When you hear the word love, what comes to your mind first, ‘affection’ or ‘passion’ or both? In this world affection is tinged with passion.
For example a parent may immensely love the child yet he may wish his child becomes a doctor or wish he does things that bring him glory. He may even subtly pressurise his child with his own expectations. That’s the mode of passion. The primary characteristic of passion is desires, and hankering to enjoy the object of love. Two friends may serve and help each other. That may fill their hearts with affection for the other. However soon they may expect the other person to do something that they want or be available when they want, and slowly expectations from the other may lead to a minor altercation or tension in the relationship. That’s how passion enters the sacred space of affection.
Affection motivates one to serve the object of his or her love, and passion goads one to enjoy it for self. A lover may claim he loves his beloved, and may even serve her the whole day, attending to her smallest of needs. As she feels his love in his affection, and reciprocates by her smile and gratitude, he’d most likely feel a desire to express his love more physically. And that’s when passion takes over.
Basically passion adds activity, intensity and desires to affection. The Bhagavad Gita declares the mode of passion to be binding one to the material world.
How does one love another person in this world and also not get entangled by the mode of passion?
The solution is to add the element of ‘aspiration to be a servant’ to our affectionate service. Service devoid of affection is dry, and unsustainable, but when we add affection, it immediately catches the fire of passion. Our hearts are like dry grass, and the spark of affection immediately sets the fire of passion to it. Only if our hearts are moistened with selfless service, the spark of affection won’t light the blazing fire of passion to it.
But wouldn’t relationships lack the spice and flavour without passion. Yes it would for some, but for sincere spiritualists who seek to transcend the cycle of birth and death, passion is a serious impediment; it threatens to keep one bound to this material world. But when such a practitioner sincerely serves remembering the Lord, then all his relationships in this world would provide him spiritual spice and taste.
How do we translate this into our daily lives? By offering sincere service with love and at the same time being detached from the results of that love, we could transcend the mode of passion. But you may whine it’s not easy to be detached; expectations mar every relationship. For this we need to practise remembering God, Krishna and connect to Him. Feeling loved by Krishna helps us give love abundantly, and also selflessly.
Chanting the Holy Names is the easiest way to feel loved by Krishna. One feeling loved by Krishna can affectionately and selflessly serve others, because he doesn’t expect anything from them. That’s because his needs are being met by Krishna through His merciful Holy Names. Then not only he’d get strength to be detached when he receives no love from others, his actions would also be free from the mode of passion. He may passionately express his love and also serve with tireless enthusiasm but that’s not passion rather pure affectionate service because it’s filled with remembrance of Krishna and a desire to be a servant. Therefore such actions are devoid of the influence of three modes.
Affectionate and selfless service then not only liberates one from the cycle of birth and death, but also spreads true love everywhere in this world.