Love has three stages.
Stage 1: Loving yourself
First, you have to learn to love yourself, because only if you love yourself can you love the other. You have to love yourself so much that love starts overflowing. Perhaps that is where you are; you need the other. That is the second stage of love.
Stage 2: Loving another
Loving the other is a difficult job. Loving oneself is simple. Because the other need not fit with you, need not fulfill your expectations; the other may start power trips, ego trips, all kinds of numbers. And you will need love enough not to be dominated, not to be destroyed by the other; otherwise, the other always destroys it.
Jean-Paul Sartre is not absolutely wrong when he says the other is hell. Alone you can be silent, peaceful. With the other everything becomes difficult, everything becomes a conflict. The very presence of the other makes demands on you. You have to be very compassionate, very kind, not to get caught into an intimate enmity; otherwise the other is going to become a hell to you.
The biggest experiment
You have to be so loving that your love transforms the other, to such an extent that you can say the other is not hell. You have to be very articulate, very understanding. It is one of the greatest experiments in life. There is no other experiment, which is bigger. You have to love in such a way that slowly, slowly it changes the other person, and the other person starts dropping the effort to dominate, the effort to manipulate. It all depends on your love.
In each case, you should remember that you have taken the step. It is your experiment, and you have to be grateful to the other that he is participating in your experiment. If you want your experiment to be successful, then you have to go on loving in spite of the other, not bothering about small things.
Stage 3: Becoming a whole
Only when you can love the other person to such an extent that it becomes a transformation in him or in her, does the third stage of love arrive. Then it is not a question of two persons loving each other; then it is love, which engulfs two persons and the two persons become, in a certain deeper sense, one whole.
In India, we have the statue of Ardhanarishwar—half man, half woman. That is the third stage of love: when the man and the woman are no more two persons, they have become—half and half—into one whole. This third stage of love is, automatically, meditation.
One who can reach this stage need not do anything else for meditation; this will be his mysticism. This was the whole approach of tantra, to reach to the third stage of love; then no other religion, no other methods are needed. Love itself becomes your God, your ultimate experience.
The most difficult part of love
But the second stage is really difficult; otherwise, for thousands of years people would not have escaped into monasteries. What was the fear? Why were they trying to hide in monasteries?
The second step is really difficult, and because of the difficulty all religions have chosen to escape from life. But escaping from life is not the answer, it is simply cowardice.
Life has to be changed through understanding. And if you love, love has an alchemy of its own. If love cannot change the other person, it only means you don't know what love is; you must be misunderstanding something else for love, because love is absolutely capable of changing people. In fact, it is the only way to change.
There's no school of love
There is no place where love is being taught. There is no place where love is being nourished. That is one of the functions of the mystery school: to make your love pure, pure of ego and power and domination—just a sheer gift of joy, a delight in the being of the other person, just a sharing of all that you have, holding nothing back. Love is the greatest magic.
Way to love another
Don't be afraid of the other; let the other enter your life. I don't teach escapism. I teach you to go into the world, to transform the world, because only in that transformation will you be transformed. By escaping to the hills and to the monasteries you will miss transformation yourself. You will shrink, you will not expand. And if you cannot love a single person, how are you going to love the whole universe? And that's what prayer is—loving the whole universe.
People feel that it is easier to love the whole universe, because there seems to be no problem—the universe, the trees, the stars, the moon, the sun... they don't create any problem.
The other creates trouble because your love is not enough. If your love is overflowing, the other will be showered by it, cleansed by it. And instead of creating trouble for you, the other can become a tremendous help, a complementary part in the organic unity of your being, and can lead you to the third stage. It all depends on how much you can love.
Love gets replenished
And I don't think that one should be miserly about love. It costs nothing. And it is not a quantity, that you have loved one kilo, so now there is one kilo less. It is not a quantity. The more you love, the more you have it.
The more you give, the more the universe goes on pouring into you from all sides. There are hidden springs, just as in a well.
Love has an underground way of filling you, invisible. The only way to know is just give it and see—you are always full.
Excerpted from Osho Upanishad # 29Courtesy: Osho International Foundation www.osho.com
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