(E = Albert Einstein and T = Rabindranath Tagore; Dated: Between the years 1922 and 1931)
Albert Einstein, “a scientist with the head of a poet.” and Rabindranath Tagore, “a poet with the head of scientist;” both Nobel Prize winners (1921 and 1913 respectively), met and conversed with each other a few times in the 1920s. This is an excerpt from a series of conversations they might have had…in their heads…maybe? (Read Introduction Page)
A Musing on Love (and the Violence of it all)
E: Do you think that the word “love” is used frivolously today?
T: The word “love” may not be the same as what we “know” as love and furthermore what we “experience” as love.
E: So you are saying that there is a split between the epistemology of and the experience of love.
T: No, what I am saying is that people just do not know what love means.
E: So that means there is an epistemological and hermeneutic “dis-membering” of the concept.
T: More than dis-membering – I would say that there is a very deep RE-membering?
E: Dis-membering is a violent act – but, re-membering is healing because it means we are putting the pieces together again. Are we saying love is healing?
T: No, I agree with you.
E: So love is healing then as the Western canon would say. What would the Eastern canon say about love and healing?
T: In the Eastern canon, where I come from, there are arranged marriages. And there is no love in marriage. And the verb “to marry” is the antonym of the verb “to heal.”
E: So you agree that love is healing?
T: No, what I am saying is that love is rooted in violence. Every time a human, (not the supra-human), but just the human, hears the word “love”, he re-members.
E: The act of re-membering implies knowledge. Therefore, you are connecting love with knowledge on the lines of Western philosophers such as Socrates (who declared himself as a lover of wisdom) and also Plato. In that sense, then you are Western.
T: I am Rabindranath.
E: But what do people re-member when they hear love. In the Western tradition, there are people like Freud who would say that men remember their mothers and women their fathers. Is that the kind of “re-member” you talk about?
T: Yes, they do remember their mothers (not their fathers). A mother represents our first connection with “love.” Our mothers are the ones who love us unconditionally. They cater to all our whims, fancies and what we at that tender age consider our passions.
E: Socrates would say that love refers to being pleased by something that is morally right. So, our first experience of love is connected to our mothers – which would seem to be morally right to us.
T: Yes, because mothers are the ones who change our diapers and that to a child is morally right.
E: That is beautiful, what you just said. But Western thought would also connect the morally right or a God and a love of God.
T: In the Eastern tradition we have already taken care of it. We say that the Mother is just another form of God; in fact mother comes before God. So the child has no dissonance when he connects love with the “change of diapers,” and thereby associates love of the “change” to love of the “Changer” (which in this case happens to be the Mother).
E: So we are in agreement then – the East and the West.
T: Yes, changing diapers is very important and critical for human existence. It is the universal human that cries out for change.
E: And the Mother responds to this cry. This is better than physics. (pauses) But then again you said that when the “human” (not the supra-man) hears the word “love” he re-members it with violence?
T: Yes, I was coming to that. I said that people have their first experience of love with the Mother. Now, love cannot be established by just one single experience or just one encounter. In order for love to be firmly established it has to happen over a series of encounters or interactions.
E: Aren’t you then saying that novelists and film-makers that show love as happening in one single encounter are propagating un-truths?
T: No, they are simply lying.
E: I understand that the child establishes the concept of love in his or her mind through a series of encounters with the mother. But I do not see yet, how that connects love with violence?
T: How does the mother show her love for the child?
E: By giving the child whatever the child wants any time he wants – unconditionally.
T: What is that the child wants mostly?
E: To have his diapers changed?
T: With what does he fill those diapers that need to be changed?
E: With shit????
T: What is shit made of?
E: Food. Ah! You are talking of food. Talking of food always makes me hungry.
T: Yes, the child is always hungry and it is the mother who gives him food. And all civilizations – Eastern and Western – cook their food.
E: That is true. That is a declaration of the universal spirit of the human. Cook your food!
T: And as the child cries for food; he observes the mother rush to the kitchen and cook food. The child follows her into the kitchen and observes some more. Children are keen observers as my experiments in Shanti Niketan have demonstrated. They watch every move the mother makes in the kitchen. And what does the mother do?
E: She cooks. She uses raw energy (heat) to transform matter into the pure energy of love? That’s simply beautiful. Energy – Matter – Energy at the speed of love? This is the Mother of all physics.
T: No, but first she takes the vegetables or the meat. She separates. Separation is the opposite of union and union is the principle of love (not separation). The child watches the mother (he loves) separate and in his mind the child the child associates love with separation. Separate – divide – divide and conquer. This is just the first lesson. Then what does the child observe the mother do next? She cuts, grinds, dices, slices, chops the food items. The child watches with intent gaze and with his inner gaze. As the mother takes a fully formed vegetable or piece of meat and minces it into pieces in front of the child as a demonstration of her act of love! The child takes notes. Love becomes all of these – cut, grind, chop, slice, dice and mince.
E: Violent in deed!
T: And does the mother stop there? No, she does not. She looks lovingly at the little child. She even uses tender words. And then in front of that child she heats some oil – till it is scalding hot. She then throws this tender meat or vegetable into the hot steaming skillet – and she fries, boils, steams, burns, roasts, and grills.
E: And the child observes intently
T: Taking notes.
E: Taking notes in his inner mind.
T: The child thus sees this mother, who he connects with love and with the food he loves. The child observes the violent acts in the performance of cooking and preparing the food, a demonstration of love. And while watching all this, he also sees a demonstration of the violent acts and the violence that underlies the primal love of all humanity.
E: Cuts, Knives, Chops, Dices, Fries, Heats, Boils, Grills…
T: And after all this observation of violence in the kitchen, the child suddenly senses a tasty, aromatic plate of food placed in front of him – cooked exactly the way he likes it. He savours that delicious food -Consumes it. And thus consumes the idea that all love is connected to violence. In fact, love becomes the embodiment of violence (in the form of that tasty dish in front of us).
E: He RE-members!
T: Thus, every time the child hears or experiences what he thinks is love – he actually re-members it with and as violence.
E: And these violent acts are associated with love and embedded in our neural circuits. A lot of violence goes into the making of those neural circuits that light up when we hear or see or experience “love.”
T: I agree with you. Violence becomes embedded in our DNA with every meal we eat. If food nurtures us and we grow and we try to build a society around us, every edifice in that society essentially stands on the foundation of violence (embedded in our nurturance).
E: What are the implications of what you say? I shudder to imagine. Are you saying that every time we commit an act of love we are committing an act of violence?
T: Or maybe every time we commit an act of violence, deep inside, we think we are committing an act of love?
E: Who knows?
© Disciples Anonymous. A Musing on Love (and the Violence of it all). April 2013. http://www.the-essayist.org/2013/04/a-musing-on-love/
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