn the beautiful experience of love into a painful and miserable experience.
The way to come out of such feelings is simply to raise your own awareness of who you really are. By going beyond your own ego, you will realise you are so much more than the individual labels society has given you.
We are all part of a divine consciousness where everything belongs to everyone. The same way your left eye does not get jealous of your right eye, your love for another being will never get distorted if you feel a strong sense of belonginess to this entire creation. If the whole cosmos belongs to you, then surely your lover is also a part of you too.
If your lover is already a part of you, how could you ever feel hurt or pain with whatever he or she does? Whether your lover reciprocates your feelings, or whether they reject your advances, it really does not matter. It’s our very own sense of identity and expectations which causes our own misery.
Vivekananda once wrote: “There is not a single blow we receive in this world, which we have not brought upon about ourselves.” The statement is highly controversial for most people, but he is speaking from an extremely elevated perspective, where he is referring to how our lack of awareness of our true infinite nature is the only cause of any problems we face in this world.
Not everybody will comprehend this article, as we are now going beyond the scope of rationale thinking and entering the realms of yogic knowledge. Yoga is a combination of experiencing life, and uncovering deep-rooted knowledge within. Falling in love is perhaps one of the most life-defining moments any of us will ever have, yet so little is understood about what really happens during the whole process.
When falling in love, pain is inevitable, but prolonged misery can be optional simply by studying the essence of whom and what we really are. Yoga goes a long way towards guiding us to how our minds work, and how we can overcome any mental or emotional problems we may face along the way.