Among the four aspects of who you are — your body, mind, emotion and energy — people generally know emotion as the strongest force within them. This is the reason why emotion is widely used in the religious and spiritual context, and love in particular, because it creates a conducive atmosphere around you. Let us look at it technically — not in terms of good or bad, right or wrong.
Love essentially means somebody else has become far more important to you than yourself. That may be distressing — your existence is threatened. The moment you say “I love you” to somebody, you will lose all your freedom, you will lose everything that you have. You can no longer do what you want in your life; there are innumerable problems. But at the same time, it drags you in. It is a sweet poison, a very sugary poison. It is self-annihilating.
If you do not annihilate yourself, you will never know love. Some part of you must die. That something else or somebody else has to occupy that space within you that was you all this time. If you do not let this happen, there is no love, only calculation.
We have formed a variety of relationships in our lives — family, marital, business, social — a variety of relationships to serve different needs. I am not saying there is no expression of love in these relationships. There is. It should be there in everything that you do — every action can be conducted lovingly. When we are talking about love as a spiritual process, we are talking about love as a process of self-annihilation. But when we use the word “annihilation” it looks like a negative word.
When there is no love, people are rigid. But when you really love somebody, you are willing to surrender everything — your personality, your likes, your dislikes. Suddenly, when you fall in love, you are willing to twist yourself any way you need to, which is a fantastic spiritual process because you are becoming flexible, you could even attempt yoga. Love is definitely self-annihilating; that is the most beautiful part of it.
When we say “Shiva is a destroyer,” we are saying he is a compulsive lover. He destroys you; if he does not destroy you, it is not a genuine love affair. When we say “destroy you,” it does not mean destroy your home or your business or your body. When what you call “myself” is your rigid personality, and it is destroyed in the process of loving, that is self-annihilation.
Your ways of thinking and feeling, your likes and dislikes, your philosophies and ideologies melt down when you fall in love. That must happen to you; do not wait for another human being to come and do it. Just make it happen for yourself. You do not even need anybody to love. You can just love anything. If you simply, deeply create an unreasonable sense of love toward something, you will see self-annihilation will naturally happen.
Generally, what society calls “love” is a mutual benefit scheme. “You give me this, I will give you that, but if you don’t give me this, I will not give you that.” It is an arrangement. There is still some sweetness in this — mutually, both people are benefited, but it is conditional. If you get very unreasonable as to what you want from it, the other person will slowly back off. Even in your love affairs you have to be reasonable.
If you love a man, woman, child or whomever, it is not just you who gets entangled in the process of loving; the other person also gets entangled. Once the entanglement is mutual, you cannot release yourself until you grow out of it. But devotion is love unreasonable. There is no reason — it is one-sided madness. That is the beauty of loving the Divine, because you do not have to have a relationship — you can just love.
The idea of looking up and loving Krishna or Jesus is because you need not have any fear of entanglement from the other side. You love as much as you want; when you grow out of it, there is no resistance from the other side. That is the beauty of devotion. It is a very good preparation for one to become meditative. Without some sense of love in you, without some sense of self-annihilation, you cannot meditate. Some part of you has to be pulled down for you to become meditative. If you pull down the whole of what you call “myself,” you will become absolutely still and transcendent.