Guiding Light: What is love?

All love is beautiful and a need for human beings. The way we love can lead to our growth as a spiritual being or our downfall into someone who becomes self-centred. On Valentine's Day particularly, everyone looks for the most elusive and illusive form of love – romantic love. Poets have waxed eloquently about it. There are enough books across history, mythology and legends about great lovers, tragic lovers and ordinary lovers too.

But defining love continues to be a struggle. Last Valentine‘s Day I had written about the tyranny of unconditional love. This time let us see what healthy love is. There is love for another person when I care for the security, happiness and growth of the other person as much as my own. Only then can it be a great love. If I care more for the other person’s security than my own then it becomes a lopsided, obsessive kind of relationship. If I care for my own security and happiness more than the other person then the love is a little lacking.

Therefore, unless I care for the security, happiness and growth of both of us I cannot really say I am in love. This takes a lot of maturity. It is not easy to love another person in this manner because human beings have an element of self-interest in everything that they do. If the self-interest is enlightened enough I can include the other person equally in my self-interest. Then there can be real love.

That is why most of the time romantic love remains very elusive and eludes us – our love slips into obsession, possessiveness and getting clingy. Or one becomes self-centred and cannot care enough for the other. Unless the above definition is fulfilled one cannot really love another person. This definition of love can be applied for most relationships unless of course, they are symbiotic in nature like mother-child. This implies that the relationship is between two equals as human beings even though there may be differences in age, income, status, culture etc.

(The writer is the founder of Aarsha Vidya Foundation. You can write to him at

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