What is love? The word is so loaded and corrupted that I hardly like to use it. Everybody talks of love—every magazine and newspaper and every missionary talks everlastingly of love.
. . .
So to go into the question of what love is we must first free it from the encrustation of centuries, put away all ideals and ideologies of what it should or should not be. To divide anything into what should be and what is is the most deceptive way of dealing with life.
Now how am I going to find out what this flame is which we call love—not how to express it to another but what it means in itself? I will first reject what the church, what society, what my parents and friends, what every person and every book, has said about it because I want to find out for myself what it is.
Here is an enormous problem that involves the whole of mankind. There have been a thousand ways of defining it and I myself am caught in some pattern or another according to what I like or enjoy at the moment—so shouldn’t I, in order to understand it, free myself from my own inclinations and prejudices? I am confused, torn by my own desires, so I say to myself, “First clear up your own confusion. Perhaps you may be able to discover what love is through what it is not.”
. . .
The government says go and kill for the love of your country. Is that love? Religion says give up sex for the love of God. Is that love? Is love desire? Don’t say no. For most of us it is desire with pleasure, the pleasure that is derived through the senses, through sexual attachment and fulfillment.
I am not against sex, but see what is involved in it. What sex gives you momentarily is the total abandonment of yourself, then you are back again with your turmoil, so you want a repetition over and over again of that state in which there is no worry, no problem, no self.
You say you love your wife. In that love is involved sexual pleasure, the pleasure of having someone in the house to look after your children, to cook. You depend on her; she has given you her body, her emotions, her encouragement, a certain feeling of security and well-being. Then she turns away from you; she gets bored or goes off with someone else, and your whole emotional balance is destroyed, and this disturbance, which you don’t like, is called jealousy. There is pain in it, anxiety, hate and violence.
So what you are really saying is, “As long as you belong to me I love you but the moment you don’t I begin to hate you. As long as I can rely on you to satisfy my demands, sexual and otherwise, I love you, but the moment you cease to supply what I want I don’t like you.” So there is antagonism between you, there is separation, and when you feel separate from another there is no love.
But if you live with your wife without thought creating all these contradictory states, these endless quarrels in yourself, then perhaps—perhaps—you will know what love is. Then you are completely free and so is she, whereas is you depend on her for all your pleasure you are a slave to her. So when one loves there must be freedom, not only from the other but from oneself.
This belonging to another, being psychologically nourished by another, depending on another—in all this there must always be anxiety, fear, jealousy, guilt; and so long as there is fear there is no love; a mind ridden with sorrow will never know what love is; sentimentality and emotionalism have nothing whatsoever to do with love. And so love is not to do with pleasure and desire.
Love is not the product of thought, which is the past. Thought cannot possibly cultivate love. Love is not hedged about and caught in jealousy, for jealousy is of the past. Love is always active, present. It is not “I will love” or “I have loved.” If you know love you will not follow anybody. Love does not obey. When you love there is neither respect not disrespect.
Do you know what it really means to love somebody, to love without hate, without jealousy, without anger, without wanting to interfere with what he is doing or thinking, without condemning, without comparing—don’t you know what it means? Where there is love is there comparison? When you love someone with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your body, with your entire being, is there comparison? When you totally abandon yourself to that love there is not the other.
(excerpt from Freedom from the Known, in Total Freedom: The Essential Krishnamurti, p.126 ff.)