November 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
The ancient Greek philosophers said that in order to love someone, you must first know him. True love comes out of a depth of knowledge we have for another person, and, in my opinion, this is a life-long process, as human beings are universes unto themselves. Love happens in the continual opening up to knowledge about who a human being is and what they care about. It is something that happens every time we meet one another, this is why we ask “How are you?” We are saying, I want to know you, because I care about you. I don’t want to know the “you” from last time we met, I want to know the you today, again, anew. Don’t forget in Genesis it was Adam who “knew” Eve, and that’s how it all began, with knowledge … yes, we all know what that really meant.
For this reason, I think that the quality with which we see another person is the foundation of all love. I have found that working as a journalist and filmmaker can be akin to a kind of therapy. Journalists are powerful listeners. We are in essence saying to our subjects, “You have a story to tell. I see you”. Perhaps there is no greater gift we can give another person.
Some Medieval philosophers also posited that God created the world and human beings so that the universe could become conscious of itself. I simply love this theory. It is kind of like the koan which questions, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?” To what extent does the universe exist if there is no one to be conscious of it? Does humanity make visible the beauty of the world, through our strivings to gain knowledge of it? Does humanity make nature precious, through our ability to love? Are we not in a continual relationship with life, because of our consciousness itself.
Descartes said “I think, therefore I exist.” Some spiritual teachers, such as Eckhart Tolle, have called this a “fundamental flaw” because it is actually thinking that separates us from our true nature, which arises in the absence of thought. I would say that, in the interpersonal realm, I exist not because I think, but because I am seen. In other words, I exist because you exist. I exist because you see me. And you exist because I see you. This is why we have a deep longing for connection that is built into the fabric of our biology. Our connections give us life, not only socially, but spiritually as well. Our connections make us human and whole.
At the same time, in the absence of being seen by other people (hey, it could happen), we know we exist because we have a relationship with ourselves also. This is called self-knowledge. And self knowledge is also self love!
I was lucky enough to have shared my week with a quite cute blonde who made me conscious of the sad truth that I’m not really a dog person, even though I love this cutie enormously.
Thanks for reading.