I have never fallen in love!
In my childhood, I always dreamt that it would be a love marriage for me-that too an inter-religious one (having fed on an over doze of national integration!). But as I grew, I never found that person to fall in love and ended up loving the one whom I got married to.
The closest I got to falling in love lasted only for about 15 minutes. It was during a visit to Nainital that I found this girl, who was in our own group, very attractive on account of her beauty, intelligence and soulful singing. She became close to me and we were mostly together during the long walks. But as soon as I started weaving my dreams around her, a very close friend of mine informed me that he has ‘fallen in love’ with her. He wanted to marry her and sought my opinion on the suggestion. I didn’t want to break his budding love by bringing in my own feelings. So, I decided to ‘sacrifice’ my yet unsure feelings for my friend and extended full support to him.
It is another matter that my friend, after pursuing that girl for some days, gave it up. But I hadmoved on by then and there was no question of going back into falling in love again! I had already realised that what I felt for the girl was not love but only a consideration of the possibility that she, with all her perceived positive qualities, would be a good companion to me.
I mentioned the above incident here only to demonstrate that I do not have the relevant experience for speaking on behalf of those who have fallen in love either at first sight or even in subsequent sights. So, they will simply have to excuse me for demystifying a wonderful thing as love and the value of self-mortification associated with it!
Love at first sight is even more baffling for me. At first sight, isn’t one only seeing a body? Is it merely a love for the body? Anyway, we won’t go into that aspect of love as that is beyond the scope of this post.
The word ‘Falling’ has a connotation of involuntariness attached to it. It sounds more like an accident forced by external factors, beyond one’s control. It is not a conscious decision.
Any act performed without due consideration of all relevant factors can result in either of these two outcomes- if one is really lucky, it could turn out to be a wonderful thing or if one is unlucky, it could become a nightmare. There is no reliable statistics as to what results in majority of 'falling in love' incidences. According to one’s perception on love, one tends to say that they are all failures or they are the panacea. But truth definitely must be somewhere in between!
I can foresee my readers arguing about the failures in even arranged marriages. I agree. But the purpose of this post is not to compare love vs. arranged marriages. It is only to analyse the advisability of falling in love vs. walking into love!
Even if the outcome of falling in love is 50:50, should a rational being take such chances? More so, in a society that still values the institution of marriage and expects the love to result in marriage? The stakes are so very high in a marriage. The happiness or otherwise of one’s life depends on the success of marriage, to a great extent. Even if we accept that it is becoming easier to separate from unpleasant marriages, no one really cherish the fallout of such separations either on the individuals or on the family including children.
That brings up the question- why fall in love at all? When you feel attracted to a person, why not sit back and consider all the relevant points and arrive at a rational decision? If your decision is to make that person a part of your life, in whichever form, walk into it consciously, by all means. The chance of a more rational decision is much higher in such ‘walking into love’.
If your love meets what is good for your life in its entirety, you will still end up in love. Only difference would be that it is a conscious act and you have possibly eliminated all the pitfalls associated with it. If these factors do not match, then you would agree that even if the love is strongest and sweet at that moment, it will sour as time goes by! In all likelihood you will blame yourself for having ‘fallen’ into a trap!
After walking into a relationship, even if it fails- at least you will have the consolation that you did your best, yet failed. You will not blame yourself for acting in such a hasty manner and taking an irrational decision!
This ‘falling in’ vs. ‘walking into’ is not limited to love alone. If I ask you, through which nostril you breathed in last, in all probability, you would admit that you were not aware. That is only natural. Most of our bodily actions or reactions are not controlled by our conscious mind that is aware, but the subconscious one with no awareness.
Subconscious mind takes actions, or reacts to external stimuli, based on the perceptions, prejudices and judgements (whatever name we may use) that are accumulated in it, on the basis of past experiences. It is not rational. It does not consider all the aspects of a given choice. It just reacts out of habit.
These automatic actions by sub-conscious mind, in regular bodily activities, are a boon. Think about the hassles that we would have to go through if we are to consciously activate our heart or lungs all the time. Most likely we will forget or mis-time these vital functions sometime and end up being dead! Also, it helps in emergency situations where conscious mind would not have the time to arrive at rational decisions and therefore our body will have to necessarily act as per the immediate reflexes.
However, our inherent laziness makes us surrender all our affairs to the subconscious mind. Not just regular internal bodily activities but also our reactions to the external world are left to the unconscious mind to tackle with. For example, the moment we hear a word that is recognised by the subconscious mind as an abuse, directed at us, immediately we react with hurt, anger and what not. If we only let our conscious mind to perceive the word, the intention of the person hurling that at us and the consequences of our potential reactions to that, in all probability we will just smile at that abuser and walk away thereby denying him the pleasure of having hurt us. Even if we decide that the abuse calls for a more stringent reaction so that it is not repeated, it would be a rational and conscious decision after considering the consequences.
Same is the situation with most of our interactions with outside world. By letting our subconscious mind to decide our reactions we are most likely to take irrational decisions. According to Sri Buddha (who prescribed Vipasana form of meditation to gain control over our desires and aversion (raga and dvesha) by developing an attitude of equanimity towards all sensations that our mind perceives), by training our conscious mind to take charge of our reactions to external stimuli, we can control our lives in a much better fashion!
By developing the skill of what is called ‘mindfulness’ in all our actions and reactions, we become better human beings and better decision makers. We are no more slaves of our subconscious mind and its irrationalities. We are saved from our ‘blindness’ and prejudices.
Let us all be aware of our own body, our own mind and our own surroundings. Let us learn to consciously analyse these and arrive at rational decisions. Let us not Fall into anything, whether love or murderous rage. Let us walk into all our actions with our eyes and ears wide open.
Let us be mindful of our own life! That is the only way we can ensure a better life and better society!
PS: The concepts discussed above are based on my limited understanding and logic. I don’t claim any expertise in any of the matters discussed above. Readers are advised to arrive at their own judgement. I would really appreciate if contrary views are added to this post in the form of comments.