What is Love? – feelings and needs

In this funny dialogue [@59:50] Marshall Rosenberg, the author of bestselling “Nonviolent communication: A language of Life”, illustrates misunderstanding that happens between a jackal and a giraffe. A giraffe sees love as an essential human need and a jackal limits the notion of love to a certain feeling. In harmony meditation terms the jackal represents a small egocentric self, and the giraffe – a Bigger Self.

Dr. Rosengerg:

Watch this jackal ask a very dangerous question, but notice that the giraffe is too smart ever to answer this question.

  • “Do you love me?” – asks jackal.
  • “Jackal, before I can answer your question honesty, I need to get some important things clear. Are you using the word love as a feeling?” – asks giraffe.
  • Yes, of course.
  • Well, I needed to get that clear. So you mean am I feeling a certain warm cuddly tender feeling toward you?
  • Yes!
  • Okay, I needed to get this clear because we, giraffes, do not use the word love as a feeling, it’s much too important to us to get it confused with a feeling. It’s a need for us. But since you use it as a feeling, okay, I am glad to know that. So now that I know that, would you please ask that question again?
  • Do you love me?
  • When?
  • When???
  • Well, I want to be honest. I can see how important this is to you, but how can I be honest with you about what I feel toward you without reference to a specific moment? Feelings change every few seconds. Life is changing, feelings are part of life, so I have to know specific time and place to ever answer your question of how I feel.
  • What about right now?
  • No. But try me again in a few moments.

I’ve recognized myself in both roles. Do I love me? When? And when can I love myself deeply enough to share that love naturally with others?

I’ve been a jackal and a giraffe,

I’ve had misfortunes and misgivings.

I craved for love and recognition,

And gave according to my feelings…

A gentle voice from bigger self

Speaks out softly, with wisdom and love:

“I feel your pain and here I am.

Forever present, loving and bright.”

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