Finding Beauty

The Flavors of Love

The Rasas (Via Abhinaya.)

Rasa is the Sanskrit term for the flavor or texture of an experience. The nine Rasas include Comic, Compassionate, Furious, Heroic, Fearsome, Gruesome, Wondrous, Peaceful, and Erotic. Every moment of life touches upon one or several of them, as they tumble into each other and overlap. The Rasas are referenced when talking about art or aesthetic theory because of the power of a great work or composition to evoke them: a Goya etching may tap into the gruesome yet leave you in a state of wonder. The Mary J. Blige song that makes you cry may help you end up in a place of peace. Anyway, I've been thinking about the connection between the Rasas and the different flavors of love...

There is a love that feels like peacefulness, a love that feels like yearning, a love of bubbling-over joy, and a love that evokes eroticism. Love can feel clearly directed and specific, or it can be as vast and expansive as the cosmos. My love of cake is not the same as my love for my beloved, which is not the same as the love I have for my parents, or for my best friend, or for the ocean. Yet I feel passionately about all of those things. And within each of those forms and variations of love there are infinite nuances of experience.

Love resides not in the object but in the subject. It is not something to pursue or look for anywhere outside of yourself. This is not to say that you can’t find love with someone or something else. But it is the word with that makes all of the difference. You have to connect to the experience of love within to receive love from anything in the external world. And then maybe you don’t receive it in the way or form that you wanted, which feels surprising, interesting, or lousy, but it doesn’t change the fact that love is still there, because the love resides in you. The feeling of love, the ability to love is always present, while the object of your love and the texture of your love shift, change and diversify.

Love offers us an intensity of experience that dives deeply into the Rasas, showing us how vast and diverse our capacity for love really is. If that flavor of love were not a part of you, you wouldn’t even be able to recognize it. So something from the outside evoked the love that was already present within you. And regardless of what happens on the outside, that flavor of love is always there.

Try this: Take a moment to think of what you really love and whom you really love. Observe the flavors or textures of each of those particular loves. Then recognize how each one of them is an aspect of your self.