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Absolute Love

I think I can sense a Divine silence beyond this indifferent tranquility of the sea.

Shusaku Endo

Absolute love? Can a concept like that be sensibly and reasonably contemplated at all? To love absolutely – presumably to give everything and not to ask anything in return – that seems to go beyond the confines of common experience and imagination. One may even say that in this world of ours nothing can be more certain than the assertion claiming that „absolute love“ does not exist. After all, such a kind of love can give nothing smaller but everything in the world and cannot give it in any other way than absolutely selflessly – while excluding any possibility whatever of breeding any unwarranted feeling of obligation on the part of the recipient. That means: hypothetical absolute love would have to give everything there is without presenting it as a gift and without betraying itself as the giver.

But doesn't the very world we live in and our own existence have the nature of such a delicate gift? As a matter of fact, we are not obliged in any way to perceive the world and our own existence as a gift. Everything seems to be a matter of course and with its imperfections it does not look like a heartfelt gift. The relationship of giving has been successfully covered up precisely with this. Both in formal terms – with the gift and the recipient being identical (we are given to ourselves, the world is given to itself) – and in terms of contents: the world goes on without apparent outside interventions and its end will probably be similarly natural; it is marked by the suffering of the entire living kingdom and a lack of human kindness. We can, therefore, pose a paradoxical question whether this is not a gift of absolute love, which hides itself precisely behind such a world so as not to tie anyone's hands against one's own will. Only in such a world are we offered the possibility of freely deciding – on our own – in an ambiguous, „zero“ position towards that „gift – non-gift“ to search for that conceivable just as inconceivable selfless absolute love. There is no unequivocal trace left behind it save for this unequivocal sign that it is precisely absolute love which can never leave behind itself any unequivocal trace unless it is to cease being absolute love. This clearcut piece of information, encoded into everything there is, can be a starting point for a further quest. It serves to confirm both our own freedom and the unobtrusive and non-binding selflessness of absolute love in their outgoing link-up on the basis of which an encounter is made possible.

The world as a mere paradoxical invitation to such a meeting does cover up absolute love's never-ending desire to give, after all, itself – overtly and totally. But none other but we ourselves can gradually divest it of the concerns and considerations in the name of which it always endows only to such an extent so as not to oblige. Only our free decision to accept however big an obligation or challenge – the initial willingness to sacrifice everything and expect nothing in return – releases absolute love for a totally apparent act of self-giving. The moment we abandon our calculating disinterested approach, curtains and barriers tend to fall down on the part of absolute love as well. We are with absolute love to the same degree we have made up our mind to give ourselves as much as it does. Full encounter here means unification. And the biggest commitment as well as the greatest gift.

Only afterwards can we discover how has absolute love actually borne our free decision with us since the very onset; each of our sacrifices on its behalf is at the same time its own sacrifice inside us through which it serves our decision to be totally for it. Therefore, the „yoke“ of absolute love is „light“. But the same cannot be said of the burden of the ballast which we are still dragging along and which renders our commitment incomplete: that is the dead weight of uneasily disposable self-centredness with which we enclose that commitment also partly because of ourselves or despite the persisting fears for ourselves. Absolute love does respect this. It is there waiting for man to relinquish care for himself to this love on his own free will and to assume that „light“ and totally emancipating interest in itself in all its entirety and purity.

To be for absolute love in this way, to love it fully means to love what it loves and to love in its own way. Such profound, gentle, sober bliss of this commitment is inviolable and indestructible by external factors, such as drudgery, waste and frustration, persecution, unless, of course, man himself begins to pay greater attention to such factors than to absolute love itself and to those he loves together with it. Through self-forgetfulness because of it man is offered the chance of experiencing the suffering of others as if it were his own suffering, of assuming such hardships himself, but also of experiencing it together with absolute love, and hence together with its inexhaustible potency of giving, seeking ways out, liberating, and supporting one's neighbour in his genuine being. Looking through its eyes, man will discern the simple truth that one should love most those who need loving most and that the greatest happiness is the happiness achieved jointly with those who have previously been most unhappy.

It is never absolutely clear whether our love is sufficiently intense. Concentration on one's own impotence or on one's own merits tends to dampen the spirit of love. Only if we desire to achieve the impossible will absolute love come to our rescue. To love together with it means to change one's criteria: to give even out of a life's minimum – psychological, social, material one – if this happens to be the other person's inaccessible maximum. To be with absolute love involves soiling oneself both with other people's suffering and with one's own errors and failures, spending one's life in a complicated and exhausting struggle with something that cannot be completely conquered. Absolute love is fragile and defenceless. But it invariably is what remains even on the ruins, it is what can always be taken up to start with, what continues independently of anything else. Free beings have nothing to lose but it.

A human relationship sharing the vantage points and modes of absolute love makes it abundantly clear that through his love the donor himself gains the greatest thing: happiness derived from being involved in absolute love's act of self-giving, while the gift itself as well as any gratitude of the recipient – compared with such happiness – displays an infinitesimal value. Then a gift may be accepted without having to be unequivocally regarded as a (binding) gift. He who has thus been endowed can search for hidden prerequisites of this act of giving, which does not oblige man against his own will but rather emancipates him at the very bottom of his freedom.

To stimulate in one's fellow man a resolve to embark on the road towards absolute love, a desire to encounter it at whatever cost, to accept its obligation, gradually to open ourselves out and to become a tool of its self-giving to others through ourselves – that is the greatest gift: for the fellow man, for myself, for absolute love – but always primarily from absolute love.

© Jolana Poláková | Licence Creative Commons
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