By: Abdur Rahim

Episode 2: The Rainbow

We put a man on the moon, broke the speed of sound, mapped the human genome, and pursue advancement of technologies including Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology, and Cognitive Science, but love remains a complete mystery than anything else in the human mind. The word love evokes many different emotions in people; everything from ecstasy to real pain and sorrow. How can one word be so different in meaning and feeling of love? Love appears in many contexts, such as, maternal love, familial love, romantic love, sexual love, love for fellow humans, love for religion, and love for God….to name but a few.

As we recall Plato’s words; “Every heart sings a song, incomplete”. So the word love defined by any one is incomplete. We may be far from the true definition of love but we never stop hoping and looking for the true love. Love is a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes that ranges from interpersonal affection to pleasure. It can refer to an emotion of a strong attraction and personal attachment. In English language only one word ‘love’ is used in different situations. But the Greeks tried to break it down by creating six different words for different meanings of love, such as: Eros (sexual passion of lovers where there is no control), Philia (deep rooted friendship between people), Ludus (the affection between children and young people), Agape (self-less love, to care about strangers in the world), Pragma (the love between a married couple that is deeper than just looks or the short-lived passion between two lovers, and Philautia (selfish love). These characterizations seem very pragmatic because love itself is diversified by what it means at different feelings and relationships.

Romantic love is an important component of love – the obsessive thinking about and craving for a particular person. An Indian poet puts romantic love this way: “The lane of love is narrow; there is room for only one.” What is love? Is it only a biochemical trap or psychological origin or combination of both? These are the questions need to be answered. At the outset, romantic love seems to be psychologically motivated and when loving attitude instill in mind produces the chemicals responsible for romanticism. When we are psychologically interested in another person, and if the interest becomes intense, then chemistry begins to work. But we need the psychological attitude first; prior to chemical activities. Those two essential elements, that is, psychology and biology together constitute romantic love. If psychological interest becomes weaker, chemical reactions will be weak too. Some scholars believe that romantic love was invented by European troubadours in the Middle Ages, and that people outside of Europe don’t really experience it. This is not true. Ted Fischer and William Jankowiak conducted a survey on 166 different cultures around the world. They found the evidence of romantic love in the majority of cultures. People express it in different ways, and cross-cultural and cross-language barriers do not matter for them. The expression of romantic love has been experienced by people, which varies from culture to culture, rural versus to urban, religion to religion, literacy versus non-literacy and so onii.

Science of love tells us that love is the output of our brain chemicals; falling in love is nature’s way to keep our species alive. Helen Fisher of Rutgers University in the United States has proposed three stages of love – Lust, Attraction and Attachment. She suggested that each stage is driven by different hormones and chemicals. In an interview, Dr. Fisher replied to the question on her opinion about the most important thing we have learned from so much scientific data on love. Dr. Fisher said that the most important thing that scientists have learned is that romantic love was not invented by the troubadours in 11th century France. Rather, there are love poetry from the ancient Sumerians written some 4,000 years ago, as well as evidence of romantic love in over 150 societies. She also feels that there is a deep sense of connection to people everywhere; we are all alike in some basic characters and in beautiful waysiii. The truth is, everything has beauty (either in nature or in human), but everyone don’t see it.

Personal love feeling is universal in human mind. Alfred Lord Tennyson expressed this way: “Hold it true, whatever befall, feel it when you sorrow most; it’s happier to have loved then to have love not, and happiness lost…….” Every poets expressed personal love in the same way or others. My feeling is this – behold in you, you weep inside, your face pale and tears; a beautiful thing. You make your sigh with silence passion when true love is absent. Your time begins as you find your love, her time begins as she finds you, and both begin new life. Trust never lost when love seals, and makes relationship stronger. I also think that as people are complex species and of different nature, love develops and expresses in different ways and in different forms. Love has had a very good expression for thousands of years. Whatever ways we define love, it is the principal feeling of humans. We cannot ignore love as an experience, we cannot treat it as trivial in our lives. The power of love can tell us something about our natures. Love is treated as an exciting mystery. The human brain is the best learning machine on the planet and human beings are capable of making major changes in lives. But there are some things that our brain is not likely to change anytime soon; the feeling of love. And it makes more sense to deal with these brain realities, than to argue with them or ignoring them. Love is one of the most ambiguous concept in human mind. Herbert Spencer said that mind can be understood only by observing how mind evolved, likewise one might say that love can be understood by finding out how love evolved. Is love an illusion, an emotion or a chemical reaction in the brain or what? I will try to explain.

Illusion is defined as something that looks or seems different from what it is: something that is false or not real but seems to be true or real. Beliefs, experiences and expectations by which you make meaning of love that end up perpetuating the illusion of love because those beliefs, experiences, and expectations become untrue. Love between two, a man and a woman, in a romantic relationship is just an illusion; between them love is like magic but magic is nothing but an illusion. “Romantic love is an illusion. Most of us discover this truth at the end of a love affair or else when the sweet emotions of love lead us into marriage and then turn down their flames”, said Somerset Maugham. When this is realized, we cry inside as Steve Maraboli said, “I am crying because of you; you are not worth it. I am crying because my delusion of who you were was shattered by the truth of who you are”. This is indeed an illusion; emotion of love that gives a misleading illusion of knowing the other.

 Elyane S. Youssef, a regular write in the “elephant journal”, has commented in an article (True Love: Illusion or Reality?) that true love could simply be an illusion. She has described some things that can be mistaken for love in our romantic relationships, such as, habit, attachment to habit, attention, sex, mutual interest, and the masks we wear. Precisely, habit is really the things that keeps couples together. Habits in relationships can turn into blind attachment. We may or may not know that in love relationship we seriously put greater amount of attention to our beloved one rather than giving attention to self , in a sense that love may simply be an addition to what the other person is providing. When the couples are sexually involved then they must subconsciously fearful of losing his/her partner, this is also something that relates to attachment and addiction. Sex is associated with greater amount of pleasurable emotions that leave us directly hooked up to our partner. Even the slighted feeling of pleasure of the smelling our partner’s natural scent can be an addiction. Mutual interest is important by the fact that the relationships we enter, started by acknowledging the other person’s interest rather than looking at self-interest. The reason being that, at the beginning, we tend to draw attention of her/his towards me to initiate love. We match interests after love bond takes place; this is a general love-bonding norm experienced by lovers. We always hear people say – “You know the real face of your partner only when your relationship ends.” There has been a mask which we consciously or unconsciously wear at the beginning of entering into a love relationship. This is a standard norm that majority of the couples do practice before being in love. This mask is worn in order to get the other person’s attention and keep him interested. We fear messing up or doing something wrong which might push our partner away, thus we reinforce the idea of keeping the mask on as long as it requires, said Elyane Youssef iv.   (To be continued…………………………………………..)