UNIVERSAL DHARMA

Because I Care ~ THE PRICE OF LOVE

IT IS NOT HARD TO SEE that the more we love, the more we might have to suffer; separation from and loss of the object of our love is inevitable, and often followed by grief, despair, lamentation and dejection; knowing this, we can be better prepared for it, and it need not catch us off guard. Everything has a price, and love is no exception. If we want a thing, we must be prepared to pay for it, or do without.

If only we realized that life is like a game, we might engage in it with clearer awareness of the risks and possibilities involved— the risks of failure and loss, the possibilities of success and gain. At birth, we do not come with a written guarantee that we are going to live until a ripe old age; as we can see from a visit to any cemetery, some die in infancy— indeed, some are stillborn!— others in the bloom of youth, some in the prime of life, and only some when they are old. There are many possibilities that we should understand and accept when we play the game. We begin to play the game, of course— or the game begins— at the moment of conception; it is only many years later that we are able to understand it as a game with rules (unfortunately, many of us never realize this). And if we are afraid to participate in the Game, and sit still, like statues, the game will carry us onwards and sweep us away nevertheless. So we should know something of the rules or conditions of the Game of Life.

Everything changes. Deep inside, we know this to be so, and in this sense, and to this extent, we are all on the Way. But because we don’t fully understand it, we tend to resist and reject it, hoping that somehow, Change will pass us by. When things go well for us, when we are happy and fortunate, we wish them to remain so and not change; we view change then as something negative. But when things don’t go as we want, when we are sick, unhappy, or in danger, we desire change, and view it as positive. Change, however, is neither positive nor negative but simply Change, and the sooner we understand this and adapt ourselves to it, the better, as the Universal Law of Change will never adapt itself to us or our wishes. Moreover, we cannot prevent Change taking place, so should change our minds about it. Change is not our enemy, as we sometimes think; in fact, if we understand it, we may ride on its back.

Life does not always go on an incline, from good to better, as most of us would like and many of us expect; nor does it always go on a decline, from bad to worse, as lots of us appear to think; nor does it always go on a level plane, with apparently no change. Rather, life is like the ocean, never still for a moment, with waves rising and falling. Sometimes, we are on the crest of a wave, and sometimes down in the trough; sometimes, we are on the way up, and sometimes on the way down. When we are on a wave-crest, with everything going for us, we want it to remain like that, of course, but it does not and will not. Knowing this, we tell ourselves not to cling onto something that will inevitably slip through our grasp. And so, when the high passes and we begin to come down— and sometimes it happens very quickly and suddenly, as we all know— we will not feel so bad. Our lows, too, can be ameliorated by understanding and telling ourselves that it won’t last, but, like everything else, will change. Our attachment to both high and low therefore diminishes.

While we grow older, moment-by-moment, get sick, and die because of the inexorable Law of Change, it is nonetheless true that we grow, learn, and stand a chance of becoming Enlightened because of the very same Law. We do not have to remain at our present state of evolution, thank goodness! How terrible it would be if we did!

As a man, I can never experience giving birth— giving birth to ideas, yes, but not to a child. By all accounts, however, it is a painful process, yet most mothers do not stop at just one child. Isn’t it strange? Wouldn’t we think that once would be enough? The motherly instinct must be so strong to cheerfully accept the pain as the price of having the child, especially when there is no way of knowing what the child will turn out to be like.

The old song by Simon and Garfunkel— I am a Rock— puts it so:

"Don’t talk of love;
I’ve heard the word before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber
Of feelings that have died;
If I’d never loved,
I never would have cried.
I am a Rock;
I am an Island.
And a Rock feels no pain,
And an Island never cries".

Does it mean that, to avoid being hurt, we must reject love and make our hearts cold and hard, like stones? How could we do that, even if we wanted to? Love comes to us, and often there is little we can do about it. True, the love that springs up like this is often transient, but it’s real while it lasts, and few people would give it up while it’s there.

Then how? Well, like the mother giving birth, accept the pain as the price of love. It is unrealistic to imagine or wish for a life without pain; such wishing only causes more pain and disappointment. And we will feel pain and suffer in any case, whether we love or not.


"I do not seek; I find".
Pablo Picasso.

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