Overused, misused and abused, the word ‘love’


“Love is portrayed as a device to create a fantasy or a dream in your mind,” contemplates Kul Bhushan.


Overused, misused and abused, love has lost its meaning today. We use the word ‘love’ everywhere and all the time without thinking about what it means, what it stands for, and what it involves.

We are all so desperate for love that we keep on making false claims about it in every area of our lives. Why do we do this? What is it about love that is so important to us that we are willing to settle for fool’s gold to feel that we have got it?

Think about how many times you misuse the word in your life. For example, if you get the car of your dreams, you claim, ‘I love my car’. Does the car love you as well? If it crashes beyond repairs or gets stolen, will it miss you as you will miss it?

Love never lust

If you are dating someone for a while and the physical attraction is more than you can bear and you don’t know how to express it, what do you say? You say, ‘I love you.’ You never say, ‘I lust for you,’ even though lust is the feeling that you are experiencing. Lust comes and goes and love sounds more permanent.

We say we love our material possessions, our distant relatives that we hardly know, our jobs, our friends, our countries, our presidents, and our favourite sports stars, film stars and celebrities. Is this really love, adulation or mere attachment?

In public communication, the word ‘love’ is used all the time to sell everything. Just glance at the billboards on the main streets, the ads on television or in the print media and you see this word ‘love’, meant to express a sensitive emotion, overused until it has lost everything it stands for.

Make believe

No one really loves their cell phone or laptop, and it’s impossible to find true love by using the latest perfume or cologne. But it is marketed in this way because advertisers know that everyone is in a constant search for love. The advertisers take advantage of this vulnerability. They make you believe that if you buy their product, there is hope for love in your life.

That perhaps happens if you are seen talking on their cell phone or smell of their latest scent, then maybe, just maybe, there is a chance that you will attract someone and she/he will love you. They are ‘preparing’ you for love. So that when it comes, you will look and smell in a way that makes you worthy of the love you will receive.

A fantasy

Love is portrayed as a device to create a fantasy or a dream in your mind. Just visualise a beautiful woman in a short dress strolling on a beach with her feet getting wet from ocean spray at sunset. As the wind blows, a dark and handsome man catches the aroma of her fragrance and approaches her. With one whiff of her scent, their eyes meet and they start their love affair. And now, the name of the perfume appears at the bottom of the TV screen. Is this love or sales promotion?

In fiction and poetry, love is used constantly as the foundation for the story or the poetry by authors and poets who may or may not have experienced it. In the performing arts – music, dance, theatre, films and television – love is the basis for most of the great works.

When reading or viewing these love scenes, you are transported into the fictional world of the author, composer, director, or actor. Your thirst for love allows you to sympathise with the characters to the point that you become emotionally involved and feel that you are actually experiencing the love. In this fantasy, you are able to have a second-hand experience of love.

Unattractive millionaire

Finally, the ugliest form of false love involves misusing the word by people for personal gains or moving up in life. For example, a pretty young woman declares her love for an old, unattractive millionaire to marry him and enjoy all the luxuries with hopes that he won’t be around for too long.

A scheming relative suddenly showers love upon a dying relative to get his fortune. An employee declares his love for his boss to obtain a promotion. This form is the ugliest because it is done consciously and with a goal.

Real love

So what is true or real love? Osho answers, “Love makes no conditions, no ifs, no buts. Love never says, ‘Fulfil these requirements, then I will love you.’ Love is like breathing: when it happens, you are simply love. It does not matter who comes close to you, the sinner or the saint. Whosoever comes close to you starts feeling the vibe of love, is rejoiced. Love is unconditional giving – but only those are capable of giving who have.”
The Guest, Ch 5, Q 1

Kul Bhushan

Anand Kul Bhushan is a writer, journalist, UN media consultant and workshop/meditation leader.

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