Header Art: “Metamorphosis” By Cory and Katska Ench
Don’t blame Love. The only ones who haven’t experienced broken hearts are the ones who never opened them. After suffering a broken heart, we often become more protective of our emotional vulnerability. Many blame “Love” for their pain and, consciously or unconsciously, resolve to harden their hearts against more “Love.”
Love is not a weapon in Cupid’s quiver. Love is not an accessory in our lives. Love is not a pastime, nor an exercise. Love is our very Being. Love is who we ARE when the layers of thought, memory and identification are stripped from our psyche. You cannot keep a distance from Love without keeping a distance from your Self. In fact, it could be said that the most basic gauge of a person’s spiritual evolution is the extent of their Love. We may not be outwardly mushy and soft, but when our minds and hearts are open, we can’t exclude the rest of humanity. Realization automatically expands the encompassment of the Heart.
Many people suffer from self-loathing. Some only love themselves. Some love their immediate families, or perhaps the extended family. For some, love expands to include countrymen, race, creed and so on. We divide the world into those we accept, and those we oppose. Love is the most essential thing, the sweetest thing, and the most precious thing, even though Love is not a “thing.” Love brings color to a world that might otherwise seem grey.
Sadly, Love is one of the first things that becomes distorted in Life; love becomes the poison pill, the Mother of Pain. Our deepest nature consists of Pure Awareness and a “Feeling Nature” that many have described as “Bliss.” It is the pure Joy of Being itself. Our deepest level of satisfaction and happiness is an inseparable part of our Soul.
Our problems begin when the Pure Awareness that we are gets tangled in the stream of thoughts and ideas that form a constant mental dialog in our minds. We weave an ego identity out of our memories and self-reflections, and Pure Awareness forgets itself in witnessing the content of our minds and ego. Pure Awareness doesn’t go away. It still illumines our whole existence and lends its reality to our thoughts and ideas, whether they are real or not. It’s in the background as the witness of all our thinking.
Once we become aware of other individuals, that “Bliss” that we ARE becomes “Love.” Love is our Inner-Bliss-Nature reflected at an object. Love is communing Spirit Essence. The union of Awareness and Love is the sacred marriage that exists within every Heart.
The problem with Love also arises when our Spirit becomes aware of other individuals. We develop an illusory identity, a separate idea of ourselves. Love becomes something that we imagine that we can gain and lose. We go into the business of trading in love. Pure Love doesn’t go away either. It becomes distorted though, and lends its power to our emotional states, whether they are real or not. It’s in the background as the power of feeling.
Instead of Love being something we experience within ourselves, as ourselves, it becomes a commodity we seek from others. We judge the validity of our lives and ourselves by how much “love” we think we are getting from the outside. Our mentally created self-image is insecure and tenuous. It depends on continual reinforcement from outside events that we associate with being “loved.”
Do others spend money on us? Do they invite us to events? Do they say nice things that we want to hear? Do they endure unpleasant chores for our sake? Do they want to have sex with us? Do they express their appreciation and gratitude?
All these things pass for the perception of ‘love.’ They can be given or taken away. We have something to lose, and losing ‘love’ in our lives is a source of deep pain. So while Love is the essence of our Soul, it becomes the external need that we can’t get enough of. Love becomes the drug that intoxicates us. To chase our addiction to love, we are willing to suffer abuse, to be exploited, and to pretend to be somebody we are not. If we feel that love has rejected us, we are willing to cut the heart out of our life to protect us from the pain that threatens to negate our very self.
So while Love is our innermost essential nature, it becomes the elusive external goal that our confused self craves but never has enough of.
That’s why: Love where the Real and Unreal Meet. What you make of that is what you make of yourself. How do we return to the Love within us that can never be taken away? How can we heal our hearts so that opening to Love doesn’t threaten us? First let’s look at they ways that love becomes distorted in everyday life.
It often starts in the family. A child naturally takes mother and father as God for all practical purposes. This link is huge and contains everything from Pure Love to the body’s basic survival programming. Before the child realizes that Mom and Dad aren’t Gods, the child will often blame itself for these Gods not answering baby’s expectations.
Love gets mixed up with meeting our needs and expectations. Throughout the Family process, the ego-identity of each member trades in love for the sake of its needs and self-validation. The feeling of dependency threatens the emerging identity of the child so it seeks power and independence. The child finally realizes that Mom and Dad aren’t Gods and perhaps that realization betrays the trust of its earlier love. The child wants more equal treatment and may trade in giving and withholding love as a strategy to have its way.
The identity of the parents is validated in having their children excel and adopt the parent’s values and beliefs. Parents may even project their own goals and aspirations onto the child and vicariously seek success through their kids. They often devise a variety of manipulations to coerce the child to conform. Unwittingly, they begin to trade in love.
The kids may compete with each other for “love” in its assumed forms. One child may be smarter, prettier, nicer or more athletic than another. That child may likely get more positive feedback, consciously or unconsciously. A child who compares their self-image with their mental images of the other kids builds the wall of ego-identity higher and higher. This ego-identity is an illusion whether it belongs to a “successful” child who feels an increased drive to excel and receive more “love” or whether it belongs to the “Black Sheep” of the family who feels rejected and left out. Perhaps the underachieving child will react by hardening their hear to “love” or seek negative attention through self-destructive acts.
Each family member uses implied threats of giving or withholding love. These manipulations destroy the potential for nurturing unconditional love. The trading in love breeds conflict. When we imagine that love is received in gifts and words as a reward for good behavior, we are making a shallow transaction to sooth the insecurities of our imagined selves.
All our emotional reactions involving our self-idea reinforce our illusory relationship with an imaginary self that always feels a lack of love. Real love underlies all these family dynamics. We still have Love as our Inner Being. It’s just that it gets tangled and confused in the course of our lives. We forget ourselves and look for love in others. Our Inner Love lends power and reality to our drama with external love. Forgetting our Inner Love makes us vulnerable to the pain of loneliness and abandonment…