Love can only be known apophatically, that is, in terms of what it isn’t. Thus, love is not romance, not loyalty, not emotion, not anything we can say, point to, or believe in. Herein the humility of love. We don’t know what it is.
The problem is that we are in thrall to subordinate forces just as Adam and Eve were, and for which originating sin they were expelled from the Garden. In our case, these forces are fear and anger, both of which render us incapable of love. They are our emotions, they originate within us, but we project them onto other individuals, groups and nations. We need these others. For us to be good, someone has to be bad.
In a letter following the death from scarlet fever of his beloved five-year-old son, American transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “I chiefly grieve that I cannot grieve.” Later, in an essay, this: “The only thing grief has taught me, is how shallow it is.”
I’m always tickled when I hear the expression “hopping mad.” Of course, it has absolutely no clinical application. And one must never ask a person who is hopping mad if he’s hopping mad.
“You are the sky,” observed Pema Chodron. “Everything else—it’s just weather.” Oh, how we love to talk about the weather. And to do so with the ardency of children in a sandbox.