Note: The Playing Hide-and-Seek series outlines a model of reality that has the potential to lead us toward Awakening. Please remember that it is only a model, and does not attempt to describe reality. Nothing on this site should be accepted as a belief – instead, it should serve as a means to guide our minds out of the symbolic and toward a direct perception of reality.
How can we find unconditional love, and how does it transform our world?
Expanded Love vs. Unconditional Love
Often, expanding our sense of love can be mistaken for unconditional love. In expanding our sense of love, we learn some beautiful things, but there is yet another step before we find true, unconditional Agape.
Expanding our love comes with the realization that love is a renewable resource par excellance. In fact, love has the remarkable property of expanding with use. The more you love, the more love you have to give. A wonderful practice can be made out of putting this to the test. See how much you can love, and see if you ever begin to run low. I can guarantee you won’t.
One of the most transformational practices you can partake in is to practice love toward your ‘enemies’. This can mean anyone who has harmed you, even if only in a psychic manner. Near where I live, there are huge corporations attempting to come in and destroy people’s land through mining. It’s easy to have ill feelings toward these companies, as well as toward the people who sell their land to them in the hopes of making a million dollars at the expense of everyone around them. This level of greed and disrespect is easy to hate. But what happens when we practice loving these people? Your ‘enemy’ might be someone who says something mean to you, or your boss at work, or your spouse. It might be your son or daughter, or a military dictator, or your bank. It might even be yourself.
Stop. Sit down, and notice the feelings of tension that accompany those ill feelings. Breathe right into that tension. Feel where it is, give it your full attention, and feel it for what it truly is. Now, send your love to the enemy. Not pity or compassion or wishes that they would ‘see the light’. Just pure, unadulterated love, with no conditions attached.
One client of mine watched a movie where people were being terribly cruel to animals. He became filled with hatred toward those people. What do you think happened when he watched the movie again, trying to send love toward ever person he saw? What would happen if you sent love toward everyone that now seems deserving of contempt, hatred, or scorn?
Beyond Expansion – Finding Unconditional Love
Expanding our love takes effort. Like all the myriad things of dualism, we must work hard to maintain them as a reality in our world. But true, unconditional love is different. Like everything non-dual, it is completely effortless. Why?
Because unconditional love is your natural state of being.
Our “civilized” (read as “domesticated”) culture teaches us that love must come with conditions. We’ve been taught that humans are only motivated through reward and punishment, and that our intrinsic selves are dangerous, brutal, and untrustworthy. In the realm of love, this means that love must be deserved, and we love others and ourselves based on their actions, and our own perceptions of their worthiness. Of course, in this negatively-based system, most people are going to fall short. That’s why our relationships with others are often characterized by divorce, conflict, or tolerance. That’s why our relationship with ourselves is often characterized by nonconstructive self-criticism, stress, anxiety, and even depression. These are the seeds we’ve planted by blindly following our culture’s teachings. But we all have the choice to find another way.
That other way has been spoken about by sages since the time we humans began domesticating each other. They recognized the damage our dualistic, conditional world-view does to ourselves and the planet, and have striven to urge us toward a direct relationship with our most intrinsic selves.
Yet the road isn’t easy. And the reason it isn’t easy is because it is effortless. Part of the dualistic teaching we’ve all absorbed is that nothing can be gained without applied effort (leading, again, to the idea that love or other rewards must only be given to those who have applied the most effort). Yet every human being has the potential to discover for themselves what the sages were speaking of. We discover it by releasing our efforts, and discovering for ourselves what remains when our intrinsic self can emerge. When we see this, we come to love ourselves without condition, and furthermore, we immediately recognize it in all others, and cannot help feeling that same, unconditional love for everyone.
There is no practice to gain this manner of loving. A practice may help (be it yoga or meditation or eating ice cream), but only so long as the practice is undertaken as a natural outflow of our being. When we undertake it with the idea of gain, we are only reinforcing the world-view that our efforts are what brings good.
Finding Effortlessness Through Effort
Still, we are so addicted to effort that we can sometimes paradoxically find effortlessness through effort. Take your keen mind and begin looking carefully. Imagine one person, on welfare and sitting at home drinking beer and watching television every day. Go ahead and feel scorn for them. Now imagine another person, selflessly applying themselves to feeding the hungry and bringing medical treatment to those in need. Go ahead and feel love for that person.
Now step back and ask what you really, really know. Do you know what brought each of those people to the place they are? Do you know that there is free will, and that each one is the master of their own destiny? Do you know that sitting at home drinking beer and watching TV is bad? Do you know that feeding the hungry and curing disease is good? Do you know that the reality you are witnessing is really an external reality, and not a creation of your own mind? Do you know that you’re not actually plugged into a mind-altering super-realistic video game and that you’re actually feeling scorn or love for 3-D pixels?
What do you really, truly know?
If you examine this fully, letting your mind rest on no assumptions, you’ll discover how much we rest our ideas of the world on a foundation made of clouds. Ask yourself if the effort of feeling scorn or hate or stress or tension is really a worthwhile expenditure of your time and energy. If you decide that it’s fruitless to expend scorn or hate or tension in this way, then perhaps you will suddenly release that tension and effort. And in that moment, in that very moment, you will experience what is left when the effort disappears.
All that is left is love.