Ever since the dawning of the history of mankind, there have been myriads of diversifed inventions, discoveries, and even explorations of the mysteries of the universe. In fact, the human beings are so intelligent that we have solved almost all kinds of problems we have confronted with .
However, nobody has ever made out what the word “love” really connotes, not even the most famous people such as great politicians, saints and philosophers can clarify the meaning of “love”, neither can they deal with the various affairs concerning love. Love is like a huge boundless net that shrouds us all in. We can neither break away from it nor escape from it. Like it or not, we are always entangled in it. It is an invisible net without any form, that shrouds in different people from different angels; It is a merciless net that upsets us or even tortures us to death. It is also a supreme net which almost no human can surpass. Even if they are heroes, emperors, wise men or saints, they can do nothing but show their helplessness in its face. Those who can breathe through the holes of the net should be regarded beyond commonness and vulgarity. Love can bring us temporary comfort and happiness, but mostly they bring about annoyance and sufferings. Maybe this is the reason why many people have seen through the illusions of the mortal world. However it is not so easy to break away from this boundless, ever-existing and indifferent net of love.
Love is varied and changeable, but roughly it can be divided into three categories: family love, fraternal love and amatory love. Not like Monkey King who jumped out of the rocks, we were all born after mother's pregnancy of about nine months, hence we have countless relatives without any choice: parents, grand-parents, and grand-parents-in-law, uncles and aunties, brothers and sisters, etc. and once looking at the genealogical tree, we'll see no end. Family love is what everyone longs for, but the warmth and support from our beloved ones are what everyone yearns for the most. But how many of us are determined to contribute to our beloved one? And how many don't expect repayment and relaxed. conscience even if they have the desire and preparation to contribute to their beloved. The distance between relatives is different and so are their expectations. But since it's very difficult to know how much we should expect, a lot of worries and distresses emerge.
Parents always expect their children to show their filial obedience, or at least pay them frequent visits after they have got married. If the children fail to do this, they feel hurt and upset, and they'll even complain about their children, because they just can't understand why their children don't care about them after what they have done for the children for so many years to bring them up. Nevertheless, one's experience determines his ideology. Young children are naturally attached to their parents, but when they grow up, specially when they have made their own friends, and got married, what they need most is independence and freedom, and parents sometimes might become their burden. Once there is generation gap, it becomes more difficult to communicate and this keeps them away from their parents. Objectively speaking, they need more independence in order to achieve success. In the present society, what the children want to have most is the economic support from their parents, not their moral support or guidance. They would complain if your economic support is not up to their expectations. The love from uncles and aunties would naturally dwindle after they have had their own children. Only the love from grand-parents and grand parents-in-law is pure and demands no repayment, and they are also too old to wait for any repayment. As for the distant relatives, their love depends on their needs, just as the old saying goes “The poor have no friends even if they live in downtown while the rich have distant relatives even if they live in deep mountains”. Granny Liu, a distant kinsfolk, in A Dream of the Red Mansions , claims kinship with the wealthy Jia family, thinking that she may benefit from it in some ways. Liu might have run away without any traces if the Jia family had been a poor one. Another saying goes “Close neighbors are better than distant relatives.” The most difficult is to manage the relatives when doing business together, just as what the TV series program Liu Laogen discloses. It is all right to stay poor together, but as soon as the business grows prosperous, the group will become estranged and even dissolve because of the unfair distribution. Family love is like a maze which we shouldn't go too far into it, otherwise, we'll surely get lost. Love is a bilateral matter and unilateral love can only lead you to nowhere in spite of your good intentions. Family love is, sometimes, like an arranged marriage, leaving no choices to you. Due to the different experiences and tastes, staying together temporarily can be entertaining, while living together for a long time can only be boring due to the lack of common interest and understanding. How can we communicate with each other without understanding? Parents have the duty to support the children who are not yet economically independent, and children have the responsibility to provide for the elderly parents who are lack of economic abilities to support themselves. Except these two kinds of duties which we must fulfill, other kinds of love become conventional formalities such as paying visit to the sick or the dead and giving presents to the newly-born etc..
No love among relatives has become a normal phenomenon which needn't to be fussed about. What's worse is when love is contaminated by money. Sooner or later we will get hurt. The sooner we get out of this net of love, the more we can preserve beautiful memories.
We are not living in vacuum, and the society is formed of various kinds of people. As long as we want to live, study, or work, we have to contact, communicate and cooperate with others. Those who enjoy common interests, mutual understanding, common undertakings and common benefits become friends.
Some friends are called fair-weather friends, because they are together just for entertaining themselves by eating, drinking, and gossiping. Once there's nothing to eat and drink, their friendship is finished. Some are spiritual friends who share common ambitions, pursuits and education. “They enjoy talking and laughing with the great talents and never make friends with the good-for-nothings”. The best examples would be Yu Boya and Zhong ziqi of the ancient times who are famous not only for their lofty music but mainly for their lofty characters and mutual understanding and appreciation. They cared very little about material wealth, so their friendship is known as “gentlemen's friendship as pure as water”. The third type of friendship belong to those who show their utter devotion to each other. They are ready not only to share weal and woe but also to die for each other, like the three brothers Liu, Guan and Zhang in the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. . We all wish to have this kind of friendship, but it's of great difficulty for the ordinary people to be as devoted as they were.
Fraternal love or friendship is wide-ranged and flexible. Generally speaking, everyone is our friend, just as Chairman Mao says “Our friends are all over the world”. But transcend age, sex, nationality, state and economic conditions. To them the most important is common benefit, common interest and understanding. Friendship is formed during the course of studying, working and fighting. The battle companions who have survived many hazards usually enjoy long-lasting friendship.
However, fraternal love is not stable. Being away for too a long time, losing all common benefits, friends will become estranged. Once their interest has changed, they no longer understand each other, and even this would harm friendship. At all times and in all countries, many close friends and battle companions who once worked together and fought together became enemies in the end. Quiet a few of the emperors in ancient China even killed those who had helped them found their dynasties. The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom would not have failed if it hadn't been for the contending and massacring among the those who first rose in rebellion at the beginning of the uprising. What else we need to pay attention to is that some friends, after being away from each other for too long a time, have lost so much of their original characters that when meeting again, you will feel that you are still the same as you were, while they are no longer themselves. They may have the same feeling about you, so sometimes it's better not to meet each other again. As the Chinese proverb goes “friendship can not last for three years and flowers can not stay in blossom for three months”. It's not so easy to maintain real friendship which needs mutual understanding, tolerance and sacrifice. Any kinds of harsh treatment will damage friendship.
Amatory love has been a mystery for ages. There's neither a criterion to judge nor a common rule to follow. Nobody can tell the exact reasons why love emerges. It is not always because of beauty (the ugly doorkeeper Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame is loved by the beautiful Gypsy girl Esmeralda), nor kindness (Hitler also has his mistress), nor wisdom ( even the blockhead may sometimes marry a beautiful girl), nor strength (some love starts from sympathy). True love is like getting an electric shock, shaking our soul. It is a sweet dream, a kind of intoxication, indulgence, and endless passion.
True love doesn't need a long time to grow up, to make clear the family tree of the other, neither does it needs the time to look ahead and behind again and again. Love is not marriage, which usually starts from love, but doesn't always depend on love to maintain. Long-lasting marriage can eventually turn into a kind of family love, a kind of companionship which preserves the companion but loses the passion. Love is often an wink of the eye, or a smile that hints mutual understanding. In spite of the great distance between them, people may fall in love incidentally. Hence the saying “a distant marriage is tied up with a mysterious thread”. Love needs passion, and it can stand bumps and stumbles, ups and downs, complaints and blames. When it turns into a pool of water, especially dead water, without any billows or waves, it's time for it to die.
Delicacies are tasty, but eating everyday can still make one lose appetite. Happiness is what everyone longs for, but too much happiness can spoil people who may not care about the happiness they already have. It's universal to live in happiness without knowing it. The same is true with love. Very few people can love the same person passionately all their lives. All love stories come to an end no matter how beautiful they are, which also demonstrate the changeability of love. What one has been chasing wildly may turn into something one wants to get rid of desperately in the end. Besides, love is usually blind, especially those who fall in love at the first sight. At the very beginning, both try to demonstrate their beautiful side and cover up their Weakness. Fooled by the mysterious color of love, one often mistakes the weaknesses as merits. However, as time passes by, frequent contacts make one bored, and even merits become defects, and then the end of love is coming. What's more, there are the capricious men and women who never take love seriously, leaving the devoted ones suffering alone. The saying that the devoted is always abandoned by the heartless has almost become the truth of love affairs. What we can't neglect is that love may turn into hatred, and lovers may also become enemies. The best proof is the numerous divorces.
Even though true love is hard to find nowadays, we still can see some true and infatuated boys and girls who readily give up their families, their parents, their studies, their careers and even their lives for love. They love so passionately, crazily and wildly that they hate anyone who is against their love, and may even harm or kill him if he insists on his objection.
Love has magical power that can exploit people's potential abilities, bring people's positive factors into full play, and provide people with the courage to face trials and hardships, to go through life and death, and even to risk universal condemnation. Even in the ancient feudal society, some people were courageous enough to carry on clandestine love affairs. The examples in point were the courageous ones who dared to love the concubines of the emperors or the children of their foes. Love also has miraculous power which can startle the universe and move the gods by attracting the heavenly celestials coming down to earth ( The Love Story of the Cowboy and the Weaving Girl ), and by turning ghosts into human ( Strange Tales of Liao-zhai ). Love can transcend age and generation (Dr. Sun Yat-sen and Madam Song Qingling; Luxun and Xu Guangping). love can show contempt for all conventions and prejudices; love can heal wounds and cure diseases, and love can readjust people's state of mind. Of course, the result would be the opposite once it hurts.
Great men yearn for true love even more than ordinary people. Since the ancient times, so many heroes couldn't help falling into the trap of love that the sex-trap has been regarded as one of the 36 stratagems in military tactics. Fuchai, the king of the Wu State, couldn't be spared of this trap, and Generals Dongzhuo and Lubu fell deeply into it while Xiangyu, the King of the Western Chu State , bid farewell to his beloved concubine in tears. People may have to pay very high price, even their illustrious name for the love they long for even though it may last for only a very short time. Nonetheless no one can tear himself away from love. People often say that their earthly affinity is not yet finished, but in fact it is the love affinity that is the most difficult to finish.
Love is shapeless and priceless. We can blame nobody when captured by it. Love can not be forced, nor can it be pretended. Sympathy is not love, neither is gratitude. Love must be generated from the heart, and expressed in actions. It can not be called love without passions and a deep longing from the bottom of the heart. There's no impassable gulf between family love and fraternal love. Some family love may turn into friendship. At the same time, natural barriers doesn't exist either between fraternal love and amatory love. Some friendship may develop into amatory love. The same is true with amatory love which may change into family love after a long time of mutual grinding and polishing.The closer the relationship, and the higher the expectations are, the more difficult it is to get along with each other. Family love, fraternal love and amatory love are three main human feelings. If handled well, they can bring us extreme happiness, while handled improperly, will bring us great sufferings.
The present society is a world of dazzling money and dwindling human feeling contacts. Most people hold a snobbish attitude. They only make friends with people of wealth and of high social status. Just as Zhen Shiyen said in his expounding of the song “All Good Things Must End” in A Dream of the Red Mansions “While men with gold and silver by the chest, turn beggars scorned by all and dispossessed”. Frankly speaking, however, if we regard money the first thing in whichever one of the three kinds of loves, it will depreciate and even become worthless.
Love can not pretend, nor can it tolerate too much selfish motives. It is reported that an old man in Jiangsu Province left his million Yuan heritage to his young housekeeper instead of his own children, because his own children didn't take care of him while the young housekeeper accompanied him through his last lonely and helpless years.
Love is easily perceivable and perceptible. Flattery words may be cheatable, but true love and false feelings can easily be distinguished. If the people you love only know how to spend your money, you should be careful of them. Everyone can help you spend your money if you give them the chance. Never turn your love into the slave of money.
Love should be selfless, and feelings should be sincere. We shouldn't judge our feelings according to the distance of the relationship. Everyone treasures love and nobody can fool himself or the others. A Chinese saying goes: real heroes yearn even more for true love, and great men cherish tender love for their children.
We are the saint on earth, and should treasure our love, but we should know how much is good and where to stop. Since there's no ever-lasting banquet, nor is there an endless love story, we should take the gains and losses of love with perfect composure. There's fragrant grass in every corner of the earth, and you can always find your love in this world.
Translated by Zhang Baodan
June 20, 2004