The Secret of Giving & Receiving Love

In reflecting on my own journey, I often recall a moment from my childhood involving my mother and father. It was a revelation that shaped my understanding of love and commitment.

When I was about eight years old, my mother spoke these words as I was sitting on her bed, ‘Everyone loves your father and everyone loves me, but we do not love each other. We have decided to separate now.’ As a small child, I couldn’t even fathom that idea – my parents didn’t love each other. I was so disoriented, so brokenhearted, that I couldn’t say a word. I simply sat and cried.

My mother, shocked to see my reaction, didn’t know what to say. I got up and ran through streets, hiding in bushes, grappling with the turmoil within me. This was almost 60 years ago. I waited a few hours to see my father’s car coming down the road. After he entered, I secretly snuck in the back door. When he went into his bedroom to meet my mother and they closed the door, I secretly put my ear to the door, wanting to know what were going to discuss. My mother explained to my father what had happened and there was complete silence. Then what I heard next was completely unexpected – ‘For the sake of our children, we are going to make this work.’

Their journey wasn’t easy; they faced challenges and disagreements. Yet, they held on to a higher principle. Over the years, it was hard work for them, yet what eventually unfolded was the most united, loving relationship between two people that I had ever seen. They earned it by focusing on the higher principle. They let all the little things pass.

I remember my own guru, Srila Prabhupada, was once giving a talk at a marriage, sharing an anecdote about Mahatma Gandhi. One time, Gandhi and his wife had a serious argument. Gandhi got angry and said, ‘Get out of here!’ So his wife left and sat out on the street in front of the house for some hours. Then Gandhi returned outside.

Seeing his wife sitting there he said,

‘What are you still doing here?’

‘I have nowhere to go’ she replied.

‘All right, let’s just forget it.’

‘Yes, let’s just forget it.’

Srila Prabhupada’s words brought out a fundamental truth: When we have disagreements, if we focus on a higher purpose then we can easily, or perhaps not so easily, understand the necessity of forgetting the little things and somehow or other adjust. Just like in electronic circuits, conductors ensure that the current can flow in an effective way to fulfill the purpose of that device without overheating, without conflict between the different components. That type of circuitry is required in our relationships with each other.

Essentially, people are looking for love. Only love can give fulfillment to the heart. That flow of love, like the heart itself, pumps blood and receives blood. But if there’s plaque within the arteries, then the flow both in and out of the heart is blocked. The plaque of selfish desires, of false ego or arrogance, can block our ability to love and experience love.

The essence of yoga and spirituality, the mark of true humanity, is when we learn how to love and how to be loved. Everything we have in this world, whether it be technology, strength or our own intelligence, can be of great benefit or great danger, depending on how we use it. A knife is neither good nor bad; but its impact is determined by the one who possesses that knife. A thief will use the knife to kill someone, yet a doctor will use the same knife to save a person’s life.

Our bodies, wealth, science, technology and economics – everything is potentially destructive or constructive for the well-being of ourselves and others.

It’s all depends on what is there within our own hearts.