The kind of love I am going totalk about is a lot different from the love that most of us know and have experienced since our childhood. It has nothing to do with the love that depends on our actions, our behavior or the love that is the result of somegive and take. I am going to talk about unconditional love.
Some of you may protest by saying that all or at least most of us have experienced unconditional love in childhood, which is the love we received from our parents and grandparents or from other close relatives and friends and I will not deny it. Some of us have become parents and know from experience that a parent’s love is unconditional.
I just have some questions for you:
-Did it feel as such at the time?
-As a child, could you feel your parents’ unconditional love when you were being punished for misbehaving or for bringing home bad marks?
-Did you associate your parents’ love with good or acceptable behavior?
If you have answered YES to all these questions, I am very happy for you. It means that you grew up in an emotionally secure environment and you have learned that you are worthy of love no matter what. It also means that you know your value as a human being and you do not let people take advantage of you, manipulate you or emotionally blackmail you. You love yourself in a healthy way (the kind of way that respects others and does not sacrifice them at the altar of self-satisfaction) and you are capable of loving others unconditionally.
For the rest of us, let me share with you its definition as it appears on Wikipedia:
Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations, or love without conditions. This term is sometimes associated with other terms such as true altruism or complete love. Each area of expertise has a certain way of describing unconditional love, but most will agree that it is that type of love which has no bounds and is unchanging. It is a concept comparable to true love, a term which is generally used to describe love between lovers. Unconditional love is also used to describe love between family members, comrades in arms and between others in highly committed relationships. An example of this is a parent’s love for their child; no matter a test score, a life changing decision, an argument, or a strong belief, the amount of love that remains between this bond is seen as unchanging and unconditional.
At first sight, when it comes to forgiveness, it seems impossible. How can we love, unconditionally, someone who has hurt us? Someonewho is responsible for our suffering?
Nevertheless, having practicedsteps 1-4, it does not seem impossible anymore. When we manage to accept that what is done is done, to comprehend that it was not against us personally and feel indifferent when we think about it, we can feel compassion for ourselves and for our “enemy”.
Finally, some of us might even feel love for that person. Not love for what he/she has done, not love for his/her behavior but love for whom they were meant to be when they incarnated on this planet, love for their soul, the type of love that does not depend on conditions. And as with everything else we want to learn and apply in our lives, whether it be a new language, knowledge, a new skill or behavior, the keyword is yet again PRACTICE!!!
Practice accepting yourself, comprehending yourself, feeling compassion for yourself and, finally, practice loving yourself unconditionally, loving yourself despite your flaws, despite the mistakes that you have made, despite who you would like to be but are not yet. That is the only way that you can be who you are meant to be. A compassionate, loving presence on earth, lighting your light on others with your example and not just with your words.
“Unconditional love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being. It is not so much an active emotion as a state of being. It’s not ‘I love you’ for this or that reason, not ‘I love you if you love me.’ It’s love for no reason, love without an object.”
— Ram Dass
I do not know how many of us will finally get there. How many of us will finally get to love themselves unconditionally so as to be able to love others in the same way. What I do know is that it is possible. Difficult but possible. So why do we not give it a try?
If we fail, there is no harm done. We do not have to beat ourselves up over it. We should accept ourselves and show compassion towards ourselves comprehending that we are not ready and that is ok.
If we succeed, our lives will never be the same again…