A bouquet of flowers picked along the way ….

love is labour June 2, 2010

Filed under: Ethics and Values,life,love,philosophy — gurdas @ :

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.” ~Morrie Schwartz

So often is love considered to be an emotion that is born of unknown origins that we forget love is labour. Love in its highest form is a verb. It requires action. It requires effort. It demands that both giver and receiver indulge in the act of loving to improve the life of each other.

“Love never reasons but profusely gives; gives, like a thoughtless prodigal, its all, and trembles lest it has done too little.” ~Hannah More

This giving does not come easily. The roots of this tree have to spread wide and deep for the fruit to bear long and sweet. Otherwise there is the danger of the tree succumbing to the harsh winds of life. We must train ourselves to practice love. Khushwant Singh, on a visit to the Missionaries of Charity, could not bring upon him the love to care for the sick, old people that Mother Teresa would smilingly care for and so he put forth his question, “How can you care and love them?”. To which Mother replied, “I see Jesus everywhere.” Mother Teresa was living her own words, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” And she was not able to do this because she started with an ocean of unending love inside her. No, she started with labour and will. The ocean was created along the way. And she laboured to make the ocean grow everyday. Through dark hours and staggering odds. Her love was not an emotion to be enjoyed while it lasted. Her love was a creation nurtured with labour.

The most satisfying description of love I have come across was in Scott Peck‘s book ‘The Road Less Traveled‘. Scott defines love as “The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” The two pages that follow this rather simple definition contain a persuasive and uplifting discussion of love and labour. I find Scott’s use of “spiritual growth” as a tool to judge love somewhat exalted. For me, the desire to provide happiness and/or help is enough to qualify as love. Kindness, then, is an ingredient of love.

And one need not look so far and high as Mother Teresa for exemplary love. Somewhere around you is a mother that displays the same love, though in the restricted sphere of her children. When a child is conceived, the mother knows nothing of the child’s attributes. The child has done nothing for the mother. The child has not and cannot return any love until it is born and for a long time after that. And yet the mother will make significant sacrifices, smilingly take great pains for the betterment of her child. Yes, there is an attachment born out of possession here, but still, the expression of love happens without any real reciprocation by the child.

“Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” ~Robert Heinlein

But, as we know from our own lives, it is uncommonly difficult to love. A loving soul is characterized by kindness and humility. A gentle disposition, a desire to help, and a desire to stay the course when there are no obvious reasons, are all ingredients of a loving soul. John Harrigan succinctly said, “People need loving the most when they deserve it the least.” In other words, what he is saying is that sometimes you will have to be able to love even without wanting to. And this is exactly where labour comes into the picture. It is easy to love someone who is ‘lovable’. But to be able to love any soul at any time, requires tremendous empathy and will. Most of us, including me, do not have the ability entirely. However, all of us have it in varying degrees. The more your capacity to love, the greater goodness you see around you.

I see love as a strong silk rope. Made with the strands of empathy, forgiveness, kindness, humility, goodness, acceptance, and hope. I believe true love is born out of the presence and practice of these faculties. We start with some mix of these traits and gain love. We then use that love and create more of each faculty, which in turn creates more love. The more you practise love, the more love you have to give. Such a beautiful cycle. True are the words of Mother Teresa. Once you know this, you also know that it is unwise to wait for love to happen first and everything else to follow. Love is not some magical, illogical, inexplicable emotion. That is infatuation. No, we start with some basic ingredients and cook love along the way. And then we serve love, with love.

“Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek & find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~Rumi

Love is extremely self nourishing. Before your love benefits anyone, it benefits you. May no day pass without your soul being drenched in the healing powers of love.


Journey of the Heart May 24, 2010

Filed under: life,love,photography — gurdas @ :

Beside Chandratal Lake, HP, India. Aug. 2007.

Our life is not one single journey. It is, rather, many tightly woven journeys which are so deeply interlinked that we may safely view them as a whole.

There is the journey of the body. There is the journey of the mind. There is the journey of the heart.

And it is the journey of the heart that touches our deepest depths. But it is, again, not just one single journey. The heart makes many many journeys and often the roads intersect; the results of one become the baggage of another, and the troubles of one become the gifts of another. Such is the nature of Life.

For the individual and the society, it is the journey of the heart that is vital to existence as a race. From the day we are born we begin these three journeys, and they end only with our demise. But what makes the journey of the heart unique is that it can never exist by itself. The body can exist by itself, the mind can learn without always needing another mind, but the heart is nourished, it’s journey made only with other hearts. A mother makes this journey with her child, a brother makes this journey with his sister, and couples make this journey with each other. It is our hearts that truly make us what we are. The most skilled craftsperson draws his/her inspiration from what emanates from the heart. That emotion is crafted by the skills of their mind and body, but the origin is always the emotion. It could be a painter, a composer, a doctor, or an engineer. It is their *love* for their profession that inspires them to excel. And love is nothing but a vehicle of journey of the heart. Truth be told, the journey of the heart underlines everything we do. It is the root of our happiness and our sorrow. It is the root of our creativity and destructiveness. It is the single most powerful force at our disposal.

Imagine being able to cook very well. But, when you actually cook, you do it because you love doing it. The skill to cook by itself has no pleasure. You acquire the skill to be able to make a journey. The mind then becomes a tool for the heart to accomplish its goal.

And so, it is vital that we recognise that the journey of our life, is essentially the journey of our heart. And I know it means I am now saying that we truly make only one journey. That of the heart.


Trusting Trust February 16, 2010

Filed under: friends,life,Me — gurdas @ :

In a recent episode with a friend, the value of trust in a relationship was revealed (again). The more I forge and nurture relationships, the more I respect the value of trust. It explains actions and thoughts without need of an elaborate explanation. Many words and actions either become redundant or, even more, take on a beautiful new meaning when looked through the glass of trust. It is also the foundation for robust relationships.

But trust does not come by itself, unlike some other characteristics. Trust has to be brought into a relationship by choice. And the only way to do it is to take risks. To become vulnerable. To give the other person a certain amount of control and power over you. If they misuse this ‘power’, get out of the relationship at double speed. If they become more watchful and cautious now that they have the power to cause harm, you know you have found a trustworthy friend. Just like, to know if a person is really humble give him/her some power and observe what they do with it.

Trust extends over both emotional and material stuff. The other day I was having a conversation with an American friend about extending monetary support to dear friends. I happened to remark that I have such and such amount extended as friendly loans. The amount was not trivial and my American friend said “I believe you would have done legal paperwork” to which I said “No”. He would not believe me. I am not against legal paperwork or the concept of keeping things clear. I look at money as a practical tool and am not too emotional about it. So, when I extended these loans I was very clear about when the money has to be returned and I do not hesitate to charge my friends a nominal interest rate (and the reason is not just profit, but also to rid them of unhealthy feeling of being obliged). The loans I had extended were significant, yet not enough to dent my total wealth if for any reason I lose every penny of these loans. I trust my friends to stick to their word and not once have I been let down (though minor disappointments have occurred). That does not mean I will never be completely let down. I am sure some day I will be, but that is a small cost to pay for the tremendous benefits that accrue from taking these risks. I am investing in my relationships just like I would invest in the stock market. And in both cases, there is a risk attached to the probability of ‘profits’. Further, if I am not cheated I win by making the relationship richer and if I am cheated then I win by getting rid of a ‘bad’ friend at the cost of a known risk. A win-win situation if you look from my perspective!

One of my most cherished and tender relationships is a friend with whom trust is complete. And our relationship is unshakable because we have already made ourselves 100% vulnerable to each other. That does not mean we share anything and everything. To the contrary, and this is what makes trust magical, we do not fear to say what we want to say. So, I can ask my friend anything without worrying too much and she can freely answer or refuse without worrying too much and vice versa. Beautiful! The inexplicable either gets explained without effort or does not need an explanation.

To summarise, the more you trust, the more adventurous you become. You do not fear from experimenting inside the relationship (because there is little or no fear of losing it), and that adds a lot of spice, eventually making the relationship tender, warm and strong.

Trusting trust is a win-win argument!


On a day like today February 13, 2010

Filed under: Ethics and Values,life,love — gurdas @ :
On a day like today

On a day like today


Note: This piece was created about 10 years ago. My apologies to people who are conspicuous by absence.


Protected: on my knees February 8, 2010

Filed under: life,love,Me — gurdas @ :

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below: