Tag Archives: romantic love

valentine’s day, yes and no

man and woman embracingcontrary to some ideas that have been floating around that valentine’s day is an invention of hallmark’s, valentine’s day has been around for a long time.  valentine’s day is a day of fertility, of the first stirrings of spring rising up, the seeds waking up, ready to sprout with the first warmth of the sun. it’s fertility for humans, too – and what is that all about? this fertility and love get lumped together – and why? is that what love is all about? in my (sometimes) wise old age i can’t say anymore that love is about romantic love, or at least the official version of romantic love: alex meets chris, they spark, their bodies and hearts yearn for each other, and the cumulation of it is a french kiss under the moonlight.

(sidebar: there is a theory that romantic love is an invention of the western medieval world. i am not a social historian but i find that difficult to believe. perhaps the way the stories of romantic love are told is a relatively new invention but it seems ludicrous to me to assert that the stirring of hormones did not produce romance, or something like it, among couples the world over since time immemorial. just look at the bible, the gilgamesh epic or the bhagavad gita.)

so if we look beyond that, what do we find? one thing that valentine’s day as a fertility rite makes me think of is the attraction of opposites that brings forth new life.

there is the obvious of man and woman coming together to create a child.

what else is there?

a pair of opposites i’ve been musing about lately is “yes” and “no”. if we use traditional symbology, we could see “yes” as the female principle and “no” as the male.

what happens when yes and no come together?

for one thing, they balance each other out. “yes” only is without boundaries: the mother – all-loving but also devouring; all-allowing but also surrendering to the point of obliteration.

“no” only is hard, small and single-minded: the father – guiding but also all-demanding; all-protecting but also exclusively jealous. (and yes, i am aware how limited these descriptions are; there are many more layers.)

what else happens when “yes” and “no” come together? what child might they bring forth? the nodding, embracing, resplendently smiling “yes” coupling with the boundary setting, individuating, protecting “no”, embracing, entwining …

contemplating this, i see movement, the movement of the “yes”, bounded by the “no”. “yes” wants to expand forever, “no” says, wait a sec, let’s not go into the dangerous jungle, let’s stay on the road.

and then these ideas arise: indecision, doubt, uncertainty; the words “maybe” (which garfield suggested) and “perhaps”. are they the children of the union of “yes” and “no”?

if so, this young child has so many possibilities, as every child does. indecision could mean wishy-washiness, or it could mean the wisdom of not rushing into rash decisions. doubt could mean mistrust but it could also mean healthy, awake scepticism. uncertainty could mean unsteadiness and it could also mean a comfortable awareness of the fact that nothing in life is ever certain, that life is in, and is a constant flux.

my personal hope is that this is a child of love, that “yes” and “no” find each other with their eyes open and embrace each other not only in the heat of spring passion, but also by – saying “yes” to each other, by seeing, calling forth and enhancing the goodness that each offers.

what would you wish for this child?

what polar opposites would you like to come together?

image by nick thompson

cats, sanskrit, and 9 kinds of love – or was it 96?

admiring a catfirst thing this morning, i opened the kitchen door and let rum in, our cat. i bent down, stroked her thick gray fur, and told her how beautiful she was. i love rum. this love is tinged with admiration. we call her our zen cat; she is one of the most even-tempered creatures (humans or animals) i have ever met. it is a love, too, nurtured by the gifts she gives us – the healing sounds of her purring, just to name one.  many ingredients go into this love for our cat.

there is a claim that sanskrit has 96 words for love. i am hoping for some experts to confirm whether that is correct. suffice it to say – and the word “suffice” is a bit ironic in this context – that when i entered the word “love” into a sanskrit dictionary, i received close to 1,200 entries that are related in one way or another to the concept of love. (concept? feeling? experience?) 93 of them start with “A”. not all of them are words for either the verb or noun “love” – but below are some interesting ones. before i give them to you – 16 in all, 16 words of love – i thought i’d categorize for you the concepts associated with “love” (only as found in the letter “A”, mind you!). now we’re down to 9 kinds of love. quite fascinating:

  1. desire, passion and consuming love – “to melt with love”
  2. affection – “love of one’s own children”
  3. love as suffering – “to be ruined” (by love, i presume)
  4. comforting love – “to coax, soothe”
  5. brotherly love, compassion and kindness – “showing tender love towards the followers of jainism and settling them firmly in their religion”
  6. love as expansion – “to swell, increase”
  7. romantic / sexual love – “love, as a mental experience of lovers”
  8. lonely love – “suppressed (lit. inward) love”
  9. devotion

haven’t found anything on love of pets yet.

here are the actual words:

abhihary to wish anything to be near, call it near; to like , love

aintiNai 1. love between man and woman as manifested in five situations pertaining to the five tracts of land; 2. the five tracts of land

akagkaram self-love, egotism

akappuRapperuntiNai love between unequals

akattiNai love, as a mental experience of lovers

aLi 1. love; 2. clemency, grace; 3. desire; 4. coolness; 5. gift, present; 6. civility politeness; 7. poverty, wretchedness; 8. unripe fruit

ANam 1. love, friendship, affection; 2. support; 3. vessel

antarmanmatha suppressed (lit. inward) love

anurakti affection , love , devotion

anurudh to bar (as a way); to surround , confine , overcome, to adhere to , be fond of , love ; to coax , soothe, entreat

apahnava concealment , denial of or turning off of the truth ; dissimulation , appeasing , satisfying; affection , love

apatyasneha love of one’s own children

arAkam 1. melody-type; 2. a secondary melody-type of the pa1lai class; 3. a melody-type à takkarAkam ; 4. passion, love, vehement desire; 5. redness

aRattuvaccaLam showing tender love towards the followers of jainism and settling them firmly in their religion

Ataram 1. regard, love, affection, kindness, respect; 2. desire; 3. honour, hospitality

azi-tal 1. to perish, to be ruined; 2. to decay, to be mutilated; 3. to fail, to be frustrated; 4. to become unsettled, to lose standing; 5. to be defeated; 6. to melt with love; 7. to suffer, to be troubled; 8. to be disheartened; 9. to swell, increase; 10. to sympathise with; 11. to be spent, used up, sold out, exhausted

(refer to the dictionary for the meaning of mid-word capitalization and other information on pronunciation).

the image, in a big public gallery (“alte pinakothek”) in my home town, munich, comes from miscpix