What is LOVE?

This could be the most pertinent and oft-asked question throughout humanity, and experts through the ages from science, philosophy, religion, art, etc. have been trying to answer this question.  Have you actually tried?

There are sayings that one does not understand love unless one has felt the emotional elation of falling in love or the despair of losing a loved one…or the physical pleasure of engaging in love or the physical pains we endure when we love.

“Love is of all passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart and the senses.”  Lao Tzu

Somehow, perception through ALL of our receptors, the mind, the emotions, and the senses (and not just as a thought) is integral to our understanding.  The broader and more numerous our experiences, the deeper would be our understanding.  The problem with perception is that it is and can only be a subjective process.  This inevitably leads to the infinite number of responses to the same question “What is LOVE?’.  Subjective perception leads to subjective understanding, which leads to many answers at best or confusion or even conflict at worst.

The challenge is to be able to approach the perceiving of something through an objective framework (through universal principles) without defining the subjective.  Only then (do I believe) the subject could begin to perceive what the object would perceive.  I believe that greater awareness is simply subjective perception becoming objective perception becoming objective understanding.

“How can one become enlightened? One can, because one is enlightened—one just has to recognize the fact.”  OSHO

Recognition is perception.  OSHO would say “Witnessing”.  Therefore, Witnessing is a process, the process of conscious perception simply in greater and higher dimensions.  In the highest dimension, the subject(ive) and object(ive) are one.  Let me go a little deeper into this process by introducing to you my framework and providing some definitions.

A Metaphysical Framework of Greater Understanding & Awareness


Conscious Perception: This is seeing, hearing, & feeling rather than merely looking, listening, & touching.  It is perception alert and aware.  It is NOT perception mired by the unconscious or subconscious.  It is difficult enough to consciously perceive what is, impossible if perception ends up what you want it to be or what you are afraid of it to be.  Perception, however, is and can only be subjective because perception can only exist in Duality (contrast): hot/cold, light/dark, bliss/sadness, love/hate, etc.

Dimensions: The easiest way to explain dimensions is through videos found on YouTube.  Please view the following videos before continuing.

1) “Imagining the 10th Dimension”

2) “Cosmos – Carl Sagan – 4th Dimension”

In my Framework, I distinguish between Greater Dimensions (X-axis) and Higher (Y-axis) Dimensions.  Based on the “Imagining the Tenth Dimension” video, the difference between the two is as follows:  The first three dimensions can be grouped as moving within “Greater Dimensions”, conscious perception in each successive dimension would allow for a broader perspective without.  On the other hand, while standing from the 4th dimensional line, the three dimensions below could be grouped as a single point or as one. Therefore, conscious perception from the 4th dimension is considered having moved to a “Higher Dimension”, allowing for deeper perspective within as it pertains to the dimensions below.

In other words, the 1st, 2nd & 3rd dimensions (and all the fractal dimensions in between) can be interchangeable, but together they exist within the higher dimensions, while the reverse order may not necessarily be true.

Let us take the example of physical beauty.  We all know that physical beauty can be influenced by personality (an extra dimension).  Furthermore, the mere acknowledgement that “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” is a step closer to a more objective perception and broader understanding of what is beautiful and what is ugly, albeit because perception remains in duality, the perception in the current dimension remains subjective.

Jumping to a higher dimension, however, one would consciously perceive BEAUTY as the flipside of MONOTONY and realize that beauty/ugly exists within DIVERSITY.  In other words, without DIVERSITY, there would be no beauty/ugly.

While I was living in Korea, people frequently asked me “Do you find Korean women more beautiful or American women?”  My reply ended up being on average, they are the same, but there are many more beautiful American women as there are many more ugly American women.  In fact, in Chinese characters, the literal translation of America is “beautiful country”.  While, the origin of this is controversial, I truly believe that America is called the beautiful country because of its diversity.

Consciously perceiving BEAUTY in a higher dimension (diversity/monotony), the subjective perception of beauty/ugly duality from lower dimensions dissipates.  You may then appreciate or even celebrate the beauty in ugly or ugly in beauty.

Witnessing: The Most Important Concept

“Witnessing is a happening, a by-product — a by-product of being total in any moment, in any situation, in any experience. Totality is the key: out of totality arises the benediction of Witnessing.” — OSHO

As illustrated in the Diagram, I define Witnessing as the process of Conscious Perception moving along greater and higher dimensions (X & Y axis)—the byproduct being the coming together of subjective aspect closer to the objective aspect (Z-axis).  The steps towards Totality (Objective) rather than Duality (Subjective) are necessary for deeper understanding and greater Awareness.  In the highest dimension, subject(ive) and object(ive) are one—everything is one.

What is LOVE? Revisited

Having defined Witnessing, let us revisit the question “What is LOVE?”

In the most universal form, everything is energy.  LOVE is energy.  In the lower dimensions, we may perceive LOVE as an emotion we feel through the dimensional line of (for instance) desire/aversion.  Imagine that you are a baby and consciously perceive LOVE as an emotion for the first time.  You would not understand what it is at that moment.  Now imagine having consciously perceived an emotion for the second time.  Based in desire/aversion duality, you may begin to understand that one emotion is more desirable than the other.  Through Witnessing in greater dimensions, you may understand better the extremes of emotions and distinguish the energy of LOVE as love & hate.

Imagine yourself now consciously perceiving LOVE in a higher dimension.  You have come to understand that your feelings–joy/sorrow, desire/aversion, peace/anger, sympathy/cruelty, hope/despair, etc.–all really stem from what you would subjectively distinguish as good or bad energy, or love and fear.  Standing from this higher dimension, good or bad becomes your subjective perception.  Love and fear becomes your new duality.  Love & hate, however, become transformed.  They no longer would be seen in duality, but in totality, as opposite sides of the same coin.  Your new understanding and awareness of love/hate becomes objective.

Now imagine still that you consciously perceive LOVE in an even higher dimension.  Whether within your dreams or meditation, you perceive LOVE existentially.  Once again, “LOVE is” or “is not” becomes your subjective perception.  Love and void become your new duality.  Yet both love/fear and love/hate are now seen in totality.  You fear because you love.  You love because you do not accept void, but love/fear is no longer considered good or bad.  It is or is not.

Conceptually, VOID could be understood as a thought or idea.  However, like LOVE, unless you are able to also consciously perceive VOID through your emotions and senses, your thinking of VOID would be just superficial.  VOID can indeed be perceived!  How?  Buddha was known to have consciously perceived all his previous lives.  Some consciously perceive the afterlife.   In meditation or dreams, you could transcend time.  Dreams have been said to be simulations of what could have been or what could be (4th thru 6th dimensions in the video).  Now your emotions can accompany you in your dreams, but your body (senses) can only exist in the lower dimensions.

However, if you dream of being in a fight, your body may actually throw a punch.  Similarly, if you Witness VOID in your dreams, perhaps by Witnessing the afterlife or prior lives, upon waking, you may conscious perceive of extreme “stillness” in your body.  Whereas your body is full of hormones and chemicals flowing during your active day, upon perceiving VOID, none of that may be flowing in your body.  The conscious perception through your senses of what is not there in your body is physically perceiving something akin to VOID (death of the body).

Remember, perception only exists in duality, and because of duality, when you perceive VOID through all receptors (your head, your heart, your body), you simultaneously perceive your existence outside of this physical world.  After that, life/death, love/fear, love/hate are no longer viewed as separate.  They are viewed in Totality.  Your understanding of them has become objective.

How do I know that?  All “enlightened” people describe the same thing.  Yet enlightenment is not a mystical state of existence that only happens to “special” persons.  Everyone is enlightened.  Few have recognized that fact because few have Witnessed that fact.

In summary, what is the path towards enlightenment?  It is the process of Witnessing.  It is the process of conscious perception through greater AND HIGHER dimensions!  That is it (I believe).  There is no mystery behind it.  Unfortunately, we have been so trained, indoctrinated, manipulated to perceive in such narrow ways that we are blind to higher dimensional perception.  But once Witnessing happens, your world would change–be enriched.

The most successful people have made the right choices that involve a best fit between themselves and others.  The same applies to realizing success in love relationships.  But how do you define best fit?  I mean isn’t love illogical and impossible to understand?  I believe that everyone processes love in different ways, but the key ingredients and dynamics of a successful love relationship are the same and can be defined.  Devotion is the most important and necessary condition.  Compatibility helps to determine the potential strength and intensity of the bond. 

Psychology research is advancing our understanding of compatibility.  Together with advances in technology, internet, and social networking, the Matchmaking industry, undergoing a sort of renaissance, is trying best to answer the questions, “How do you define best-fit?” and subsequently “How do you find the best-fit partner?”  

In “The Love Compatibility Book”, Edward Hoffman, Ph.D. and Marcella Bakur Weiner, Ph.D. describe twelve personality traits that can lead you to your soul mate.  They are:

1.       Need for Companionship                 7. Materialism

2.       Idealism                                                  8. Extroversion

3.       Emotional Intensity                           9. Aestheticism

4.       Spontaneity                                          10. Activity Level

5.       Libido                                                     11. Subjective Well-being

6.       Nurturance                                          12. Intellectualism

 They explain that the closer or similar two people score on each of these “innate” personality traits, in particular in four traits that each individual values the most, the more compatible those two people would be in a loving relationship. 

The book provides valuable insights.  In fact, my wife and I utilized them to improve our marriage and to understand who we are, in what traits we find or do not find affinity and whether that is important or not.  Yet, from my own experience, compatibility alone does not adequately illustrate the love relationship in its entirety.  Devotion is the most important and necessary condition.  What do I mean by Devotion?  Let me first introduce my own holistic model on love relationship, as illustrated below. 

I believe all human beings need spiritual growth.  The soul needs to grow, and food for the soul is gathered through the body, mind, and heart centers while connecting and interacting with others.  The love relationship could be the greatest source of spiritual energy.  Of course not all food is nourishing.  Love is nourishing, but when Fear sets in, Ego asserts itself to protect the well-being of the whole.

For love relationship to endure, I believe the Soul first has to have matured to a certain level–at least the Soul has to be bigger than the Ego.  There are two reasons why this has to be the case.  One, your Soul is your true self, the Ego the false self.  Choices and actions, however big or small, made by the false self often lead to unhappy outcomes, because what Soul wants differs greatly from what Ego wants.  If you are not happy, your partner is not going to be happy.  Two, the Ego is comfortable in a master/servant relationship.  The Ego competes, controls and dominates, irrespective of whether it is in a master or servant position.  If your Ego selects your partner, chances are very high that the relationship would be empty at best, destructive at its worst.  A love relationship needs to be between two Souls cooperating.  Both need to be “servants”, so to speak, devoted to providing for each other’s spiritual growth.  Even here, the maturity level of each partner’s Soul should be similar.  A nearly-enlightened Soul and an infant Soul cannot mutually provide for each other’s growth, in the spiritual sense.

Spiritual growth is crucial.  As individuals, however, we focus on our own need for spiritual growth.  As loving partners, our focus should turn to our partner’s spiritual needs.  I consider this to be Devotion.  Devotion is when one partner surrenders their Soul and Ego and enters into the partner’s body to sense their pain or pleasure, into the partner’s mind to understand how and what they think, and into the partner’s heart to feel their joy and vulnerability.  Devotion is Love, focused, intended.  Through Devotion you are energizing your partner’s Soul, but at the same time gaining greater awareness of your own Soul, and ultimately becoming one.  Therefore, Devotion is tantra—a spiritual technique or process.  Mutual Devotion creates a virtuous circle to sustain a loving relationship.  Without it, I believe the relationship would ultimately fade.

Devotion alone is enough.  Compatibility, however, makes it much easier for the virtuous circle of Devotion to take hold, and determines the potential strength of the connection and the intensity of the exchange.  Two Souls connect through the body, mind, and heart centers.  In “The Love Compatibility Book”, I believe the authors were trying to measure the potential intensity between two people in a relationship by defining twelve personality traits through which individuals feel affinity.  In my holistic view, I like to think that “Need for Companionship”, “Emotional Intensity” and “Nurturance” involve the Heart Center.  “Idealism”, “Aestheticism”, “Extroversion”, and “Intellectualism” involve the Mind Center.  “Libido”, “Materialism”, “Activity Level” and “Spontaneity” involve the Body Center.  Finally, I disagree with the authors on “Subjective Well-Being” as being an innate personality trait.

Let me give an example of a compatible couple.  Each loves to go out and socialize, try new experiences, love the challenges of running their own company, and appreciates the finer things in life.  As a couple, they would probably score very similar in “Spontaneity”, “Extroversion”, “Materialism”, and “Activity Level”.  I would say that they are strongly body and mind-oriented and thus connected in these centers and less so in the heart center.  They would probably view each other as great companions to start and through Devotion, their love relationship would grow more intense as the heart center connection strengthens.  This is compatibility of “Similars”.

Another example would be a couple where one person is active, has a high libido, loves to socialize yet also strongly desires companionship and a strong emotional bond.  The other is warm and nurturing and has close relationships with family and friends, yet is introverted and strongly desires a more active and “exciting” lifestyle.  I would say that this couple too is highly compatible, but this compatibility is of “Opposites”.  Each partner’s body, mind, or heart center’s strengths complement the other’s weaknesses.   Neither of them have strong Ego issues, but somehow they were not able to develop one or more of their centers as much as they would like.

In summary, I have tried to define a successful, loving relationship considering both spiritual and psychological factors using my holistic model.  Devotion is a necessary condition.  Compatibility helps.  Psychology has developed methods to measure compatibility.  Whether these methods are effective is another argument.  Yet, how do you measure Devotion?  Isn’t Devotion just the willingness of the partner to put in the effort towards building a loving relationship?

I believe Devotion is an innate desire and capability of the Soul, but fear and Ego obstruct this.  One way of measuring Devotion (or lack thereof) is to measure the Ego.  Psychological tests can do this.  Anyone can do this by measuring the prevalence of hypocrisy.   If we look back at my holistic model, the center of every being is Soul – Ego.  Where Ego dominates, the relationship can last, but cannot be successful or fulfilling.  There are ways to reduce the Ego.  Meditation is one method.  Where Soul dominates, Devotion can be taught, coached, or learned through one’s own experiences.  Compatibility helps Devotion take hold because it is much easier to see through the partner’s eyes if they are similar to yours, your actual or ideal self.

Listlessly walking along the shore, it was dark but the dispersed reflections from the water of moonlight. I could make out a stream that flowed from my right and a faint path that was absorbed into a forest of black. I could only sense my way but the other side bewildered me, an impressionistic vision, brush strokes of shades of brown and grey. I saw an expanse of sand and dirt with huge stone shapes scattered everywhere. Countless bodily shapes of smoke and fog moving but not in motion. I drew near a stone with what appeared to be written. Turning my head to each side I became engulfed with Void, pure Emptiness.
I had this dream a few years ago, it took me a while then to understand what I had sensed in that dream. It was the state of my soul. My dream was a vision of what my afterlife could be at that moment in time. The stones were burial sites and bodily shapes other souls, all listless with no interaction in space/time of Emptiness.  I was one of them in my dream.
In fact, at that time my life was indeed empty. I was at the top of my career in trading, taking in a lot of money.  I had a seemingly great life, but I was not happy.  I was missing the only thing I have ever wanted ever since I could remember.  I wanted a deep loving relationship, the kind that stirs your soul.  For twelve years I tried and tried to have that with my wife.  She is beautiful, kind, and loving, but was unwilling to engage fully with me.
After the Dream, I started the Journey to spiritual growth, and the state of my soul is much better now. How do I know this?  Well, I had another out-of-body dream recently.  I died from a knife attack.  Yeah, disturbing, right?  But I felt calm standing over my body.  My wife and I are also on the path to having that deep, loving relationship I always wanted.  Finally! after 15 years.  I hope to share my observations and commentaries along this Journey, past, present and perhaps what may yet be ahead.