text by ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY
as told to DONATIEN GRAU
portrait by OLIVIER ZAHM
When we speak of love, we speak of totality. If a love is not total, it is not love. To begin with, we will speak of the love between a human being and another human, and try to see what love is composed of. To know what love is composed of, you have to know what the individual is composed of. The individual is a whole, of course. But such a remark can be immediately contradicted.
According to tradition, each individual is one half of a couple. You have to determine which parts of the two individuals might correspond to each other to form a couple. If an individual is made up of a whole, it’s also made of parts. The physical part is the skin, the flesh, the viscera — the nervous system, etc, biological parts. But you also have to think of those parts as energies. Guided by the symbols of Tarot, I would say that there are four basic energies, plus a fifth. First, we have the corporeal part, which is made of needs; then the sexual part, which is a language of desire; the emotional part, which is a language of feelings; and mental energy, which is a language of words, of ideas. The fifth part, which one might call the fifth sense, is a transpersonal consciousness, which speaks and translates the four languages I have mentioned. Some people call it the soul.
The first love we might speak of is physical, material love, made of necessities, of needs. The couple that arises from such a love is, essentially, constituted for companionship: a working collaboration, a sharing of food, sleep, repose. This material union, a sort of animal love, is the most common. We might say, in terms of esoteric concepts, that each body has an aureole: this is the revelation of the invisible. A body creates itself out of the union of corporeal companionship; the union ties a knot between the two persons united by presence. “I love your presence,” they say. “I need companionship…” This is infantile, too.
This form of love develops toward another love, sexual love. This is passion but, above all, creativity together. The union is formed not only out of the desire of each for the other, but also out of the desire of both for the world. The couple decides things in common. The great suffering of corporeal love is the fear of the other’s absence. In sexual love, it’s the fear of passion: the fear of sexual desire. When people confuse passion with love, no trace of their union remains. When the couple exists through the creative side of desire, the desire to live and create together, then something remains.
In that case, the love continues to grow and passes over into the energy of emotional attachment. Here, the desire to be completed by the other arises: “You are my soul,” they say to each other. This is a projection of the confirmation of existence: what is at stake is not presence, as in the case of the body, but rather existence. “My joy is your existence.” This leads to devotion. In its first two forms, love manifests itself as “I need you.” Here, in the emotional relation, it’s “I need your existence.” We do everything to exist for the other. “If I separate myself from you, you cease to exist.” As Suzuki, the Japanese Zen philosopher, used to say: “If you can feel the separation, you are still there.” Separation becomes a lack of existence.
Then love goes further: it reaches conscious, mental love. I have deliberately said “mental,” and not “spiritual.” This is the love we have always dreamed of. It’s like a portrait of yourself, a portrait of the soul. In mental love, you have to fight to open your mind to the other: get out of the island of the “I,” to become a “we.” It’s like living in the mirror of thought, through difference. Thinking together, what a marvel!
This is conscious love, and in conscious love, generosity arises. In conscious love, the lovers are each concerned with realizing the perfection of the other. “I love all the progress, all the realizations that you make. And I help you with them,” the lovers say to each other. Consciousness is an energy. It is “to become aware of…”
We’re aware of our corporeal, sexual, emotional, and mental attachments, but these attachments must adapt themselves. If you put the intellect into sex, sex becomes cold; if you put sex into the mind, the mind grows brutal. If you put emotion into the other senses, everything becomes weak, infantile. They cannot harmonize with each other. To find a harmony, these four states need a translation: the fifth sense. When we arrive at this state, it’s bliss for the couple. In this fifth state, we can leave behind purely human love to move toward divine love. It’s the consciousness of consciousness. Divine love is another form of couple, for it leads to an opening of the couple’s two beings to arrive at the totality. Divine love is the act of two people together, loving a higher spiritual energy, which we call god. We enter into the universal love that bathes all bodies, all minds in bliss, which we mistake for total love. There remains yet another step, which very few people succeed in reaching, and which leads to pure love, transpersonal love, love-in-itself. When we pass into love-in-itself, we love everything, absolutely everything: it’s the love of the existence of everything, outside of duality. Good and evil are only matters of degree. We abolish the dualist division, we love everything: we love life, and we love death; we love generosity, and we love selfishness. If it exists, it has a role; we have to love it. We love prosperity and kindness, but also crimes and pandemics. We are in the state of love, and we accept all that we are with an absolutely pure love.
Someone asks me, “Do you love Hitler?” I love children, I love old people, I love Pinochet, I love Christ, I love the Buddha. This state of love is a state of consciousness. It’s not an aesthetic judgment. We love beauty, and we love ugliness. We love truth and lies. Love makes no distinctions: it celebrates existence and nonexistence. This is the paradise of love. Its material foundation is acceptance without prejudice. Pure love, when you know yourself, gives you the right to choose the marvel of the world in which you wish to live. It gives you the joy of life.
Everything can then be regained, and we see each of the five other forms of love in a new way, more intense, more profound. What is sex? It’s pure creativity. We love everything; therefore, we are creative, and we consummate our sexual love. To arrive at creativity, you have to arrive at the foundation, that is, non-desire as identity: I am not the desire that I feel. I am the bottle that contains the desire, but I am not the desire.
The grace of a union is the heart: when we have pure love, we know how to choose, we know how to unite. As for the mind, when we have pure love, we arrive at that marvelous mental silence that contains all the ideas in the world and which is called illumination. We stop thinking. Thoughts come and go like clouds. This pure love contains a marvelous thing: humility, the acceptance of what we are. We are beings who live in ignorance.
In the Jewish tradition, the most profound study is that of the Kabbalah. “Kabbalah,” in Hebrew, means “that which is received.” We have received life, desire, feelings, thoughts. We have received these things as human beings, fragments of the divine consciousness. In the enormity of cosmic and microscopic space, the center of the Earth is absolute darkness. We know nothing, except that we are receiving. That’s what love is: to receive.