Why do love and pain go together? As a Serb song says, “Zar bez suzaimaljubavi,”meaning, “Can there be love without tears?”
Here is a commentary by Hazrat Inayat Khan, the founder of Western Sufism, who lived from 1882 to 1927:
The effect of love is pain. The love that has no pain is no love. The lover who has not gone through the agonies of love is not a lover; he claims love falsely. … Rumi describes six signs of the lover: deep sigh, mild expression, moist eyes, eating little, speaking little, sleeping little, which all show the sign of pain in love.
Why does love give both the loved one and the lover a sense of unending happiness – and at the same time a feeling of deep pain and despair? What is going on?
In previous blogs and other works, I have claimed that love is the expression of total integration. When we love, we feel completely united with – we feel one with – the object of our love. That exalted happiness is caused by the feeling of being fully integrated, because integration, instead of expending energy, creates it. We feel more energized when we are integrated, when we are loving or being loved.
Love prolongs life. Hate shortens it. Look at people in love. They look radiant. Younger than their age. And look at people that hate. They look old.
Now, why do love and pain go together? The pain happens because total integration cannot be sustained. The reason is: Inevitable change. And with change, by definition, comes disintegration. With disintegration comes pain: Even if the disintegration is temporary, it hurts to feel the joy of integration fade away.
Take the following example: You are with your beloved, walking on a secluded beach at sunset. No interruptions. The two of you are one. But one cannot continue walking on a secluded beach forever. Life and work intervene. Sometimes there are unavoidable absences, and one of the lovers might feel neglected. That is when the fear sets in: Is there a threat to our unity? Is this separation forever?
The higher the rate of change, the more threat to the state of total integration that we call love, and the more yearning for love there will be. And naturally, when change is accelerated and unpredictable, the fear of disintegration is at its highest and the search for love at its most intense. In fact, it is during such periods in history, where change is disruptive and intense, that religious revivals occur and new religions are born. That is when people yearn for the eternal love of God, or Jesus, or some other guru.
Another application of the above thesis that love and change are interrelated is the sense of alienation and intense search for love in fast moving metropolises. If you want to find lonely people, desperate for love, go to any big city where the tempo of life is fast. People in large cities are more lonely and their need for intimacy and love more intense than people in small villages. Look at bumper stickers on cars in large cities. Lots of them proclaim love for something, “ I love NY,” “ I love my horse,” “ I love the Yankees,” and it is a big business selling LOVE in countries experiencing high rates of change, selling anything that gives a sense of integration.
You want to love and feel loved? Slow down.