Last year in August, I was in Woodstock for the entire month to study with my teachers Sharon-ji and David-ji. The classes would start at 10am and end at 1pm, after which we would have a satsang to discuss certain topics, like an open forum for Q&As. One day there was someone famous in our class-- well, famous in the yoga world. It was MC Yogi, a musician who raps about yogic teachings like the yamas, the limbs of yoga, nonviolence, seeking the truth, being the change you want to see in the world etc. It was his birthday that day and he took Sharon-ji's class with us. And because it was his birthday, we sang him the maha mrtyunjaya mantra. He then put his hands together in front of his heart center, as we often do in yoga classes, and he made eye contact with each person in the room and said "I love you". It was a nice feeling, and it also confirmed my suspicions: yogis are weird. What "normal" person would tell strangers they have just met that they love them? In the safe and sacred space where we connect to each other as souls, love becomes normal. Loves becomes the default.
I wanted to share this story because in a clip I watched of Radhanath Swami, he said that the purpose of life is to love and to be loved. How beautiful. How simple. How divine. When we take in that the purpose of this life is to love and be loved, all our worries and anxieties and restlessness seem to fade into the background. Our petty disagreements seem not to matter in the big picture. Our relentless pursuit of material things seems to become irrelevant from this perspective. To love and to be loved-- an intention, a code for living with joy, the meaning of life itself.
In the book The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm, it is mentioned that if love were to include some but not all, then that is merely attachment. I think for many of us, it may start out with a feeling or a desire to protect someone and make them happy, and it could be a starting point to practice having this same affection towards more and more beings, including not only those within our immediate circle of family and friends, but also those who we may feel neutral towards, and eventually including even those whom we may perceive as being different from us or those whom we have conflicts with in some way. Love also includes the self. Whenever we say the words Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu (May all beings everywhere be happy and free), we should not forget about ourselves, that we too deserve that happiness and freedom, that we too must love ourselves. The kind of self-love we talk about is not narcissism or selfishness, for those are the complete opposite of love, those are defense mechanisms brought about by a lack of love. Self-love is acceptance. It is to love ourselves today for who we are, to love ourselves for who we once were, and to love ourselves for who we will become.
What is the meaning of life? It is a question that is big and daunting-- until we realize that the meaning of life is quite simply to love. The meaning of life is to love without condition and without exception and without discrimination. It is to love without the need to possess or control. It is to love not because we are receiving something in return but because we can, because it is our nature, because it is who we are, and so we will choose love every time.