Love is Religion, Love is a Drug…
To love or help family is an obligation, to love or help friends is a pleasure, to love or help your partner is reproduction, but to love and help complete and total strangers is religion. Accepting a certain risk for no uncertain reward is the fruit of forgiveness and the essence of religion, participating in the universality of truth, beauty and goodness and propagating its continued existence and florescence. The only reward is itself. Everything else is business, politics. Everything else is trivial.
Love is not the only worthwhile activity to engage in here in this world, but almost. Doesn’t almost every other worthwhile activity ultimately come down (up) to love, e.g. faith, hope and charity? Trust is another matter. Trust is an act of possession disguised as love, involving a transaction ultimately reducible to numbers. Trust is a contract; love is not. I try to love everyone, but I’m not sure I trust anyone. There’s no reason to.
The problem is that ‘love’ is construed in many different ways, from highest universal unconditional caring to the most lowdown dirty sex conducted under uncertain condition with very certain motives—release! Fire at will! Such love is capable of the most fantastic conceits and worth the most fabulous sums, only to drop like the stock market crash on Black Monday the moment after ejaculation…
Agape love is our highest common denominator: love for our fellow man, love for God and love for our highest ideals. Sex is our lowest common denominator: love for the moment, love for bodies and love for ourselves. I think many—if not most—people agree on that, but the problem is that most people put romantic love up on a higher pedestal, where it probably doesn’t belong. Doesn’t romantic love consist mostly of sexual attraction? It’s just a chemical! Love like that is just a chemical; love is a drug!
That epiphany came for me while under treatment for prostate cancer. ‘Hormone therapy’ basically involves blocking testosterone. You can guess what that means: Wham! Instant bodhisattva! Not only can you no longer perform sexually—and here’s the kicker—you don’t even want to. That’s the crucial point. To achieve that as an act of will would be prophetic, but: how many actually do? That’s why Buddhism is so appropriate for an advanced age, and why Catholicism is so hopelessly confused over the issue. If you want to control sexuality, then Islam has the answer: prohibition.
Acts of will will invariably fall short, as your member invariably grows long. It’s just a chemical! Wars have been fought for it and lives have been lost. All the love stories and acts of chivalry, all the promises and all the lies boil down to the simple presence of testosterone in men and estrogen in women. Take that away and romantic love falls flatter than your fritter. There has to be something better, and there is.
The challenge is to take that knowledge and run with it, the earlier in life the better. Getting religion on your death bed is too Catholic for me. What if the priest gets caught in traffic? That means no last rites and no last wrongs made right. Right symbolism is good; right living is even better. Go hug somebody today, or better yet: go help a complete and utter stranger, and expect nothing in return. Amen.