We all love to be loved, and have love in our lives. But, many of us think that the only way to gain love is to be loved by others. We don’t usually think about giving love to others in order to gain love. So, we wait for love to come into our lives and for others to prove that they love us.
Often, we feel that we have given love but fail to enjoy the happiness that we are yearning for in loving others. What’s more, the people we love are not deeply touched by our love. What’s missing in our love? How can we learn how to love?
My Guru, Swami Chinmayananda had written a little book back in 1968 called, “I Love You”. It is a compilation of letters in which he teaches lessons on love.
He explains that there are four qualities of true love. They hold a mirror to us, nudging us to think deeply about whether we are really loving others when we say we love them.
The four qualities of love not only show us what true love is, but also how we can cultivate love for others.
The Four Qualities of True Love
Here are the four qualities of true love.
- A sincere concern for the welfare and well-being of others.
- A deep sensitivity to the needs of others.
- A feeling of reverence towards those whom we love.
- A deep understanding of the true nature of others.
A Sincere Concern
The first quality of true love is a sincere concern for the one we love. When we love someone, we immediately become anxious and concerned for their welfare and well-being. We are willing to sacrifice our own comforts and enjoyment just to see them happy.
This is easily seen in a parent working long hours or more than one job to save enough money to put his child through school, a mother’s anxiety to keep her baby safe and healthy and a friend who is always there when you need her.
A Deep Sensitivity
The second quality of true love is a deep sensitivity to the needs of those whom we love. There is a mental attunement where we know what they need and are feeling.
Once there is this sensitivity, there is a sense of deep responsibility to fulfill the other’s needs. Our own needs or wants fade into the background.
Loving mothers, fathers, life partners, siblings, lovers and close friends who have this deep sensitivity know their loved ones feelings and needs even before they are expressed.
A Feeling Of Reverence
A feeling of reverence for those whom we love, the third quality of true love, personally brought me the greatest lesson. In “I love you”, Gurudev (how I address my Guru), explains that when respect that we feel in our intellect meets love that we feel in our heart, there arises a feeling called ‘reverence’. Reverence can be said to be “loving respect”.
We love our family members, friends and others, but are not always careful to stay respectful of their feelings. For example, as a mother, when pressed for time and many chores around the house, I have often shouted instructions to my children. Needless to say, they didn’t appreciate this at all and did what they had to do grudgingly. Gurudev points out that if we don’t show respect to the people we love, they are not moved by our love. Our love has to be demonstrated respectfully.
Another example of not showing respect is when we try to change the ones that we love. We want them to be a certain way to satisfy our own ideas of what they should be. Aside from the fact that we can’t change anyone but ourselves, trying to change another to suit us just proves we love ourselves more than we love the other person.
So, showing reverence for the one we love is truly an important quality of true love.
A Deep Understanding
A sincere concern, deep sensitivity and reverence for others cannot arise without gaining a deep understanding of them.
To understand deeply, we have to take the focus off our own selfish concerns, judgements, expectations and preconceived notions, and sincerely try to understand what the other person is about. As long as we remain overly concerned with ourselves, we cannot truly learn and understand others.
We have to learn to connect with others in a deeper way and not by gaining a superficial knowledge of them. We must come from a deeper, heart-space to firstly, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and then, accept and love them for who they are. After all, everyone can only be, and express who they are.
From a spiritual perspective, If we can go even further in understanding others and look beyond their personality characteristics, we will come to realize that underneath lies a pure, divine essence that is no different from our own divine essence.
Start With A Deep Understanding
The beauty of the four qualities of true love is that when we practice cultivating a deep understanding of the inner nature of others, the previous three qualities – reverence, deep sensitivity and sincere concern all develop naturally on their own.
Learning how to love others is a subtle art that has to be carefully practiced in our daily lives. By actively giving love, we deeply impact others, grow inwardly and gain great happiness in life.
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