Courtship is the foundation upon which married life is erected.
Real courtship is in all love that is directed towards an object
with the hope of gaining it, and with constancy in the pursuit
of it. Belief that the object will be attained some day, and
confidence that the desire to attain will not weaken before
it is fulfilled, is the spirit of true courtship.
One sees many cases where a young man or girl, from the desire
to get all the pleasure possible, is happy with one friend in
one season, and with the change of season changes the friend:
a kind of restlessness that may increase to such an extent that
youth making merry, may seek a new companion, or new face with
whom to share every fresh enjoyment. Such as these know only
of pleasures that pass, and remain in the same place where they
were. And those who seek to recall the first springtime of emotion
in many experiences, and so go from one love affair to another
until they grow to be more interested in change than in anything
else, lose sight of the real beauty of courtship and its real
joy. Their loves that change so often make but little difference
to them. And their hearts, which have suffered no wound since
love has never fully touched them, remain unilluminated.
Then too often one sees that a young man or woman, perhaps
from great cautiousness, or a fundamental lack of confidence
or trust, will have several love affairs at a time, thinking
to choose at last the one that may seem closest to his or her
ideal. Although this way may prove successful up to a point,
it certainly will prevent ultimate success in life. For love
is the power that is the original cause of creation; it is the
battery working behind the mechanism of the universe. And this
original power is crippled in the individual when he attempts
to divide it by directing it towards more than one whom he regards
as possible objects of his love.
As to the effect of indecision upon others, changeableness
on the part of a man seems usually to have more harmful results
than changeableness on the part of a woman. Since a woman's
position in life is the more delicate one, whether regarded
from the moral, social, or physical point of view, there is
more danger that the injury that a man inflicts upon her may
prove irreparable. At the same time a woman is perhaps to be
more censured than a man is if she proves fickle and changeable,
since she naturally possesses greater stability, especially
in matters of the heart.
The man or woman, who, out of cautiousness or for whatever
reason, has more than one in view in courtship, is not able
to give enough to anyone, nor take enough from anyone. He is
unable to take for the very reason that he is unable to give.
Think then what he loses! If he were able to see those ocean
waves that move in his heart, the heart that is vaster than
any sea, he would never be deluded into thinking that any price
could be too great to pay for the loss of that emotion which
comes in the intensity of love.
The right mate comes at the right time, and then indeed all
cautious testings seem useless, crackling like straw. As soon
as feeling is divided for the sake of any such reason as the
testing of the beloved, it becomes a business. One can no longer
speak of it as love. And as soon as one's feeling is divided
for such a reason one begins to develop deception, and the emotions
eventually become obscured by deception. There cannot, indeed,
be any sincere love without single-mindedness, nor any fragrant
love without sincerity.
A tendency is often seen in young people of wishing to arouse
jealousy and of attempting to gain a deeper affection by showing
the lover how much others admire them, and therefore how worthy
of admiration they are. But these are the wrong tactics, for
the current that should flow in a single stream is of necessity
disturbed by such a maneuver. A persistent lover will no doubt
fight his battle on love's field to overcome his real or supposed
rival. But after winning the battle the current of his love
will be weakened and may be exhausted. Usually indeed, on account
of the conflict and strain sustained, it becomes so attenuated
that at any moment the thread can break or wear through.
One also sees young people viewing courtship from a practical
standpoint, thinking what practical benefit they may derive.
Whether it is money or comfort or position they think of, it
is the thing they are looking for that they love and not the
person. However loving or affectionate a couple may appear,
there can only be disappointment for one of them if their courtship
is built on such a basis. For by an inner law of nature, if
one of two friends is disappointed the other cannot be entirely
When the stream of love flows in its full strength it purifies
all that stands in its course, as the Ganges in the teachings
of the ancients purifies all who plunge into its sacred waters.
It is more than a wonder, more than interesting or beautiful,
to see the devotion of a youth in the presence of the beloved.
The pain of his longing in her absence, his effort to come to
her, and his planning to communicate with her when there is
no channel or means. And his imaginings, what he would like
to tell her, how he would like to put it, all are washed away
in that moment when he is face to face with her.
Sincere courtship is in itself a religion. Surely no religion
can teach more than love can. When the beloved becomes so much
the center of life that the lover begins to lose his selfishness
through thought for her; when he is so impressed by her beauty
that no other beauty, no matter how great, can make him falter
in his allegiance to her; when for her sake he becomes gentle
and considerate; when he confesses to her what he would not
have any one else on earth know; when his desires turn towards
honesty and sincerity in all things, through his honesty and
sincerity in love, is there not then something in his life greater
than the religion that is merely taught? Has he not himself
received a direct inspiration from heaven above? A lover thus
inspired looks forward with the same hope to his future life
with the beloved that the pious do to life in the hereafter.
The meeting between two such lovers is nothing less than a divine
communion, since God, who is Love, and was asleep in their hearts,
is now awakened within them.
Many say, and rightly, that parents should have control in
the love affairs of their children, for whose sake they have
borne so many troubles and difficulties. And who could enumerate
the sacrifices that parents willingly undergo to support their
children and to protect them from all hardship? It is undoubtedly
hard for any parent to find that the child who was once so helpless
and dependent is no sooner grown than he wishes to take a step
quite independently of anyone, and a step that will influence
his whole future happiness. Besides, as they say in the East,
youth is blind, and especially blind when love rises in the
heart, covering reason with clouds of emotions, and sweeping
away discretion in a storm of feeling. At such a moment it is
a third person who can judge of the real state of affairs. Shall
the place of this third person be denied to the parents who,
in the majority of cases, live their youthful lives again in
the youth of their children?
At the same time parents who separate their child from the
beloved, whether by force or by influence, are in danger either
of driving the child who is courageous and independent away
from them altogether, or of crushing the heart of the weak one
in such a way as to leave a pain there that is never forgotten.
Many a girl comes in her disappointment to look upon her parents,
once her friends, as her bitterest enemies. Parents and children
live in such different worlds; the temperament, the outlook
of the old is so strange to the young.
And is it really possible for any one being to take over
the responsibility of the life of another? Can it really be
thought that any soul has the right to control another soul
by power or force? There is one control: affection, which is
the only legitimate deterrent; but affection loses all happiness
once it disregards freedom. Freedom of the self and freedom
of the loved one, true affection can never lose sight of either.
And whether it be through love of mother or father, or of the
one who loves in courtship, once the freedom of the beloved
has been hindered, a fault against love has been committed.
Where the attentions of love are not acceptable they should
be withdrawn. Where the lover finds that the beloved is troubled
by the expression of his love, or that the heart of the beloved
is changed and bent in a new direction, so that his power is
no longer able to keep it in the direction he wishes, then instead
of causing harm to the beloved, let the lover (whether father,
or mother, or whoever it be) cease to demand a response. He
may perhaps become indifferent and erase his love. If so, good.
But the real lover accepts the bowl of bitterness from the hands
of the beloved as a draught that purifies and strengthens for
life, knowing that crucifixion alone is the source of resurrection.