Love is … what?

That’s as far as I usually get when I try to write about love. This should be simple shouldn’t it? Love is supposed to be boy meets girl, they fall in love, get married and live happily ever after, right? Well, that is, until the way he squeezes the toothpaste in the middle of the tube instead of from the end, the “right way,” gets under her fingernails. Or the bombs bursting in air passions that glued them together have come unglued because he doesn’t live up to the full potential she sees in him. Or she, like a ’60s Jaguar, runs good only two weeks out of the month and the rest of the time runs rough, bucks, misses and stalls. So why then do we try so hard to find someone to love, someone who will love us back and make us feel complete?

Perhaps love is just some psycho babble theory the thinking mind (the ego) has conjured up that deludes us into thinking that someone else can make us feel complete and better about who we are; maybe even take away our pain, and fear. But it’s all just a trick, an illusion and that is why love, as we understand it, is not working.

According to national statistics gathered by the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology, first marriages have a divorce rate of 50 percent, second marriages a rate of 67 percent, and third marriages a rate of 74 percent. Divorce rate percentages vary a few points plus or minus depending on the source but clearly the data indicates an alarmingly high incidence of relationship failure and that data does not even address the relationships that fail before marriage. What is happening?

I believe we have allowed the thinking mind to imprison us inside psychological time. Psychological time is a measurement we have created to mark human progress, quantifying past and future. No other animal species, or plants for that matter, need time to exist; they just exist. If a tree were capable of having a conversation with a human and that human asked the tree what time it was, the tree would likely reply, why … it is now. If you asked the tree where it was, that tree would likely reply, I am here. Time outside of the thinking mind has no relevance. There is only here and now.

Love is just another construct, an illusion of the thinking mind trapping us in psychological time by keeping our thoughts focused in the past, reliving great moments or intense hurts while hoping and looking ahead to a future that is brighter. This illusion is preferred by the thinking mind over the present moment, the now, because in the now, time has no relevance and does not exist.

But love is not a progression of thought. Love cannot be thought into being. Love can only be experienced and conveyed as feeling. If we draw our understanding of love from the store of human experience, with all its pain and disappointment, it becomes understandable why we remain bound in time, hoping for a future where love can heal us and complete our lives. But that is not love … that is need. And need manifests in many ways.

There is the biological component, the attraction between male and female resulting in a coupling that fulfills our genetic mission to propagate the species. When we first meet, we are attracted to someone because we sense a potential mate. We play the ritual games, and we dance the dance of love. We’re euphoric, even giddy, and soon we can’t imagine being without the source of this happiness, this energy. Until one day the energy changes and it ceases to meet our needs. We try then to control the energy, we try to hold on to it with all of our might. We place conditions on love. We withhold our love. We are right and … they are wrong. And those we claim to love become the source of our pain. We make them responsible for our pain simply because they no longer serve our need. Love then becomes conditional and people remain bound by fear, promise, obligation, addiction, financial need and many other things. When those things are no longer enough to hold love together, relationships die. And this is the flaw in the process of the thinking mind.

The thinking mind is concerned with its own survival. That is its only care, so it keeps us distracted, keeps us from understanding that being complete, whole and loved is our natural state, requiring nothing from us. We are already everything we need to be. In the now, the thinking mind becomes what it was designed to be, a tool that helps us with the functional decisions and problem solving requirements of our human lives.

It takes most of us a long time to understand that now is all we have. And beyond that understanding, living in the now takes practice. Don’t get frustrated; it’s OK! Husbands, wives, children and the other people in our lives are the teachers we have chosen to clarify the lessons we need. Pay attention to the teachers in your life, and remember — everything we need, we already have. Peace.