The great theologian and philosopher, Augustine, once defined love as: “Amo: Volo Ut Sis”. Translated from Latin, this means “I Love: I Will That You Are”. What this statement implies is that the only thing love requires is for us to just “be”; as love is about full acceptance, of ourselves and others.
We all imagined life would be a certain way but reality often defies us. We’ve all experienced pains, rejections, failures, loss, sadness, and disappointments. And we all know what it means to be really hard on ourselves, and even lose ourselves, forgetting the simple pleasures and the old ways of how we once lived. We all want to understand and make sense of this world. And we would exhaust ourselves searching for answers. Why, who, where, when, why, and why? And that’s okay because this is human nature. It is a way to control so that we feel more comfortable and safe with the unknown. This is why we like categories, numbers, groups, identities, and even words. When we define something, it somehow soothes our fears and gives us certainty, because now it has become a box, which maybe we’ll be more capable of studying and understanding – or at least “seeing”.
How love works
But that’s not how life works. That’s not how love works. When someone asks me to write an article on “steps for happiness in relationships or spirituality”, I don’t want to do that. Because there are no how-to-steps, no directions, no quick fixes. It is not a destination but a path that’s ever-changing and ever-evolving, re-shaping and re-adjusting, as the souls of our feet walk through the leafy paths. And every relationship or spiritual path has its own unique language. All of us are complex, multi-layered human beings, impossible to categorize. And as such, relationships are also complex. The closer and more intimate we become with someone, we more exposed we feel. And no matter how many years we’ve lived with someone under the same roof, we need to have the humility to accept that we don’t know everything about another person, because they too, as us, change and evolve beneath the shroud of their skin. The one answer is: don’t look at the books, look into the eyes of your partner, and understand the unique language of your relationship. Pay attention to each other; be alive to each other.
Love is a sense of being and in the being is the meaning. Love is not a thing. It’s a consciousness, faceless and undefined, always present and always feeling, yet not a feeling desired to be felt. It just is as is. Love is about the appreciation of its existence and being-ness.
I sometimes wonder if some people are more inclined to “love” temples and statues, or a Divinity in the untouched far-away sky because these are perfect and defined by straight lines; unable to “hurt” us. We are all imperfect as human beings, and we make mistakes, and unfortunately, sometimes we hurt one another. I sometimes see people who talk all about “saving the environment” and “love nature” while disrespecting the very person sitting beside them. I just think that we shouldn’t focus on finding God “up there” but rather, beyond the imperfection of all of us “down here”. Do we not see the expression of God in the eyes of the person beside us? Because love was never meant to be “perfect”, defined or categorized. Love is not there to please us or even make us happy always; it is here to challenge us, transform us and grow us; to push us beyond our own conditioned understandings, limitations and expand our perspectives, thereby expanding our consciousness. Love is here to sometimes bring us to our knees but it is always worthy.
Amo: Volo us sis
Love is what matters to us most deeply and is the answer to all the questions we didn’t even know how to ask yet. This is what we will remember at the end of this road; how much we loved and how we expressed it. Many mediums will tell you that one of the greatest regrets from those on the other side is our soul regretting we didn’t open our heart to love completely and that we didn’t value the importance of relationships; of all the times we didn’t follow our hearts, all the times we wanted to express our love but didn’t because we were afraid that it wasn’t mutual or because we’d look too sensitive or sentimental or because we’d be rejected or abandoned. But it was never about the other person anyway. It is all about us expressing our love and living intentionally.
The willing ego when it says “volo ut sis” in its highest manifestation and vibration, is not out of possession but rather to show itself capable of godly, divine love – like how God created humans and loves them without desiring them to be a specific thing. God created us only because he willed us to exist. And we willed that, too. Life is a relationship and like any other relationship, it requires mutual decision making and it requires attention.
The most important ingredient of love
Here is where the most important ingredient to love is: we need to pay attention.
A love that pays attention is a love that is alive.
Paying attention means putting down our phones, switching off the TV, and looking into each other’s eyes, unassuming that we know everything about our partner. Paying attention means seeing the fears and doubts behind our beloved’s smile after a long day of work and asking, “Tell me my love, what’s going on, how can I make your day better?” We need to have the humility to challenge our own ways and ideas, when new insights emerge and accept that we change, and to re-discover, re-learn, and re-adjust. Often times in relationships we give what we want to receive, rather than what our partner needs.
Paying attention means touching, holding, kissing, and caring for our partner not in the way we always did, but in the way, they need to, right now.
And when we pay attention, we fall in love all over again and again. This is the Art of Loving. It is our willingness to accept and hold the space for ourselves, and another person, through all of our changing shapes, forms, and perspectives; to explore one another like a painting, because there is always a new angle and a new shade that we might discover. And how beautiful it is to explore the unique changing world of another person. We can only love what we appreciate; and to appreciate takes time, effort, devotion, and acceptance.
Volo ut sis. I will that you are. I want you to be. I want every day for you. I want every moment for you. I love your mere existence in my world, in my life, as you are, as it be.
Sometimes, things don’t work out in life. Engagements, marriages, relationships, and even friendships fall apart. We continue on our individual paths and that’s okay. But getting to know another person deeply is what we will end up remembering. This is what makes life beautiful and meaningful. An end is not a failure, because that other person has helped us come closer to ourselves. Love peels us. We might feel like we are losing ourselves but actually, we are just peeling yet another layer from our bark, to uncover our true selves. Love peels layers and identities until we see our soul. Love humbles us. A relationship forces us to take a hard look at ourselves and all our judgments, limitations, and old belief systems – to let go of the false identities and masks once it all comes up on the surface for us to see ourselves clearly. Our partner brings us closer to who we truly are within. And we settle into our authenticity; into acceptance.
This is why the most vulnerable and intimate thing we can do is allow another safe space to be who they are in our presence. And that always, always starts from within ourselves and our ability to hold capacity for another.
It is a witnessing of the eyes.
It is deep listening.
It is intentional dialogues.
So what’s love? It’s everything. Build a fortress around it with trust, loyalty, and respect; protect it and nurture it. Because human hearts are fragile and we must be responsible. But they are worth everything. Because love is everything.