So true confession…I have a hard time with love. I know that sounds mental to the people who know me as I really do try to live in a space of clarity and love (though the people closest to me just did a spit take if they were drinking anything and reading that last statement). Ok, so let me clarify things…I really have a hard time fully feeling comfortable with love. This is because it is the most mutable emotion in the pantheon of emotions. It’s painful, expansive, subjective, powerful, small, selfless, selfish, passionate, fleeting,enduring,timeless, terrifying (this is a big one in my love dictionary)….With this kind of complexity how can any of us really understand what drives the heart of most conscious beings? In my job I have realized the importance of helping people understand the idea of love (as when working with people it is what everyone is struggling with ), and to hopefully demystify the seemingly undefinable ,most sought after state of being in our existence. If we can hold it to the light and see what it really is it no longer controls us. It is exactly what it needs to be.
Real love is so much more complex than the types of love we have been told about in fairy tales by Disney, “Motherhood”(Fatherhood), “Childhood”,(as seen through the eyes of hollywood, books and stories). These are the narrow definitions of love we think we understand. These paradigms of love have already been digested and explained to us. What is a deeply personal experience has been defined, stripped down and often controlled by an external source. None of this is real. All the complex real love we feel is never addressed. In reality, love is so many things combined…including anger and fear. A lot of love is not easy. A lot of love is complicated. When we are never told that what is the equivalent of the ultimate good in the universe and our awareness also holds within in our shadow sides – all of the things that we spend our lifetime trying to (unsuccessfully) avoid, we have a very two dimensional view of love. That limited understanding of what really creates the complexity and the enormity of love leaves many of us confused. Since our definition of love is so narrow we often don’t even see that the emotion we are often sitting in IS love, just not in a way that we have been taught to understand it .
The first thing people do when I speak to them about the complexity of the emotion of love is defend love, as if it is a person that I have insulted; “but LOVE would never feel like that! it is pure and selfless! LOVE asks for nothing in return! LOVE is eternal. LOVE has no expectations attached to it.” My response to them always is: “Why are you making love impossible?” The idea that love is all of these things is beautiful for sure, but not attainable….for love is not something that exists outside of ourselves that we pluck from the universe like an apple off a tree- love exists inside of us because it IS us. Love is who we are- what we create, what we have the capacity to understand- and therefore it is flawed. It is in those flaws that we are presented with the most powerful essence of what love is. Love is mutable, love is angry, love is vulnerable,love is painful, love is often finite, love is lonely, love is scary. Why then, is this the powerful part of love? Its the powerful part of love because even though love can be all of these things, we still have faith in it. These flaws create the need for faith (we wouldn’t need to have faith in something that was perfect). Faith is the magic that is love. With every breath breathed with love, every moment we allow ourselves to be ALL of us- which includes the fear, the vulnerability, the unknowing -and give those parts to others as well as ourselves to hold, we have faith that our love will be taken care of. The most amazing part is that we know that it’s impossible to always take care of this expression of our true selves and yet the faith that is love allows us to continue to give it away, no matter how many times it is dropped, forgotten, unseen, unappreciated. The way we present love may shift and change when it is dropped and dented over the years; we may try to wrap it in cotton wool and put it in a box, we may try to bang out the sides to make the edges hard so people hold it with caution, we may open it up, take out the softest most tender bits, spin it into a blanket and wrap it around our children, but our love will always be our love. It will always be the essence of who we are, a profound expression of our true selves. It is faith in ourselves and the boundless power of our existence that allows us to give this gift, this expression of ourselves.
So the true power of love is not its perfection- it’s its flaws, persistence and its faith. When we accept that, we are in essence accepting ourselves. We can judge the way we love, we can judge the way others love, we can look at the way it has been wrapped because of the dents and dings it has received and call it something less than it is because we don’t understand it, but at the end of the day it is all the same thing- the offering up to ourselves or others our essence. It is the offering up of our understanding of the world and our place in it. It is the offering up of all of most fundamental spaces that make us who we are. As we are all part of this universe, when we offer our essence we can start to understand our connection with the universe and our divinity. “Love is our true essence. Love has no limitations of caste, religion, race, or nationality. We are all beads strung together on the same thread of love. To awaken this unity–and to spread to others the love that is our inherent nature–is the true goal of human life.” ~ Amma