Romantic love is an illusion. Most of us discover this painful truth at the end of a love affair or else when the sweet emotions of love lead us into marriage and then turn down their flames. We may well wonder whether these illusions are a necessary part of life, or whether we should try to avoid them in the future. Romantic love is one of the most powerful means of pulling us out of literal life into play. In the trance of love we may neglect our duties and obligations, we may make heroic efforts to be with our beloved, we may look at the beloved and see someone without the blemishes that always appear to the realistic eye. To be in love is to be in play, to be taken by illusions. We are
deceived so that the soul can create something out of the stuff of our emotions and fantasies. Illusion
comes from the Latin word in ludere,
"in play." So, illusion and the soul manifest themselves peri passu
---simultaneously and equally. The soul enjoys the playful side of life because play elevates the otherwise heavy literalness of day-to-day existence to the realm of imagination. Illusion works in combination with the soul. Something in us---psychologists call it ego---loves the literal aspects of our activities, while the soul loves the imaginal level, which may take the form of poetics, dream, or play. What nourishes the soul is not exactly the same as the preoccupations and concerns of every-day life. Play is an ingredient in the most important aspect of life. In war, the theaters of engagements, the strategies, the odds of winning or losing, the uniforms, the theatrical names (general, lieutenant, corporal) are all signs of play, dangerous and horrible as it might be. In religion, the holy objects, language, stories, actions, colors, foods, and garments of ritual are signals that what is taking place is sacred play. In romantic love, even though consciousness appears deluded and the serious business of life is being hampered, nevertheless a great deal of inner work, soul work, may be taking place. From the point of view of the soul, romantic love is trustworthy precisely because the literal concerns of life are set aside. The soul now has room to go into action, and its action is always in the nature of play, which can be comic or tragic. Traditionally, the soul was always considered the third factor between mind and body, between spirit and matter. Consequently, when we are most comfortable, even at the height of bliss, the soul is always seeking to descend into play---a kind of menage a trois
between body and mind. The more heightened the feeling for the beloved the more likely for the principal to wander into the mood for play, especially when that person is away. Play does not necessarily carries with it the intention to manifest itself into infidelity, but to nurture the desire until it can be realized in the beloved. As long as the secrecy exists the gratification derived from play is maintained. The feeling of revulsion will only come when the principal comes to the realization of guilt. Just as logic leads the mind, desire tempts the soul---and it's the soul, not the mind, that wants to always engage in play. Desire often asks that we abandon logic, perhaps appearing foolish to our logical thinking partner. When our caution is not defensive, our leap into illusion will not be literally crazy. And since it is not we who are in control of this impulse, but the soul, the madness will be the foolishness of the soul reaching for nurturing and joy. So, conceptually, the soul thrives on ephemeral fantasies of love---not concerned about mind and body or matter, just play. So, can we be literally faithful to our partner, our beloved? Yes, but we have to be very vigilant of the soul, always remembering that microcosm of bliss that we will miss if we allow the soul to overtake us. We cannot do without the soul, be we equally do not want to be without our beloved. A struggle par excellence, but must be won at all cost since our long-term happiness depends on the outcome.