Small Work, Great Love!

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Lorna Chopra raises a dimple in her cup of coffee as she whispers: “I guess love is really blind.” I notice a mist in her eyes as I say, “No! Love is not blind, attachment is.” Lorna is still looking back wistfully at her relationship with her boyfriend. She is mentally back in Mexico as we discuss love in an after-class conversation in suburban France where I have been teaching a leadership course.

In my growing up years in India, the person from whom I had learned all about love was my own grandmother. For her love meant the joy of letting-go! Her favorite fruit was the royal mango. Yet, I had never seen her eat a single mango. She would slice delicate crimson-green mangoes with surgical precision for her visitors. She would watch with indulgent grace as gluttonous guests slurped trickling yellow juices off their fingers. Yet, she would not eat a single mango herself. One day I asked her; why? She blushed like a ripe Alfonso and sporting her toothless smile said, “My husband, when he was alive, loved to eat mangoes more than anything else. When he died I decided to give up the fruit that I could not share with him.”

Long years of silence stretched between my grandmother’s mellowed wisdom and my raw green understanding.

I learned over the years that attachment can sometimes blind you to the greater dimension of love. Letting go was not about losing but about voluntarily moving aside from the usual addictive appetites to taste the experience of freedom and joy. It is better to sometimes lose in love rather than triumph. You know why? Losing gives you a measure of your attachment to the temporary and the transient.

Like Lorna, many of us see love as an irrational force that is blind to its own follies. Love is not irrational—it goes beyond mundane reasons. Love is its own reason. You cannot define love in geometric precisions. Like we say in the world of business decisions, it is worth being approximately right than to be precisely wrong. A friend from California points out that,

While logic of reason is: 1+1=2

The logic of love is 1+1=1

When one is in love, the whole universe seems like an extension of one’s own ecstasy. Then, 1 + 1 million = 1.

Reason is linear, love is circular. Reason divides and dissects, love unites and multiplies. Reason informs while love inspires. The journey from logic to love is nothing but the journey from the head to the heart.

In the so-called rational world of business that I inhabit I have often heard several achievers say, “I succeed when I love doing what I do.” When I ask them what love essentially is, they fumble and falter. Love is the life breath of all our strivings and all our achievement. I have learned this expression from Mother Teresa whom I used to know in my Calcutta days:

Small Work with Great Love

It does not matter what you do, unless you are capable of paying deep attention to minute processes in you work, you are unlikely to achieve anything great. Small work with great love is the mantra of micro-excellence! One of the greatest Yoga teachers of India, B.K.S Iyengar, often used to exhort his disciples during the most difficult exercises: “put love into your posture.”

“Lorna”, I said, “look at love not as something you have to hold on to but as a state of attention that takes hold of you and moves you like a free flowing stream of energy.” Let’s begin to appreciate love beyond our possessive instincts. Then, I scribble on a paper napkin these few lines for her to take home:

You may catch all the petals of a rose, yet you cannot gather its beauty

You may hold all the water of the river, yet never find its flow.

You may cage a bird, yet not arrest its song.

To tell you the truth Lorna, a love story never ends. The real lover never quite loses her beloved because she never possessed him in the first place!

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