Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Love.  §

The thing about love is that it is mysterious; it comes and goes according to its own will; it is a wild animal, noble and beautiful and fearsome and skittish. It does not obey anyone, and its nobility and beauty can’t be captured, can’t be caged.

You know it when you feel it; it is delight, joy, peace—everything that is good—filling your being and tingling in your extremities at seeing another person. It is not infatuation in that it has no future; it is not about seeing them “again” or wanting to be with them “in the future” or hoping to have and hold them. It is pure regard and admiration. It lives in the eternal present; it has no history and makes no plans or prophecies. It cannot be preserved or saved, nor stored up for the future. It encompasses waves of gratitude—for being, and for beauty, and for the life that makes love possible.

It must be free to be real, to be now, to be itself and nothing more, to be the creature of truth that it is. And it must be free to exist on its own terms.

You can’t manage it. You can’t direct it. You can’t ask favors of it or give it responsibilities. The moment you sit down to do Work in the name of Love, you corner it—cause it to behave and appear like a wild animal caught—you demean it, rob it of its truth and nobility, cause it to be unnaturally savage. Even worse, by trying to do Work in the name of Love, you may simply kill it. Certainly it can neither thrive nor reproduce in captivity. That is not to say that love is not active, that it is not an action, or that it is not something to consciously do. Only that if it is Work that you are doing, it is not Love that you are doing, even if it is Work in the interest of Love.

This is another way of talking about truth. Truth is, it simply is, and it can only be experienced in being, not in will. Love and truth are, in fact, the same thing. You cannot make them do your bidding. When you try—you fail, and you make the world more gray, more bleak than it was. To try to force love and truth to obey your will is to either lose them or to capture and hold them captive as shadows of their real selves.

Either way, under such circumstances, you cannot have them. You cannot have in control and captivity that which you glimpse and are edified by in the wild. They will not be what they were; they will not be what you hoped to use or to capture when you try to do so.

There is only one thing—to let them be free. To protect, in fact, their freedom, fiercely. Because your world and the worlds of the people that you love are darker places without them.

— § —

The very important corollary to this is that you cannot genuinely love and have at the same time, no matter how much you imagine that you ought properly to be able to do so. To have is to corrupt; to enslave; to demean.

Every time a person says, “I love my wife” or “I love my husband” or “I love my children,” they risk putting the person they love, and love itself, into captivity. There can be no “my” in love.

The wife, the husband, the children—over time, they will not feel “my” as love. They will feel it as a cage. To love is to love them, the being in-themself and as-themself, separately and apart from your own being, without trying to encompass and own theirs. The moment you find yourself trying to love them as them “my” whatever-it-is, you have lost the thread, and they will feel in the end not love, but captivity.

I know this from both ends of the phenomenon. I have spent much time in captivity, and I have held captive. Under such conditions, all is lost. Wildness becomes domestication and fear; noble becomes ignoble; beauty becomes fallenness.

There is only one way to love, and that is across the gulf that separates all beings. Love as pure, immediate delight and pleasure in someone’s very existence and nature, not in their relationship to you and without awareness of any relationship that may exist. The rest is self-destructive nonsense.

— § —

An old and increasingly dear friend has recently struggled with “Do I love them?” and “Can I love them?” style questions. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that these are, in fact, covert questions about captivity. They are, in fact, “Should I seek to capture them?” or “Should I allow them to capture me?”

Whenever such questions are asked, love is already in trouble.

Because love as an act involves no questions; you either do the things of love you you don’t. In the moment, when you see them, you either want to or you don’t. To try to reason it out, to try to make judgments—that speaks of control. People that do this aren’t trying to love or reveling in being loved; they are trying to control their own lives, and precious little of it is about the other person.

To ask yourself whether or not you ought to try to own them or allow them to own you—misses the point entirely, and does not bode well for the future of any love at hand. “Do I really want to be with them?” is at once “Should I take them?” (from the wild), “Do I want responsibility for them?” (as a pet or as a slave), “Should I let them take me?”, “Do I want them to be responsible for me?” and so on.

If you love them or want to love them, go and be with them and share. Nothing more is needed or can be encompassed. If you don’t, don’t. If you are thinking about consequences, you are haggling with them and yourself about the conditions of captivity—theirs, yours, or both. And in humans, captivity is incompatible with love.

— § —

This is not new. I am not claiming to have made some novel insight. It is the wisdom of the ages across just about every tradition. But maybe I am waking up to it again in my life, after a long period, and coming to a new plateau of seeing.

It may be too late for some relationships in my life. But I can be a better parent; I can love them as-themselves, and not as-my-wonderful-children. Because no matter how apparently genuine and positive the latter, such feelings are destructive. They are their own. And the love that I feel for them must be its-own as well. I can do the same with my friends.

It is a kind of truth that I am able to feel again, perhaps am able to be again, even if just a little, for the first time in a very long time.