by Michael Maciel
What is love? Does it seem crass to try to explain it? Will we lose something by taking it apart, by examining it, how it works, and what its purpose is? Or, by not understanding it, have we lost the ability to love, practicing instead a kind of vague sentimentality or unhealthy attachment? If we can agree on anything, we can agree that love is central to our lives, so wouldn’t it behoove us to know more about it?
Let’s begin with a stripped-down, unvarnished definition of love:
—Love is the reciprocal action of giving and receiving.
This definition allows us to look at love as a principle, one that can be applied at any level of the real world. You might think of it as the process of exchange, one that relies on connection, as in the completion of an electrical circuit. It is the means by which current flows. It’s not the current itself, but without connection, a current cannot exist. In this sense, love (as connection) is the source of all power, but it itself has no power. Processes enable power to flow, but a process is a state of activity, not a thing in and of itself.
Between two people, power flows when a connection is made. Both agree to maintain the connection as a way to experience the flow of life energy between them. This connection is primarily a psychic connection, which is why some say that the largest sex organ is the brain. It’s also why cynics say that love is nothing more than the mutual recognition of shared neuroses. But like love, the connection isn’t the thing itself. It’s what makes the flow of energy possible, regardless of what kind of energy. Connection is the process, not the energy.
The next important component of love is the act of receiving. The flow of psychic energy must be accepted by the one to whom it is being directed. If they don’t receive it, no connection can be made, and therefore, no energy will flow. It’s either a yes or a no, and no amount of force can make it happen. This is why in love, establishing a connection is everything. Without it, nothing is generated. I once worked at a desk in the showroom of a furniture outlet. One of the young women on the sales team was the target of the unrelenting attention of one of the young men. She had absolutely no interest in him. But over the course of several weeks, I was able to observe his slow, methodical construction of a connection between him and her. Because of her job, she couldn’t avoid him, and so he used that to his advantage by cornering her into conversations, which slowly but surely established the connection. Eventually, she went out with him. It didn’t last, of course, because he had essentially forced himself upon her. Once he achieved his goal, he was no longer interested.
In retrospect, no relationship was possible between them, because there was no reciprocity. He was the sole giver in their relationship, bombarding her with talk. He made it impossible for her to ignore him and continuously sold her on his qualifications as a partner. Her mistake was that she could not resist the attention he was giving her, even while knowing that a meaningful relationship wasn’t likely to happen. In short, he wore her down.
The real world runs on the movement of energy. Everywhere we look, we see either the transfer of energy or the potential for a transfer of energy. This is true at the molecular level, the social level, and even the weather. There is always a surplus that wants to give to a deficit and a deficit that wants to be filled. The secret to a happy fulfillment, however, relies entirely on one thing: reciprocity. Unless there is a mutual exchange that takes place without too much resistance, a viable relationship cannot be established. In other words, both sides of the equation have to benefit from the exchange. And the purpose of the exchange, regardless of which scale it occurs on, whether chemically, emotionally, socially, or meteorologically, is the creation of an expansion of the possibility for new life.
The one receiving has to see the incoming energy as the potential spark that will ignite their inner potential. There has to be a match. There has to be a feeling of lack—the awareness of unrealized potential—before the attention of another will feel attractive. This is why people who are happily involved in a committed relationship are relatively uninterested in the personal attention of others, because that circuit is closed.
Of course, there are other levels of connection besides one’s deep, inner potentials. There are superficial levels, such as ego-satisfaction and emotional needs, which is what makes emotional infidelity a real thing. And while the initial rush of energy can be titillating, these kinds of connections are usually short-lived, because once the vacuum is filled, there is nothing left to negotiate or to hope for. All the energy has been spent.
This is why there has to be more to a relationship than filling each other’s needs. There also has to be something to which the generated energy of the relationship can be directed in positive ways. This can be any number of things, such as children, family, shared interests, or a common goal. Energy always has to have something to do, or the flow stops. And it can never be to simply fill a void, because once the void is filled, there is nothing left to do. Energy is not set up to work in such a limited way. In other words, it’s in the very nature of energy to create new patterns, new circuits, in which it can both fulfill itself and to further expand its possibilities for greater fulfillment. Instead of achieving equilibrium, the primary goal of energy is to create ever-increasing levels of complexity within which it can more fully elaborate its potential field of action.
What this means is that in order for love to be love, it must be creative.
Otherwise, it’s nothing more than a static electric discharge. But then, some people are into that – they are addicted to the zap. But that’s not how the universe works. If it was, the whole thing would have petered out a long time ago. Instead, the cosmos is not only expanding, it’s accelerating as it expands. It’s speeding up! Like a living organism, it is growing.
So, if you’re religious, and you like the idea of “God is Love,” consider the full ramifications of that statement. Maybe, just maybe, God isn’t a thing, or a person, or a “power.” Maybe “God” is a process—The Process—by which everything comes into being. And if you want to bring more of God into your life, perhaps participating in The Process will do that. It’s worth a shot.