People say that love is the most important. But I would say that love is nothing if you do not learn to live with solitude. According to M. Heidegger, a German philosopher who is widely acknowledged to be the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, we tend to find things as tools for life. I think that our longing for love is a proof for it. Someone we love is the one who is mostly needed for us to make a happy life. We cannot stop craving for love because we are self-interested and need someone who care for us. And this explains why it is not unusual that love becomes violence.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe in true love. I believe in possibility for us to become a better person by experiencing beautiful love. But unfortunately, love makes us often possessive. Why does love make us possessive? It is because we do not know to live with solitude. Those who do not know to live with solitude cannot help being possessive about whom they love. In other words, love makes us greedy and needy unless we know to live with solitude, and this is simply a sign for our lack of ability to become mature and independent.
Why do we lack the ability to become mature and independent? There are two reasons. The first one is the weakness of the mind. The second one is the obsessiveness of the will.
If your mind is weak, you cannot dare to be free. Naturally, the person whose mind is weak needs someone who constantly takes care of him. If her/his beloved loves her/him too, (s)he becomes dependent on her/his beloved more and more.
If you have a strong but obsessive will, you may think of yourselves as free and independent. But that is not true. Your obsessiveness simply means that your mind is bound by overwhelming desires. Strictly speaking, a strong but obsessive will is an oxymoron. The lexical meaning of obsession is a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling. The English word ‘obsession’ came from the Latin word ‘obsidere’ meaning ‘to besiege.’ Being obsessive means that your mind is besieged by something that constantly disturbs your life.
What are people obsessed with in today’s society? There are many answers to this question: making mistakes, fears of contamination, getting ahead in life, violent or horrific images, aggressive sexual behaviors toward others, being successful, etc.. But in a competitive society the most powerful thing that people are obsessive with is the recognition from others. And this is the very cause of the fundamental tragicomedy in today’s society. Those who are sucessful in gaining recognition from others feel good about themselves. But those who are unsucessful are eaten up with bile and self-loathing. Can we say that the former ones are better than the latter ones? Certainly we can. Who in the world would rather be a failure or a loser? But both have one thing in common. Both are obsessive with recognition from others. Their so-called strong will is merely a symptom that their minds are troubled. They all are overly driven by desire to gain recognition from others.
Learn to live with solitude! Those who do not learn to live with solitude cannot live a free life because they lack the ability to become mature and independent. Their longing for love is hard to be good because all they want is instrumentalization of people around them for their own lives. If you are a child, it is o.k. that you are a little bit self-centered and wants people around you to become instruments for your life. As a child, you are still not grown enough to take responsibility for your own life. But if you are an adult and still have a strong longing for someone who constantly cares for you, you are an actual or potential monster. You are and will be stealing and destroying someone else’s life.
According to Heidegger, there are two modes of thinking: calculative thinking and meditative thinking. Unfortunately, the dominant mode of thinking in today’s world is the calculative, which means that we tend to calculate every things we meet in the world as being tools for our own lives. If we do not learn to live with solitude, we cannot be free from the desire to make people around us to simple tools for our lives.
Those who know to live with solitude do not compare themselves with others. For them all people are unique. They understand that only a mind true to the uniqueness of its own life can be truly free. Learning to live with solitude is the same as having a mind true to the uniqueness of its own life. It is only possible for such a mind to meditate on the true meaning of life. And if there is such thing like ‘true love’, it is only allowed for those who are willing to maditate on the true meaning of life.
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|▲ Dept of. Gachon Liberal Arts CollegeProf. SANG YOUN HAN