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Chapter 19: The Three-Rung Ladder of Love

For centuries women were not allowed to read; in many religions women were not allowed to go to the temple, women were not allowed to become priests. Women were not allowed any public life, any social life. They were imprisoned in the houses; they were cheap labor, the whole day working, working, working. And they were reduced to sex objects. There has not been much difference between prostitutes and wives in the past. The wife was reduced to a permanent prostitute, that’s all. The relationship was not a relationship, it was an ownership.

Love respects the other. It is a give-and-take relationship. Love enjoys giving, and love enjoys taking. It is a sharing, it is a communication. Both are equal in love; in a sexual relationship both are not equal. Love has a totally different beauty to it.

The world is slowly, slowly moving towards love relationships; hence there is great turmoil. All the old institutions are disappearing - they have to disappear, because they were based on the I/it relationship. New ways of communication, new ways of sharing are bound to be discovered. They will have a different flavor, the flavor of love, of sharing. They will be nonpossessive; there will be no owner.

Then the highest state of love is prayerfulness. In prayerfulness there is communion. In sex there is the I/it relationship, in love the I/thou relationship. Martin Buber stops there; his Judaic tradition won’t allow him to go further. But one step more has to be taken that is neither “I” nor “thou” - a relationship where I and thou disappear, a relationship where two persons no longer function as two but function as one. A tremendous unity, a harmony, a deep accord - two bodies but one soul. That is the highest quality of love. I call it prayerfulness.

Love has these three stages, and compassion accordingly has three stages, and both can exist in different combinations.

Hence there are so many kinds of love and so many kinds of compassion. But the basic, the most fundamental, is to understand this three-rung ladder of love. That will help you, that will give you an insight into where you are, what kind of love you are living in and what kind of compassion is happening to you. Watch. Beware not to remain caught in it. There are higher realms, heights to be climbed, peaks to be attained.

And the last question:

I don't understand you. Please don't confuse me. I have come here to attain some clarity.