Sunday, January 17, 2010

DESIRE IS A DYSPEPTIC COBRA, ALWAYS GRUMBLING: LOVE IS A NIGHTINGALE, ALWAYS HAPPY TO SING

The pangs of love are the pangs of childbirth, always creative and rewarding; the pain of desire is like your struggle in the throes of death, life-sapping and disastrous.

(ONE MORE FOR MY SON WHO IS ON THE THRESHOLD OF LOVE)

People often wonder why a sentiment as noble as love should almost always leave such a heavy baggage of pain as it does. Pain is the direct consequence of anything done against the nature of things, of any attempt to run against the course of nature. A tree hit by a force that it was not created to withstand, a tsunami of passion resisted by its object, a stone thrown upwards to fly for ever, forgetting the laws of physics and gravity.It will fall back and disintegrate. In short, anything that goes against the laws of nature. And love is in the very nature of things. So why should it cause pain?


Pain is the emotional recording of a distortion caused in the quiet environs of a mindspace. That distortion is caused by the insistence of one object – one person – to occupy a space already occupied by another object – another person--, not necessarily by displacing it but by merging with it. That is not permitted by the laws of nature – or of physics for that matter. An accident and the pain that follows it is nothing but the attempt of two objects to be in the same space at the same time. Not done. So one or both of them will have to smash and suffer. In what generally passes for love, we tend to place the “self” where some body’s else self already is, and submerge that altogether. That is immediately resisted and rejected by the other “self”, leading to what we call “clash of egos”. It is strange that such a clash should occur at all in a sentiment that takes pride in surrendering ego. But more of that later.

Even an object moving in on an empty space causes a distortion in that space. Pain is the name we give to that distortion. But in laws of nature, as in the laws of physics, the distortion caused by the object results in gravity or pull or, in human affairs, desire or ‘love’. This distortion –and the pain thus caused – creates a vacuum around itself, and nature does not permit any vacuums. No sooner is a vacuum created than something or the other .rushes in to fill it. The rushing-in is caused by what appears to be gravity or attraction towards the object where it is in fact a fulfillment of nature’s urge to fill the vacuum. All attraction –gravity --is caused by the distortion in mindspace which the forceful presence of a magnetic persona creates around itself. Objects tend to fly in to fill that distortion – or are sucked in by the vacuum caused by that distortion.

The fact is that love never leads to pain as we know it, because love is never an attempt to submerge the other (the beloved) or occupy the other’s place in the universe by displacing or submerging it. Love is endless yielding, an infinite surrender -- the only one known in nature. Love is never the result of attraction, though it may initially appear to have been caused by it. That is where love is so different from desire even while the outer accoutrements of the two look identical.

Pain is an off spring of desire, never of love - because while love is a movement towards endless giving, desire is an equally endless and shameless movement towards ‘taking’. Love is ever pleased to be possessed; desire is nothing but a hunger for possession. Desiring a woman is no different from desiring a kingdom or a treasure of gold – well even desiring another’s clothes. Loving her is the first step towards giving up that Kingdom and the treasure of ego. ‘Giving’ never leads to pain, but giving with an expectation for a return always will. That is there is no pain greater than that of unrequited love – except if it be the death of a loved one. Love only prays for its object to be. It inspires sentiments of the noblest kind: “Khilaao phool kissi ke, kissi chaman mein raho – Jo dil ki raahon se guzri hai who bahaar ho tum.” Desire always wants its object in its grip and cries aloud when that slips out of grasp. Love needs no reciprocity; desire always does. Therefore, while love will always be happy to spread happiness, desire will always be seeking it. Love is always fulfilled because it is self-fulfilling ; desire is never fulfilled. Love is a self-assured emperor: desire is a beggar and a shameless thief. It will steal where begging won’t do. Love is the radiation of the sun – needing no excuse to illuminate its surroundings. Desire is a black-hole - sucking in everything in its range and yet craving for more. A black hole will never be filled even if the whole universe were to fall into its ravenous stomach, because it is in from one end, and out the other. Love’s bliss lies always and only in the act of loving – and begins and ends with that. The joys of desire are always a slave and begin and end with the whims of circumstance.


When you experience pain the next time you are in a relationship, put yourself through a simple test. See if that relationship is an ode to bliss , or does it resemble an outcry of pain. If it is only pain you experience in a relationship, never befool yourself that it is the pain of love. It would always be the pain of your wanting love to answer your description of it. It would always be the pain of a desire thwarted. It would always be the result of a failure of desire to masquerade as love.

But be careful. Desire is a clever impostor ; it would cry out like a child outraged, an innocence raped. That is why your desire would often resemble love – and resemble it very closely.

That said, love is no stranger to pain. The difference between the pain which love experiences and the pain which is a progeny of desire is simply this: love is content and even proud to pass through pain and transcend it, lending it meaning to enrich itself and everything else around it. Desire always rolls in its own filth, kicking its legs in vacant space and always pressing its hands against the bottomless pit that is its belly.

The pain of desire can never have any meaning. Desire is a dyspeptic cobra, fuming even at itself for its failures; love is a nightingale, happy with itself and with filling the valleys with endless songs. If its only pain you experience in a relationship, and that pain refuses to cleanse you, consider your feelings carefully and look for vipers hiding somewhere in your lap. But if it is a pain that constantly leading you towards and understanding of both pain and happiness, accept it both hands, for in the end, it will fill you with peace and enrich your soul. Others have accepted that pain before you – uncomplainingly. Some names come to mind; Jesus, Buddha, Nanak, Meera, Kabir, Mansoor. Loving is endless enriching; desire is deathless impoverishment, feeding on itself and on everything it surveys.

The pangs of love are the pangs of childbirth, always creative and fulfilling; the pain of desire is like your struggle in the throes of death, life-sapping and disastrous.

10 comments:

b&b said...

Symptoms of sintlihood in your way of thinking is more than evident in this well written piece. For an ordinary being, it will take a lot of effort to comprenend it all, let alone practice it in real life situations. Not impossible though!

harcharan bains said...

sin-tlihood? or saintlihood? well, who knows you really meant sin-tlihood.but thanks a lot. it is high praise indeed, and one i am not sure i deserve

b&b said...

correction please: i do mean "saintlihood" and you do know what i meant.

Dolly said...

Finally..!!!! somebody has described the difference b/w love and desire precisely. And your metaphor to describe it with the help of 'theory of relativity' is just amazing. I could feel the trinity of humanity, science and spirituality while reading your essay.. really nice one.. Thanks..

Rajiv said...

Caves are sunny only where you enter them. The further you walk, the labyrinths, at first twilight, grow dark. As you further tread the rocky, cavernous floor, your senses heighten, become receptive to the passing whisper of every shadow. The touch of your hand reveals to you the ancient secrets of the wet walls. As you grope the innermost caverns of your mind, they yield truths and insights. Your blog is a recording of your mumblings as you wander these alleyways. The truths are transient, the wisdom momentary. Yet in this moment they are absolute the same as the ones of any other moment will be in that moment. Time is no longer linear. The velvet darkness gently soothes over inconsistencies with its penetrating wholeness and bestows a joined pervasiveness.

I feel uneasy at the sight of your innermost. By peeping into your soul, I violate you.

The truths are for you to keep or discard or even ignore. They will always be there. They invite neither excitement of discovery nor curiosity of novelty; they are unembellished statements of existence, unconscious of their own beauty or worth. Take them for granted for they are yours to keep- whether you keep them in a drawer or on your sleeve or in your heart.

harcharan bains said...

CAVES ARE DARK AND ANCIENT, BUT A FLASH OF LIGHTENING NOW AND THEN REVEALS THEIR TRUTH. YES, RAJIV, THEY ARE SUUNY ONLY AT GATES, EXCEPT IF YOU CARRY SUNSHINE IN YOUR HEART WHILE YOU ENTER THERE.


Yes, Rajiv, truth is transient and always and only yours to keep or wear it on your sleeve. And yes, the cavers are ancient, the darker the farther you go into them. Thats what caverns are all about. They are made sunny under the fleeting flashlight of experience of the moment. Thus it has been and thus shall it ever be.

I retain in me the curiosity I first felt when I glanced athis world as an infant. Ther is nothing in tis world that you and I and all the others we know do not know already. And yet, I choose to travel back blindfold on trodden paths so I may feel the thrill of disvoering what I already know. This world is a make-believe, I have always held, and as a make-believe, it is aas exciting, as painful, as graceful and as degrading as it would be were it real. And in the absence anything more real, I flirt with the flashy and changing patterns of this make-believe. I romance its untruth and glorify its transience. For me, immortality is nothing but the pouring of the whole spacetime into a single moment- this moment. I sing odes to immortality that will die with me. I do not want immortality to outlast me. It is mine to keep, to slightly misquote you.

And what I do in the caves is self-love and self-play. There can indeed be no ove without self voe, and all the play we lose ourselves in is a self-play. Remove the self, and the stage collapses. No illusions there, except that for me, since there is nothing more tangible that exists in this world, illusions are the only reality there is.

And thanks for your wonderful insigths -- wonderful for me. I am a child and relish the play of shadows. All castles are are castles of sand, and castles are sand are therefore lovable.

harcharan bains said...

To a friend whose sunshine my caves borrowed)



I sing odes to immortality that will die with me. I do not want immortality to outlast me.


CAVES ARE DARK AND ANCIENT, BUT A FLASH OF LIGHTENING NOW AND THEN REVEALS THEIR TRUTHS. YES, RAJIV, THEY ARE SUNNY ONLY AT THE GATES, EXCEPT IF YOU CARRY SUNSHINE IN YOUR HEART WHILE YOU ENTER THERE.

Yes, Rajiv, truth is transient and always and only yours to keep or wear it on your sleeve. And yes, the cavers are ancient, the darker the farther you go into them. Thats what caverns are all about. They are made sunny under the fleeting flashlight of experience of the moment. Thus it has been and thus shall it ever be.

I retain in me the curiosity I first felt when I glanced at this world as an infant. There is nothing in this world that you and I , and all the others we know, do not know already. And yet, I choose to travel back blindfold on trodden paths so I may feel the thrill of discovering what I already know. This world is a make-believe, I have always held, and as a make-believe, it is as exciting, as painful, as graceful and as degrading as it would be were it real. And since we have known it only as a make believe, we do not even know how it would be different were it real.

I flirt with the flashy and changing patterns of this make-believe - in the absence of anything more real. I romance its untruth and glorify its transience. For me, immortality is nothing but the pouring of the whole spacetime into a single moment- this moment.

I sing odes to immortality that will die with me. I do not want immortality to outlast me. It is mine to keep, to slightly misquote you.

And what I do in the caves is self-love and self-play. There can indeed be no ove without self-love, and all the play we lose ourselves in is a self-play. Remove the self, and the stage collapses. No illusions there, except that for me, since there is nothing more tangible that exists in this world, illusions are the only reality there is.
And thanks for your wonderful insigths -- wonderful for me. I am a child and relish the play of shadows. All castles are built of sand, and as castles of sand , they are lovable.

Do not look for concrete except if you want to remain stuck in time.

Rajiv said...

My poor expression compounds the inherent inadequacy of words.

Light and revelation, discovery of lands new and revisited, flashes of inspiration in the moments which defy Time, wire in the blood- all defy the serenity of what is. An all pervasive dark soothes the homogeneous Spirit. Gentle fragrance of the half open bud does not even whisper a claim to beauty, much less clamour it. It does not seek attention or admiration. It just is- an unembellished affirmation of existence unconscious of its own beauty or attraction. This, I believe is the natural state of beings- at one with the whole, more in acceptance than in curiosity. Is it our upstart ego which craves revelations and blinding flashes of light, questions and seeks answers, asserts itself and, in the act of assertion, becomes the bubble which seeks to understand the ocean it rose from? Bright light violates the soothing pall. There is music to be felt when you close your eyes and merge the dark on either side of this body, which is but a thin layer of the darkness itself.

harcharan bains said...

"Gentle fragrance of the half open bud". Thats what our thoughts, our curiosity, our desire to clamour and our pursuit of something are. We do not exhale fragrance. We exhale our being - in a way, the bud also does the same by allowing itself to open , howsoever gently -- and our urge to give voice to whatever goes on within us is the form our exhaling takes . Therefore, I celebrate ( not that you and I have any choice) the clamour of my being as much as I celebrate " the Gentle fragrance of the half open bud." Fragrance and clamour are states of being, and neither is better than the other, nor can be.

Acceptance does not lie in doing nothing. Acceptance is doing what comes naturally. To a bud, its gentle opening. To us, our voicing of our being. I open silenetly lie a bud and roar violently like a strom -- both are natural states. And I accept and enjoy and celebrate both.

A S Rai said...

Pleasure reading through your your distinction between Love and Desire.Desire is natural as you rightly said,and there does not seem to be a way to fight it,other than transcend it.Transcend it through self questioning.
A S Rai