Enlightenment and Romanticism – The Myth About Romantic Love

On the topic of romantic love, the Dalai Lama has the following to say: “I think that, leaving aside how the endless pursuit of romantic love may affect our deeper spiritual growth, even from a perspective of conventional way of life, the idealization of this romantic love can be seen as an extreme. Unlike those relationships based on caring and genuine affection, this is another matter. It cannot be seen as a positive thing. It’s something that is based on fantasy, unattainable, and therefore may be a source of frustration“.

The idea of romantic love has been packaged and sold very effectively by films, novels, precious diamond manufacturers as well as the real estate, hotels and tourism industry (selling fantasy or imaginative images of couples walking hand-in-hand along a golden beach with the sun setting in the background!). This has resulted in a multiple-billion dollar industry with the lonely hearts showering their money, time and emotional well-being on chasing “a fictitious tale.”

The book goes on to ask “What is it that makes romance so appealing?” In looking at this question, one finds that Eros – romantic, passionate love – the ultimate ecstasy, is a potent cocktail of cultural, biological, and psychological ingredients. The idea of romantic love has flourished over the past two hundred years under the influence of Romanticism, a movement which has done much to shape our perception of the world. Romanticism grew up as a rejection of the previous Age of Enlightenment, with its emphasis on human reason. The new movement exalted intuition, emotion, feeling and passion… It tended toward the world of imagination of fantasy, the search of a world that is not – an idealized past or utopian future.

The Dalai Lama goes on to say “It seems clear that as a source of happiness, romance leaves a lot to be desired”. And perhaps the Dalai Lama was not far off the mark in rejecting the notion of romance as a basis for a relationship and in describing romance as merely “a fantasy… unattainable” – something not worthy of our efforts. On closer examination, perhaps he was objectively describing the nature of romance rather than providing a negative value judgement… The dictionary, which contains well over a dozen definitions of “romance” or “romantic”, is liberally peppered with phrases such as “a fictitious tale”, “an exaggeration”, “a falsehood”, “fanciful or imaginative” and so on. The ancient concept of Eros, with the underlying sense of of becoming one, of fusion with another, has taken on a new meaning. Romance has acquired an artificial quality, with flavors of fraudulence and deception, the quality that led Oscar Wilde to bleakly observe, “When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving oneself, and one always ends up deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.”

Closeness and intimacy are an important component of human happiness. There’s no doubt of this. But if one is looking for lasting satisfaction in a relationship, the foundation of that relationship must be solid. It is for this reason that the Dalai Lama encourages us to examine the underlying basis of a relationship, should we find ourselves in a relationship that is going sour.

The Dalai Lama’s approach to building a strong relationship is on the qualities of affection, compassion, and mutual respect as human beings. On the topic of marriage, he goes on to say… “I think many problems occur simply because of insufficient time to know each other. I think that if one is seeking to build a truly satisfying relationship, the best way of bringing this about is to get to know the deeper nature of the person and relate to her or him on that level, instead of merely on the basis of superficial characteristics. And in this type of relationship there is role for genuine compassion”

He defines compassion as “a state of mind that is non-violent, non-harming, and non-aggressive. It is a mental attitude based on the wish for others to be free of their suffering and is associated with a sense of commitment, responsibility, and respect towards the other“.

On the topic of “family values” the book ‘Flow’ has this to say: The current “disintegration” of the family is the result of the slow disappearance of external reasons for staying married. The increase in the marital separations is probably more affected by changes in the labor market that have increased women’s employment opportunities, and by the diffusion of labor-saving home appliances, than it is by a lessening of love or moral fiber.

There have been endless discussion about whether humans are naturally polygamous or monogamous. The issue we have to confront as individuals is not whether humans are “naturally” monogamous or not, but whether we want to be monogamous or not. And in answering that question, we need to weigh all the consequences of our volitional actions and choices. It is customary to think of marriage as the end of freedom, and some refer to their spouses as “old ball-and-chain”. The notion of family life typically implies constraints, responsibilities that interfere with one’s goals and freedom of actions. While this is true, especially when the marriage is of convenience, what we tend to forget is that these rules and obligations are no different, in principle, than those rules that constrain our behavior in other honest activities of life – be it in academics, earning a livelihood or in games.

Cicero once wrote that to be completely free one must become a slave to a set of laws. In other words, accepting limitations is liberating. For example, by making up one’s mind to invest emotional energy, exclusively in a monogamous marriage, regardless of any problems, obstacles, or more attractive options that may come along later, one is freed of the constant pressure of trying to maximize emotional returns. Having made the commitment that an old-fashioned marriage demands, and having made it willingly instead of being compelled by tradition, a person no longer needs to worry whether he or she has made the right choice, or whether the grass might be greener somewhere else. As a result a great deal of energy gets freed up for living, instead of being spent on wondering how to live.

(with book excerpts from “The Art of Happiness” by HH The Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler and “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi).

Relationship Series Part 4: Love Is Key

Key – (Adjective) of paramount or crucial importance

Love unlocks the heart. It’s the key to intimacy. There is a difference between love and infatuation. Infatuation is defined in the Oxford dictionary as, “An intense but short-lived passion or admiration for someone or something”. Love gives at the expense of itself to the one loved. It is not selfish but selfless. God is love and He gave what was precious to Him, His only begotten son to show us He loves us and how to actually express love. Loving someone is a choice whether romantic or not. There is 100% on both sides’ two whole people not perfect for love to work properly and in balance. We need to be whole emotionally, spiritually, and in our soul (mind, will, and emotions) Whole meaning all of; entire, in an unbroken or undamaged state; Healthy, as defined in the Oxford dictionary.

There are four different types of love. The highest form of is Agape; this is the way God loves us.

*Agape is unconditional love

*Storge – empathy bond; liking someone through the fondness of familiarity, family members or people who relate in familiar ways

*Phileo – friend bond; the love between friends as close as siblings in strength and duration

*Eros – erotic bond; a sense of ‘being in love’ or ‘loving’ someone, romantic love as opposed to raw sexuality

Maturity is required in loving someone, as well as the ability to forgive. 1 Corinthian 13:4-8 is the love chapter of the bible that defines what mature love does. It is how I measure whether someone loves me and when I say I love someone.

1Corinthian13:4-8 (Amplified Bible) 4 Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. 5 It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. 6 It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail].

7 Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].

8 Love never fails [it never fades nor ends].

Mature love expresses itself in give and take. Not afraid to be vulnerable. You must be willing to risk being hurt to know the bliss of true, genuine, balanced love. I am willing and have done the work to heal my soul. I will not make someone else pay for what another has done. I want to start from a clean slate. Songs of Solomon 8:4 also gives us instructions about mature love “Heed my warning: I charge you not to excite your love until it is ready. Don’t stir a fire in your heart too soon, until it is ready to be satisfied.”

As with trust, love is foundational. There is no relationship without them.

“Love is a force more formidable than any other. It is invisible-it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could.” – Barbara de Angelis