Peoples of a Different World
The Bali Times, May 14, 2012
Not too long ago, I faced a situation, when for the first time, I realised that to some people love and loins are inseparable. To them, lovemaking is the only possible expression of love. They cannot think of love as anything else other than the meeting of human genitals.
I have this habit of signing my books “with love” – always. Having done that for more than a decade, I faced a situation when even that line was being questioned. Thus, I was being projected as the perfect blend of Caligula and Casanova.
Why do I Sign my books “with love”?
Or why do I close my letters, my emails, with love? Or why do I say, “I love you” to an elderly person, to a kid, a teenage, or anyone? It may be inconceivable to you that a sane mind can ever ask such questions. You may find it difficult to believe that such thing can happen. I did find it difficult too, until I began to realise, very slowly and rather painfully, that though geographically we inhibit the same planet Earth, we are actually living in different worlds, where a same word can mean differently to different peoples.
It took me some time to realise that those who were questioning me had no “love” in their vocabulary. Yes, the word “love” was missing in their dictionary. You may find it amusing; well, it is not. It is a hard fact.
The Javanese word for “love” is “trisna.” Later, the Balinese adopted the same word, too. Now, “trisna” is derived from the Sanskrit “trishna,” which has the meaning of “craving” – desiring, wanting. It can have any meaning but love. Trishna is not love. It is more of passion than love.
Trishna is an outburst of emotion. It is not love.
Our emotions are centred in our brain. A minor dysfunction of the brain can affect our emotions. We cannot express our emotions without using the brain-tool.
Love is something beyond brain and its functions. Love arises from our innermost being, the so-called antah-karana in the language of the ancients – our inner causal body.
It took me some time to realise that those who misunderstood love were actually missing the very word in their mother tongue.
Yes, love is missing in the Javanese lexicons. The Balinese, later adopted the word “asih” from the Malay “kasih” to describe a higher form of love, above the sensual “craving” type trisna. Not bad. However, generally speaking, both the Javanese and Balinese lovers still use the word “trisna” to express their love for each other.
I began to sympathise with them. Poor souls - they did not understand what love was, what love meant. A husband clings to his wife, and would do anything for her, just because she was good in bed – love. Love?
A wife accepts her notorious and rather neurotic husband, because, “in our society, a divorcee has no status.” Love. Love?
Budding youngsters with no career, no job, get married because “it is safer to have sex at home with your partner.” Love. Love?
I sympathise with them, but it does not mean I should accept them. It does not mean that I should accept their understanding of love. Given that they have no adequate word for love, but all inadequacies can be turned into adequacies.
It is wrong to glorify our inadequacy, and justify all our actions, or rather misbehaviours resulting from such.
Ancient Greeks’ Ways
Agape refers to a pure, or the ideal, type of love that differs from Eros, the passionate love, the sensual type.
And, then there is Philia, the virtuous kind that expresses itself through the acts of loyalty, equality, and etcetera. Storge, or the natural affection felt by parents for their offspring. Lastly, Xenia that expresses itself as hospitality toward guests, care for strangers, and the like.
Each of these has an equivalent in Sanskrit.
Prema (Agape), Kama (Eros), Karuna (Philia), Mamta (Storge), Karuna (Xenia), indeed, there are many more words for love in Sanskrit than any other language, ancient or modern. Rati, Asakti, Moha – these are the attachment-based love.
But, above all is: Bhakti – love turned into devotion.
It is here that love is 100 percent free of all expectations. It is the unconditional and infinite love, pure compassion. Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, the Awakened One, called it Metta, or Maitri – love that befriends all, love that cares for all, love that is ever ready to share all that it has with all.
Now, those who define love as Trishna, which is related to Eros or Kama, can never ever comprehend Bhakti. It is beyond their understanding. Therefore, it should not surprise us if these very people would conspire to crucify a Jesus, poison a Siddhartha or force a Muhammad into exile.
I sympathize with them, but I must once again repeat: I neither appreciate nor accept their inadequacy. Coin a word, use Kasih, Prema, Agape, whatever, but rise above your loins. Enjoy Eros, but know that that is not the only definition of Love. Love has many shades, many colours, and each shade, each colour, adds to its lustre, its glory and its beauty. Embrace Love in its totality, in its entirety. That is for now.
Anand Krishna is a spiritual activist and author with healing centres in Jakarta and Bali, including a new live-in ashram in Ubud (www.ubud.anandashram.asia).