Love: Moving on Or Moving in?

bushes in the pond. digital, astitva

Move on therapists are quite popular these days. Whenever there is a breakup these therapists can be found swarming around the dejected, lost lovers, advising them to move on. They say that, “Love is a river, so just move on; flow on, like a river, don’t get stuck. So what if somebody has rejected you. Maybe she doesn’t deserve you, maybe he is not worthy of your love. There are millions of lovers in the world. There must be somebody for you, your true love, your soul-mate. So just go on and on…Bury your past, forget it; that is history now. Create your future.” This is move on therapy.
Have you ever tried it? Does it work? Yes, for a while it does. It makes you feel that the hard days are over now, suffering is over, pain is cured now; so there is no use repenting, lamenting over what is lost. Now take courage and carry on. And you happily move on. But before long, the past comes back, it starts haunting you, chasing you. And the more you try to forget it, stronger it becomes. And when you move on and on, you find yourself increasingly miserable.
Why does it happen? It happens because we don’t know the right meaning of move on. Moving on for us is just a way of running away from the misery, just a trick of the mind to avoid pain. This is why it never works, because the past is never lost, it is very much there, it is chasing us. No matter how hard we try to get rid of it, its overpowering presence can be felt everywhere.
But the whole confusion comes because our language can be manipulated. Exploiting this linguistic lacuna, we have created a hypocritical, false vocabulary. It hurts to say that I am running away, it hurts to say that I am afraid of love, it offends our ego to admit that we are escapists, cowards. Therefore, just to appease this ego, we have coined this new word ‘move on’. But does it matter if you call water by some other name, say fire? Water will retain its quality, it can never become fire. Names cannot change the quality of a person or a situation or an emotion or an idea. Things are what they are. If you call a thorn a rose, it is still going to pinch you.
When you say you have moved on, have you actually moved on? Is the past really over? If yes, there is no harm in moving on. But we are in such a hurry all the time, our rush-hour is always going on, as if you were going to miss a bus. Just observe: Are you really moving on or just running away?
Once one of my acquaintances advised me that I move on. Because my beloved was no more with me, so he felt sympathetic and wanted me to move on. I asked him a simple thing: “If I moved on and the girl I moved to, I would definitely ask her if she was in love with somebody. If she said yes, I would then and there let her go. And if she said no, we could move one step ahead. Likewise she would ask me the same question, it is very obvious and natural too. “Did you have any affair?” I would say, “Yes”. “Ok. Is it over now?” I would say, “No. It is not over, I still love my beloved.” In that case would she consent to marry me? In response, my friend said, “You are very idealistic. There is no need to tell her that you are still in love with your beloved. And with time as you move on you will definitely forget the old and accept the new. The old will simply fade away and one day you will totally erase the old memory. There is no need to tell your would-be (in fact, might-be) wife the truth. By and by, you will forget everything.” But I asked him, “How can you found a relationship on a lie? Secondly, how can you guarantee that the old will fade away?” So he said that, “You are very idealistic, you should be practical.” And I told him that, “I am not idealistic, I am simply truthful.” Why did he say that I am idealistic and did not use the word truthful? For a very simple reason: If he had called me truthful, he would have to call himself false. And calling oneself false is very hurtful, very offensive. Truthful and false together make one pair as idealistic and practical do another. People choose the pair according to their own convenience, according to their own benefit. I am truthful and people call it idealism and they think that they are practical. And what goes on in the name of practicality is lying and lying and lying…Go on repressing your heart, go on running after people, then you are a very practical person. Go on amassing wealth, begging people of honour, recognition, attention, have a big bank balance, social security, political security and this is what we call practicality. And to be truthful to one’s heart, to follow one’s own inner voice is idealism.
Gandhi was a man of ideals. He valued truth above everything and had the courage to uphold it at any cost. Once it happened that a man came to Gandhi. He had shot a bird. He was holding the bird in his hand and wasn’t sure if the bird was dead. Drawn by Gandhi’s reputation for being a truthful person, he simply asked Gandhi weather the bird was alive. Gandhi could see it was alive. But if he told the hunter, he would kill the bird. So he said, “The bird is dead.” When the hunter heard this, he loosened the grip on the bird and the bird flew away. The man was stunned. He said to Gandhi, “I have always respected you as a very truthful man. This is why I came to you. But you lied to me.” Gandhi simply said, “If a lie can save somebody’s life, it is better than truth.” This is practicality. Gandhi compromised with his own image. He didn’t care whether he would be criticized as a liar. To him life of the bird was so valuable.
Then we have another example in the Mahabharat. Krishna all along tried to convince Arjun to fight, but Arjun was unwilling to kill his own kith and kin. Krishna was enlightened. He knew that body was immaterial, it was temporary, that the world was an illusion, and if the world was an illusion, then worldly justice too was equally illusory. At the same time, he knew that it was an illusion for those who are awakened. For those who are still asleep even material truth and justice mattered a lot. Moreover, Krishna was a lover. But at the same time he knew that, at times, we have to take up arms, at times we have to use force. This is practicality. Indeed, Krishna was a man of ideals, but he knew the practical side of things also. His practicality was not a trick, it was a necessity. He was not practical for his own sake, he was practical for humanity’s sake.
I am here reminded of a movie – The Book of Eli. It narrates the story of a man called Eli who has been blinded in a war. The war was a catastrophe and everything has been destroyed. Eli hears an inner voice that guides him to a place where under the rubble a copy of the Bible is buried. The voice instructs him to take out the Bible and take it to a safe place because people have burned all the copies of the Bible, blaming that the Bible was the cause of the war. The only remaining copy of the Bible is with Eli. He walks for 30 years, listening to that inner voice. At a point, he comes across some people who are after the Bible. Somehow, they find out that he has got the Bible and they are madly after it. So they try to force the Bible out of him. But he refuses and strongly resists them. His faith is unflinching. He is ready to give his own life to protect the book. There he appears very idealistic. Failing to persuade him, the scoundrels capture a girl and threaten to kill her if the Bible was not handed over to them. Eli is moved because he can see that they are mad and can actually shoot her. So he gives up the Bible. Later, the girl feels repentant because she feels that Eli had to lose the Bible because of her. Eli says, “Perhaps I had forgotten to live up to the simple message of the Bible: Do for others more than you can do for yourself.” This is true practicality. This is what we say a man has sense, a man has power to decide.
Are we practical this way? Our so-called practicality grows simply out of our fears. We are afraid to be truthful. Aren’t we trying to protect ourselves, justify ourselves, justify our false ways, justify our hypocrisy. Just a word practicality can create such a huge confusion in our life.
So we have to understand the words and their real meanings. If we don’t, we are bound to suffer. Once I attended a musical show. In fact, it was the most unmusical show! Deafening music, not voice but noise, maddening, deafening noise all around, huge speakers blaring out, intolerable noise! I could not stand it and walked out of the place to a peaceful quiet place. And there were many people who complained the next day of very severe headache. Now what do we understand by music? Music is something that calms us, that relaxes our nerves, that cools us down, soothes us. But this kind of music makes head ache, takes away sleep. Now can we blame music as such, can we say that music has given us this headache? Music hasn’t done anything. What you called music wasn’t music at all, it was just noise. We have to differentiate between noise and music. Music is essentially energetic, essentially relaxing, but that was not music at all, it was noise.
Similar confusion is found in the matters of love also. We call our lust love, we call our attachment love and then we suffer. Who is responsible? Our misunderstanding of words. Language is very important because it is the medium through which we convey things and if we aren’t sure about the real meaning, we are bound to suffer. The same confusion arises out of the word move on. Most of us have absolutely no idea what move on is. Nanak knew what move on is. He travelled 12,000 miles on foot. His spiritual journeys are called Udasis. He took several such Udasis. He would simply walk 2-3 miles everyday and move to a new place, would teach people truth, god and such matters and would again move on. He was like a river, flowing on, quenching the thirst of millions. Nanak could move on because he had moved in. This is the whole point: instead of moving on, you have to learn to move in, instead of running from one person to another, you have to dive in the Ganga of your inner-self. Then you come out afresh, redeemed, and once you have taken this dip, you for the first time know the infinite bliss that love can offer.
So remember one who has moved in alone can move on. And one who can move on this way will know no anguish. People will come to him and he will share his joy with everybody. That is the real meaning of a river.

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