Love is a discernment quality, a recognition of the one and the other.
Love is the glue that holds things together as well as the boundary that defines and separates them. This discernment quality sees the difference between two things and holds them separate so that they may know each other. One end of love is absolute separation. The other end is absolute union. In our relationships, we discern our differences so that we may know both ourselves and one another.
To discern means to see, recognize, discriminate, or distinguish. When you discern something, you recognize that it's different from something else. You specifically recognize that it is different from you. As Limb Four of Emotional Yoga, Love is the ability to perceive yourself as the one who is discerning your emotions. When you connect yourself with an emotion, you hold it apart from you in order to perceive it as separate. In an emotional self-inquiry, you discern the difference between yourself, what you feel, and the discernment process itself. You exist on the cusp between yourself and the emotional experience. Within this state of clarity you discover the meaning of the emotional grip. Then you can decide how much — if at all — you wish to link yourself to it.
This concept of love is obviously different from any idea of romantic love. But in order to have romantic or even spiritual love, you have to have discernment. You can't just merge with someone or something. No matter how close you are to someone, there's always something separating you. And no matter how distant you are from someone, there is always a connection between you. Love is a discernment quality, a recognition of the one and the other. It is the nexus between two dissimilar things, and this connection breeds hope, faith, and the possibility of a future. Although love acts as a unifying force between things, the strength of love lies in the differences.
Learn more from my book, "Emotional Yoga: How the Body Can Heal the Mind".