I was rummaging through my desk the other day, when I came across today’s photo. The gentleman patiently listening to me is a university professor and we were collaborating on a curriculum for a leadership development workshop I was creating. All the dear man asked was, “What would this [the workshop] look like if you had complete creative freedom,” or something to that effect. I guess it's true that I can be an intense individual at times... LOL!
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-=[ Unconditional Love ]=-
“If during the course of the day, no one tells you you are loved, know this: I love you. I love you unconditionally for being the way you are right now -- this very moment -- and I will continue loving you in this way until you can love yourself in this very manner.”
I remember the first time I heard these words (or words similar to the above) and thinking at the time, “What bullshit!” I mean the man saying the words didn’t know me from a hole in the wall, didn’t know me at all, had never even seen me, and he was addressing a whole group of people. How could he possibly love me in this way?
I remember making a silent promise to myself never to say something so phony, so utterly banal. LMAO! Today, I say it on a daily basis, and I actually mean it -- and I know that particular man quite well.
I think there’s lots of talk about love and unconditional love in particular, but I also notice that very few people actually practice it. Which leads to today’s reflection. People have asked me my reason – my motivation – for posting these things. The answer is simple, but its history isn’t.
I first posted a personal reflection on singles site a few years ago. Someone had lost their mother, a few of us showed our support by paying our respects at the funeral, and when I went home, I jotted some notes in my journal. You see, sometimes these posts originate as part of a daily exercise I do in order to keep me grounded (sane? ). In the morning I meditate, read a quote or passage, and then I usually journal. It’s very personal -- my experience.
I posted that particular reflection on death because I felt it would’ve lessened a particular person’s pain and immediately after I was inundated with private emails from people I didn’t even know thanking me for the post. Others asked if had written it, if I had gotten it from a book, and if so, where could they find that book. Still others asked if I could post more. So, I began posting parts of my journal as a morning ritual.
That’s how it started… at least that’s how these reflections began. I’ve been posting to the web in one form or another since the early 90s.
There were (are) times when I feel foolish posting these things, I do tend to get a bit pedantic and preachy, and sometimes I wonder if this is just some form of foolish self-indulgence. But then someone will write to me, thanking me for expressing a feeling, or writing about an experience, or how he or she chose to take an action partly because I wrote about something, and I realize that this isn’t about me, it’s really about a connection. You would probably be surprised to know that when I write these things I feel humbled and a sense of responsibility because I never know who’s reading this or how the ripples of the actions of my speech will affect someone. More often than not, this involves getting my ego out of the way so that I can channel the unconditional love in some way.
Get this, if you get anything at all: I do love you – even those I find hard to love. You know: the hypocrites, gossip mongers, even those who talk about me behind my back, or belittle, or misconstrue my message. Those that puff themselves up and try to convince the world that everything is OK, and do and say things just to be a part of a clique – yep, they too are loved. Because it isn’t “me” that’s doing the loving, it’s really about becoming love a little at a time.
Do I always totally and unconditionally love?
Oh heck no! LOL! And if anyone is telling you they love you like that all the time, you better run home and check your jewelry!
I also know that sometimes loving in this way means that I don’t have to engage certain people whose actions have ill intentions. One of the best things I learned is that I can love people from far away and that compassion begins with me. Also, sometimes love means not co-signing bullshite -- or in the Buddhist context -- fierce compassion.
I like to think that meeting me is to experience this love in some way. Some people may see it in my humor, others see it as “charisma,” whatever the perception, I can say that meeting me is to be touched or changed (in many ways! ). The real punch line is that the love comes through me, not from me -- the work is to become translucent enough for the Love to shine through. Sometimes I forget that, but the “energy” reminds me, believe me.
The psychologist, Carol Gilligan, outlined four major stages of female moral development, which she called selfish, care, universal care, and integrated. Other words for those stages may be egocentric – “I care only for myself”; ethnocentric – “I care for my tribe, my country, my nation”; worldcentric – “I care for all human beings, regardless of race, color, sex, or creed”; and finally what another psychologist calls kosmocentric – where the individual experiences integration of both the masculine and feminine, and I would add, extend care to all sentient beings without exception.
Unconditional love exists – it’s the very fabric of our existence. However, how (or if) one experiences and manifests unconditional love depends totally at what stage of development you have arrived and that is where the responsibility comes in. It’s not enough to mouth words about unconditional love, one has to put in the effort to evolve and grow through the stages above and awaken to and become that love. Love, the essentially unconditional nature of genuine love, isn’t a feeling or something you fall helplessly into – it’s a state of being that progresses as you open your heart to the world of conditions.
Love is the one perfect thing in an imperfect world.
My sincere wish and hope is that you -- the reader -- will have a long and slow, loving process of growth.