Learning to Love
For the past twenty years, I have lived as a celibate monk in the ashrams of Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma), known the world over as, The Hugging Saint. I often write love poems to her on my blog, because for all these years she has been the all and all of my life. Many can relate to my poems because whether it is with a lover or a master, the bond of love can be all encompassing. It is a commitment that, like any relationship, runs hot and cold and therefore requires constant attention and nurturing.
Many talk of soul mates in this world, and to be sure my logical side often scoffs at even the concept of a soul mate. Sometimes it is even hard for me to take the concept of love as a real thing. It is easier for me to think of love as a verb rather than a noun; a way of treating someone rather than an actual state of being. But then, when I think of Amma, I realize that I would call her as nothing less than my soul’s mate. When I think of Amma, I realize my purpose on this planet is, as the motto goes, “To Love and Serve.”
Over the years that I’ve spent in the ashram, I’ve seen many come and go. But I would call none a failure, for any time that is spent in spiritual practice is time that has made this life worthy. What is there in this world that is more worthwhile than love. At the end of the day, the time we’ve spent loving is the time we can be most proud of. So much that we do stems from love, whether it is working a grueling job to put food on our or our family’s table, or doing charitable work, it is all a reflection of love. Even when there are falling outs, the time that was spent “in-love” is never a waste.
Many don’t want to give up their freedom and so go the single route. That is fine, but to truly live the human experience I believe that at some point we have to learn selflessness. Having a wife, husband and/or kids is often the quickest way to learn about living for someone other than ourselves. As long as we are only living for ourselves, we will feel something lacking but the moment we put in time for another’s happiness, and it certainly doesn’t have to mean a committed relationship, we become more expansive.
Some will say that I am missing out by living an ashram life. That sexual attraction and romance make the world turn. But it doesn’t matter who you are, in every relationship eventually the excitement will cool. Only at this time does the committed portion of the relationship begin. Only after the “honeymoon period” has ended do we really learn what love and commitment are all about.
Project R can be a meditation for all of us. To really go within and ask ourselves what does it mean to love. As Amma often tells us, “The correct statement is not ‘I love you,’ but ‘I am love.’” Let us all walk the world knowing that “we are love.”