Love is where you are not.
It would bomb as a pick-up line, but it’s a concept of love worth pondering. They are the words of Jiddu Krishnamurti, a renowned spiritual teacher who travelled the world in the twentieth century extolling the merits of self-inquiry.
At first the statement comes across like one of those if-a-tree-falls-in-the-woods Zen mindbenders, but spend a few moments with it and it may dissolve into a valuable insight.
Tug on the word ‘you’ and the statement begins to unravel. You, as in ego. Krishnamurti was saying that love can only exist when the ego is not around to muck things up.
Few of us would object to such a selfless concept of love. Similar observations by acknowledged subject matter experts like St. Paul and Kahlil Gibran lift our lips into hopeful smiles during wedding ceremonies. In those moments of stillness we contemplate the endlessness of human possibility, but only seconds later we are contemplating the endless flow of free beer at the reception. It’s as if such grand visions of love are too hot to hold, or perhaps too unattainable to sustain our attention.
Divorced from feeling, love loses its conventional charm. When it’s not being rented out for wedding ceremonies, the concept of love as a shared state of being is considered the property of ascetics like Gandhi and Mother Teresa. Far from romantic, it is a state in which the ego loses its grip and one’s identity merges with those around them. It is love without a speck of self-gratification; in the absence of ego, there is no self seeking any reward.
Love exists, according to Krishnamurti, because we no longer do.
An abiding state of love awaits the disillusioned. We need not shave our heads or abandon all earthly pleasures to enter this transcendent state, but we must discard the notion that love is a self-fulfilling venture. Love and ego cannot coexist. Like light and shadow, they cancel each other out. For love to appear, you must disappear. You must give yourself so completely that no trace of you remains. Love arises in the space created by your absence. Love is where you are not.
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