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Lions Roar : March 2010
43 SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2010 Bitter, bitter my distress must be, And never, never must my heart give up Its great and overwhelming grief for her, Nor I be granted e’en a passing hope Of joy however sweet, however good. Great joy could acts of prowess bring to me. I’ll do none; all I know to want is SHE. —P EIrE dE rOGIErS Romantic love, no matter how delicious, is the primary symptom of cultural malaise, the central neurosis of Western civilization. By romantic love i mean that which focuses upon the loved one as an object of passion, devotion, and fixation. the loved one becomes the answer to all of life’s problems, the source of all our happiness, and potentially, the source of all of our woes. But, if we are honest with ourselves, we can see that romantic love is deeply unhappy love, addicted to misery and suffering, cloaked in fantasy and separation. Romantic love has become a kind of religion in Western culture. in his landmark book, Love in the Western World, Denis de Rougemont traced the development of romantic love in the courtly tradition of the middle ages, describ- ing it as a christian heresy. He described how christian nobles transferred their devotion from the unattainable god to the unattainable lover, imbuing her with ideal traits beyond any mortal woman. He argued that such a view of romantic love survives today; even now, one of the most pervasive and unacknowledged forms of theism is our ro- mantic life. We have made the lover into a god, and we are in love with love rather than with the lover. the lover is cast in a specific role in order for him or her to remain a god. pHotosBykevinBoyD