We talk about LOVE all the time. We love “this” and love “that”, including everything from favorite people, chocolate lava cake, children, pets, to the feelings we get from a wide variety of experiences. We know it is important, that we need it in our world. Many of us have created elaborate mechanisms and defenses just to insure we will get some. But what exactly are we talking about?
A few weeks ago, the “Reminders of What We Need To Know” group that meets at my office had a very interesting discussion about love. It is easy to say we need to love more and better, fully and unconditionally – but how? What exactly does that mean? What do we do with all those pesky feelings of annoyance, anger, jealousy, blame and judgment? Are they not love? Is the “love mask” we put on to hide our true not-so-loving-feelings, love? Can we love ourselves in a realistic, compassionate, non-self-centered way?
Love comes in two distinct versions. First is “I-Thou” love. This is what we are most familiar with and it is the every day way we express strong preferences. It requires an object to be activated and felt. It is the battleground of the heart. Being “in love” is pleasurable, and it fills us with joy, a sense of belonging, and a fullness in our hearts. It helps us connect with others in a meaningful way. It also leaves us open and vulnerable to distorted beliefs based on our experiences with love. Most of us have had our hearts broken at least once. People we have loved and trusted may have let us down or even more difficult to comprehend, hurt us deliberately. Our work, at this level of “I-Thou” object attached love, is to continually work the process around being clear, having our authentic feelings and deciding moment to moment how we want to love.
I remember back to the height of the “New Age Movement” that “unconditional love” was tossed around a lot and was basically the runoff from the hippie-flower-power concept. It meant, “I love you no matter what”. Love is not submission; it requires a strong sense of self and clear boundaries. The greatest love we ever offer is an honest, truthful relationship with accountability. Love is self work and the work pays off. It attracts us to the perfect people and experiences that will catalyze our transformation, if we allow it. We arrive in this physical world with an open heart and after banging around in the life experience, we hope to leave it with an open heart once more.
That “little love”, is heart centered, object oriented, messy and delicious; it is a catalyst for personal growth and necessary for our physical survival. This is very different from “big LOVE”, which is our original state of being.
Big LOVE is what we intuitively feel is needed in the world. It is spiritual connection and what we feel when in the presence of a illuminated being or teacher. The Dalai Lama is the epitome of big LOVE.
Big LOVE is not object oriented. We radiate this state in spite of what is going on around us, or to us, or in our hearts. It expands beyond our physical heart level into the realm of the Divine. When we bring awareness to this state of being, our true nature, we are not concerned with trying to do anything, get something, make anything change, or fighting a war. There is no fear or heartbreak, because it is not object attached. It is expansive and ecstatic. The very presence of this potent state of LOVE changes everything, beginning within ourselves. It puts all the heart centered issues, the power struggles, squabbles and defenses, into perspective. It holds the wisdom of knowing that we really are okay, and that everything always works out for the best. It is grace.
How do we get there? I wish I had a formula to give you. It is easy to identify when we are not in big LOVE. We want our way, we feel frustrated and judgmental. If we start with that awareness, it may be be possible to let go of that attachment, and choose a different way to be with ourselves. What I call big LOVE, is a pathway to enlightenment and there are many ways up that mountain. Tools that can support us in re-discovering our true nature may include meditation, chanting, and spiritual practices of all sorts. Conscious awareness and personal process helps us to become clear in our presence. Therapy. Healing. Prayer. Gratitude. Support and self-acceptance. Faith in that which is greater than our physical being. Each of us finds our way up the mountain. If you are looking for support along your way, I am happy to walk with you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860-884-7130.
Wishing you a day touched by love!