An excerpt from the book ‘Tantric Dating’ by Dhyan Shaida (Catherine Auman): “Romantic love prefers to be unrequited, causing a desire for someone you can’t have so bad you want to tear your heart out.”
The Invention of Romantic Love
I read a fascinating book in college called Love in the Western World that said that romantic love was invented in the 1200s by the Troubadours. You remember the Troubadours, wearing those sexy little puff pants, walking around playing lutes, singing about their Lady love? They’d elevate a woman onto a pedestal and long ceaselessly for her; the whole point of chivalrous love being that it was never consummated. It was a sexist day and age, so it was all about a man adoring a woman, and the point was to idealize the beloved but never come down to earth for love’s trials and tribulations.
What’s really fascinating, more so even than the fact that romantic love didn’t exist before that time, was that the people who invented it, the Cathars, were actually singing to God, not a woman. They were an ecstatic bhakti sort of cult, singing hymns to God in a near-sexual frenzy. They were persecuted for their beliefs and mode of worship (they were later burned alive) so they hid their passion by pretending their songs were about a woman instead of God.
So the whole notion of romantic love was a lie. It was a cover-up for a yearning that is spiritual, not a desire for a human person. It was created to point towards something that’s actually not achievable on the physical plane. Romantic love wasn’t intended to end up in what we would today consider a relationship. Instead it was about pining – the essence of romantic love is that you’re in pain longing for this perfect person who doesn’t exist and you can’t have.
We celebrate romantic love; we want romantic love; I personally love the fantasy of romantic love. Everybody has had moments of perfect romantic love, right? And how long did they last? Hours, days, you can do it for years if the person is not available. If the person has rejected you, you can fantasize about them for years. It was never meant to be anything tangible, or of the real world.
Osho once said that all your romantic love affairs will be thwarted so that you’ll keep searching for what you’re really seeking: Divine Love.
The Pain of Romantic Love is Good for You (up to a point)
Romantic love, as invented by the Troubadours, is a spiritual longing for what cannot be had here on the earth plane. The object of romantic love is not really a human being, it’s an idealized image, perhaps a fragmented memory belonging to a person we once knew. Romantic love actually prefers to be unrequited, causing a desire for someone you can’t have so bad you want to tear your heart out. You elevate the other onto a pedestal above you, and thus you are of lesser value. To really make it passionate, it helps to have been rejected. If you imagine it was because you are not good enough or deficient in some way, well, that leads to some really delicious self-flagellation.
Could there be a spiritual purpose for this? How could it be good for us? I think it’s explained by this Kahlil Gibran quote, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” This has helped me understand why I’ve had pain; why my patients have pain, and why the human race suffers so much: because when we have pain it breaks our hearts and then we have an opportunity to understand. We can begin to develop compassion for our own suffering and the suffering of others. Then Love starts becoming available, not as a fantasy “my lover looks like Brad Pitt” or some dream girl, but due to the fact that I’m becoming a loving person to my neighbours, friends, family, and loved ones. I can start looking for someone who will love me back instead of reject me and find me unworthy, leaving me feeling like pond scum.
A tantra teacher I met the other day said to me, “The heart that breaks is not the True Heart.” Wow! True Heart isn’t the egoic heart. Our little limited hearts break because we were looking for the wrong thing. We were looking for the fantasy Brad Pitt who is wealthy and fit and always does the right romantic things and drives such-and-such car and is my armpiece, impressing my friends. My ego can get all puffed up that I’m this great lover, when actually I’m not very loving at all because what I’m looking for is something to enhance my ego. That’s what gets broken so we can actually become lovers.
The egoic mindset is: in order for me to be loving, the other person has to be what my ego wants them to be. I will only be loving if the other persons is cool enough for me. I will only be loving if the other person is conventionally beautiful, or isn’t of a different body size, or isn’t an Arab or Muslim or Syrian or Jew — that’s the only way I’ll be loving. That’s what’s going on on the planet: You have to be a certain way for me to love you.
Excerpted from Tantric Dating
American-born Dhyan Shaida (Catherine Auman MA) began studying meditation and yoga in 1972, astrology in 1980, and explored many spiritual and personal growth paths. She became a sannyasin of Osho in 1985 and lived at the Osho Commune in 1999-2000, studying tantra and meditation. Her distinguished career in psychology includes work in virtually all aspects of mental health. She taught psychology and counseling at JFK University, the University of Phoenix, and The Chicago School for Professional Psychology. catherineauman.com
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The Cathar Prophecy – The lasts prophecy of the Cathars in 1244: that the Church of Love would be proclaimed in 1986