“Love is active penetration of the other person, in which my desire to know is stilled by union. In the act of fusion I know you, I know myself, I know everybody—and I “know” nothing. I know in the only way knowledge of that which is alive is possible for man—by experience of union—not by any knowledge our thought can give. Sadism is motivated by the wish to know the secret, yet I remain as ignorant as I was before. I have torn the other being apart limb from limb, yet all I have done is to destroy him. Love is the only way of knowledge, which in the act of union answers my quest. In the act of loving, of giving myself, in the act of penetrating the other person, I find myself, I discover myself, I discover us both, I discover man…
The only way of full knowledge lies in the act of love: this act transcends thought, it transcends words. It is the daring plunge into the experience of union. However, knowledge in thought, that is psychological knowledge, is a necessary condition for full knowledge in the act of love. I have to know the other person and myself objectively, in order to be able to see his reality, or rather, to overcome the illusions, the irrationally distorted picture I have of him. Only if I know a human being objectively, can I know him in his ultimate essence, in the act of love…
The experience of union, with man, or religiously speaking, with God, is by no means irrational. On the contrary, it is as Albert Schweitzer has pointed out, the consequence of rationalism, its most daring and radical consequence. It is based on our knowledge of the fundamental, and not accidental, limitations of our knowledge. It is the knowledge that we shall never “grasp” the secret of man and of the universe, but that we can know, nevertheless, in the act of love.”
Erich Fromm – Excerpts from The Art of Loving
This is one of those challenging expositions on love that asks us how often we engage in mental “union” with another, how much we approach with a pre-set mode of “reception” or an attitude of already knowing what we will experience with another because he or she is a. b. and c. (fill in the blanks). How much are we actually empty and awaiting the work of receiving and penetrating in relationship with another, ready for anything wonderful to happen, not accepting the cubicles of “this person is thus and so and will always be?” We can be open to newness and change in another’s life while wholly aware of the inevitable and wonderful nature of that same person.
This type of knowing, of love itself, is beyond anything we can articulate and it opens up the skies and plows the fields of the earth, making room for fields of creative discovery, of perpetual growth. It is deeper than the mind can reach, richer than the body can feel and more alive than the spirit can capture.
And it is active in our every pulse, in our every work as we purposefully seek to manifest our own unique response to love, our unique expression as love and our authentic investments and works for love with an open, ready and penetrating heart/mind.
jrk 2008, 2009