Our social conditioning being what it is, the most prevalent understanding of love’s expression is that of romantic love. Due to the interplay of hormones , two people who barely know each other profess eternal undying love for one another. When things turn sour or boring after some time, both start seeing the endless flaws in each other. That is just nature using a biological mechanism to fulfil its purpose of procreation. The fact that there are intense emotions created, tough lessons learnt and sometimes lives destroyed is acceptable collateral damage.
We all see love as a happening between two people. Our experience of love has always been that of something which is born as a result of separation. I am arguing here that there can never be love where there is separation. When there is separation there can only be attachment or dependency. Only a business of give and take can happen when there is separation. Love is spontaneous outpouring of an emotion which can only come when the other is not separate from self. An intellectual understanding that we are all part of the same whole and actually experiencing this are two entirely different things. That is why in the kinds of love that exist among human beings, the love of a mother for her child is among the closest to the genuine expression because the mother has literally experienced the child as a part of herself.
A parent’s love for a child is a higher expression but it is still not the ultimate. Biological programming implies that we will feel a strong sense of attachment to our offspring. Deep down though even this form of love is conditional as there is a give and take involved in this relationship. Even the most noble of parents have expectations of their children. They want their children to live a particular type of life, marry someone of their choice and be a support for them in their old age. There is nothing wrong with these things and they are make absolute pragmatic sense. However a genuine expression of love is beyond pragmatic sense and conditions. Where there are conditions there can be only be contracts & obligations.
What is true love then? In my experience the highest manifestation of love among human beings is that of a Guru for his disciples. The disciples cannot give anything to the Guru except possibly their ego. Yet the Guru showers grace on the most unworthy of his disciples leading them out from their limited self. A Guru’s compassion can melt the most stone hearted amongst us. The old adage that true love can transform someone is absolutely true in this case.