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in these anecdotal,
sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of Life...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Do I *Really* Want To Love...?


That was the surprising question that arose as I was watching a documentary called “Cultivating Loving Awareness” on video the day after Thanksgiving.  The question for me means:  Am I willing to surrender to what Love asks of me?  I *say* I want to be a presence of Love, but I continue to *react* with frustration to the challenges of family dynamics and living life – wanting it to be different than it is.

The video is essentially about unconditional love.  And while watching it, after the usual frustrating Thanksgiving family experience, it hit me that I really am unable to love in that way – unconditionally; not able to see very clearly with the eyes of the Heart. There wasn’t a lot of that growing up.  We were wired to be critical, to judge, to be opinionated, to correct others we deem wrong, to defend our sense of self, to want things to be the way we want them, to get *others* to be the way we want them to be, to hold ourselves separate from “others”- and to fight others to maintain that sense of separateness.  You know, the typical American family, which sounds a lot like the world we see right now. J  Our minds and hearts have been wired by fear, not open-hearted unconditional love – mainly because most of us didn’t receive that kind of love growing up, but were raised by fearful beings who had no clue what unconditional love was like themselves!  But it occurred to me that my family dynamic, as it is now, has become the vehicle for unconditional love to be learned, for this crusty shell of a heart to break open – by being presented with challenging family/life situations – and - being *willing* to be opened by them.  It means giving up my mental images and expectations of how I want “family” (or the world) to be.

But do I really *want* to love unconditionally - to allow Love to open me?  Or - do I just want to continue to complain about how it is, and play my role in the drama – which is much easier to do… Loving unconditionally takes awareness and consciousness, a break in the personality patterns, a willingness to want to step out of the usual dynamic of relating.  And I am at a point where I am really looking at this, as it doesn’t appear that “unconditional love” is suddenly bestowed like fairy dust just because one *wants* to be loving, or because one is on a “spiritual path” – even though I know that’s where it leads.  For now, it seems that *opportunities* are being presented to open the heart *through* navigating the difficult dynamics of family and life.  At least that’s how I see it this week J

Recently I caught myself in this little mind game of wanting someone else to *do* something *about* her life situation, so the rest of us don’t have to suffer the consequences of her choices.  I have not been able to just love this person unconditionally, just allowing her to be who she is, but want her to conform to what *I* want her to be, or to do – so that her life doesn’t impact me (and others) in a negative way; a self-centered motivation that only keeps me spinning my wheels - and suffering.  And of course, I am getting nowhere with her either in this way.  She continues to be who she is, to do life the way she does, and I continue to want her to be something other than that.  And nothing is happening.

It also occurred to me, after watching the film, that maybe all she really needs is to be loved as she is…  Isn’t that what we are really looking for – this unconditional love – this all embracing acceptance for who we are – warts and all – being seen, and loved anyway; the full monty of open-hearted LOVE!!!   But opening the heart fully to another in this way feels scary and vulnerable when one is used to hiding their heart…  But that *is* the path…

So I guess the real question is:  Am I willing to surrender and let go into Love?  Am I willing to be opened to that Love… What if I knew my Self as loving awareness?  What would that feel like?  I don’t know… But maybe it’s worth finding out…


“We affect others by loving them.”

Ram Dass



Photo: Yes, those are little heart leaves :)
Cottonwood tree leaves are heart shaped...



6 comments:

  1. just an amazing photo. and your words read deeply into my heart. we have an NPR radio program here on sunday mornings called "On Being" with Christa Tippet and today she interviewed Renee Brown who is writing and talking a lot about vulnerability. You can find this tlak on the On Being website and also a video of Renee B's TED talk.

    to not try to control, that is to delve into our own vulnerability, to reveal thatpart of self to ourselves and others. Renee says it is in struggle that we become who we are, our best yet vulneralble selves. it is through struggle that we are courageous. i am typing with cat on my lap and arm so spelling is off.

    anyway a thought ful post.

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    1. Very interesting Suki! Thanks for the references. I will check them out as well. And I just started reading the little book you sent me by Pema Chodron, where she talks of softening the hardened heart through realizing we are the same as those we hate... That's very humbling...

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  2. It is hard to learn a kind of love that most of us didn't grow up with. I was struck by what Krishna Das said in that documentary about the dynamics of Indian families vs. (some? most?) American families - how they can fight and express themselves without it turning into a "well you must not love me if you don't agree with everything I say and stand for" situation. It seems to me though that there is a fine line between having "unconditional love" towards others and accepting where they are at and respecting one's own needs and not being taken advantage of. Complicated!

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    1. Yes, I remember that part too, where they did not turn their hearts *against* each other. I think that is the key - keeping the heart open, and not taking anything personally. And like the quote that you posted today about staying neutral :) I know in my family we seem to function from the personality a lot that gets hurt and feels defensive. But when we *know* that we are this Loving Awareness, then we can let others be who they are (which I think was also the point of the film). And yet, as you say, not allow ourselves to be sucked into the vortex of their unconscious behavior - but we have compassion for them and still take care of our selves... Thanks for the insightful comment! :)

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