It’s been nine months since I wrote the article ‘Death to all but the Lovers’. The same amount of time that a child needs to form in his mother’s womb. The same amount of time that it has taken me to write this.
‘Death to all but the Lovers’ is one side of the coin. This is the flip side. Both are there, but you can never look at them at the same time.
Quite a few years ago I read in the book ‘The Art of Loving’, by Erich Fromm, the following:
Love is an activity, not a passive effect; it is a “standing in,” not a “falling for.” In the most general way, the active character of love can be described by stating that love is primarily giving, not receiving.
I would have wanted to say that myself, but I could not have expressed it better. Due credit where credit is due. And it is also the argument that I want to pick up. That Love is the effect of loving, which is an action. That Love is a conscious decision to love, not an accidental coincidence of life.
Love is the goal, walking the path towards is loving.
As this article feels to me very connected to the previous one, I cannot help but carry on the same metaphors.
I said that Allah places metaphors in creation so that we can understand things that do not pertain to this world, and that the love of between a man and a woman is one of those metaphors. A metaphor for the Love of the Divine, which is the ultimate goal of life, or at least of a life worth living. It’s a metaphor that has been widely used; it is the famous story of Layla and Majnun.
In this story Majnun is completely taken by his Love towards Layla, so much that he does not have a purpose in life if it’s not through her. Once people saw him petting a dirty and sloppy stray dog, when they asked him why he did it, he said: “Because Layla looked and smiled once at it”.
A life which has no purpose except through her. That has to be our goal, a life that has no purpose except through the Divine. That is Love. And there are people who spend their lives on that path, on forging their lives so that there is no other purpose. I have had the privilege of keeping their company throughout my life and learning a little from them.
I remember talking to one of them once, someone that it was, and still is for me, a role model of a human being. He said to me:
“How many people do you know that has achieved the goal, that has reached to the point in which their life has no other purpose, no other meaning, except through the Love of Divine?”. I kept quiet. He looked at me and said: “I have spent my entire life on this path and the fingers of one hand are too many to count them”. Then he added: “With this kind of Love between a man and a woman is the same. It is a gift. When it happens it is extraordinary, and you can only admire it”.
That is because it is not something that you acquire by your own efforts and worth, it is a gift from Him to those who He wants.
But that gift is the destination, it is the goal, and the desire for it is what keeps you on the path. The goal is Love, the path is the action of loving. The first step is knowing about it, the second desiring it, the third walking towards it.
Then this man added: “But you see, the important thing is not whether we reach or not that destination, that it is not in our hands, that is part of our Decree. The important thing is that we are on the path towards it”.
The important thing in any relationship between a man and a woman is not that you may or may not reach that kind of Love, that is part of each one’s Decree, which is unknown. But precisely because it is unknown, the crucial thing is that you desire it and you walk the path towards it. That you act upon your desire so that it might manifest.
As with everything in life, he who desires something and wants to acquire it has to make a conscious decision to work for it. If you want riches, then that is your path and you will have to work and prioritize every day. Or, in a more mundane but very in vogue example, if you want to be in a great physical shape and have a body that excels the average, you have to hit the gym every day, look what and when you eat or even when and how much you sleep. It requires effort, it requires dedication, it requires focusing on the goal and visualizing it; and then everyone works within their genetical possibilities.
There are a few people that are born in wealth. There are a few people that are born with great genes that allow them to excel physically. All of that is part of your provision, is part of what it has been decreed for you, and He gives what He wants to whoever He wants.
Love is also part of your provision. Where you are going to reach through it is already decreed, but you do not know it. Therefore, the important part is to be on the path of loving.