In the old days, man and woman that have never met would become husband and wife overnight. I can't help but to ask "Did the couples in arrange marriages find love?" "What is love anyway?"
The Chinese word for Love is Ai. If we study the word vertically, from top to bottom, it is made up of 4 minor character or parts:
- The top minor character is zhua, meaning grip.
- The second is roof.
- The third is xin or heart.
- The last character is you or friendship. Once we put all these into the context of an arranged marriage, which is the mode of marriage until the recent decades, the recipe for building a lasting and loving relationship is unraveled.
At the beginning of the marriage is a promise, represented by the minor character grip. The word grip shows deliberateness and solemnity of the promise of marriage. It also paints a picture of two people holding hands as they walk into their home, represented by the second minor character roof. Under the roof, we see the central character, the third character heart.
In each set of minor characters that forms a Chinese word, there is always a central character that is given the most weight in interpretation because it informs us of the essence of the whole word. In the word Ai, the minor character heart is the central. This tells us that Love is a matter of the heart and it must be approached wholeheartedly. Finally, the foundation that supports the entire structure of Ai is the last and bottom minor character friendship .
Thus, we have decoded the whole love story. Love starts with an engagement to be married. Fulfilling the engagement, two strangers with hands clasped walk into a home, inside which the hearts bloomed. With genuine interactions of the hearts, a deep bond of friendship is built. This friendship would then serve as the foundation of love that would last for a lifetime.
This may sound like the Chinese helplessly embraced fatalism and was encouraged to settle with inescapable circumstances. But that is not the case. Chinese believed that all human bonds are forged, by ourselves, over many past lives. It is these bonds that serendipitously pull people together, so we always end up with the people we wanted to be with, even if only for a limited time. This is call Yuan Fen. Following this line of thought, if two people have the Yuan Fen, or karmic entwinement that brings them together, it must be cherished. Ai or Love is the action that honors the miracle of Yuan Fen.