For one human being to love another: this is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. - Rilke
If we step just slightly to the left of love…away from the biological imperatives that seem to be at the root of how we first traverse the path to the cemetery of lost love…away even from the little immortality machines of children and legacy…where do we land? What is our marker for knowing the presence of love versus the craving for resolution or the childlike demand for immortality? What is it to know love?
At its core love must always be a returning to the most essential aspect of the human condition. The condition of entropy, the existential truth curled up within the awareness of our bounded physical existence. Love demands an externalization of our symbolic interior landscape and its demand becomes our vehicle for transcendence or transfiguration. We transform within our longing to connect, to expand beyond the confines of body and then mind, we love out of the deepest spiritual directive…union.
What many of us fail to recognize is the externalization of love is like the haunting howl of some distant animal. We hear the call to love and respond to its inner echo on some primitive level without actually honoring its message for our soul. In this context love becomes fixed to the idea of “I am,” fixed to the structure of the constructed personality and its limited agency.
For me, physical love has always been bound to an irresistible feeling of innocence and joy. Thus, I cannot love in tears but in exaltation. -Albert Camus
Essentially, when we love we become open to the most illusive aspect of our humanness. We awkwardly attempt to comprehend the reality that before us, within the field of our consciousness, exists another creature, a soul. Then in some subterranean realm of our psyche, we seek to understand to what degree is this other entity akin to us…are they equally conscious and awake in this vast universe. In this way love brings to bear and simultaneously challenges the egos insistence on separate but similar. Most often, it is at this point, where we slide down the gravity well, believing that love is about the body, and the mind’s play with pain and pleasure, fear and desire.
The ultimate truth about love is that it serves as a road map to re-discover the soul…..and with that realization love becomes the greatest gift on our path. It provides us with the context for becoming free from “I am.” Love illuminates the joyful tapestry of the soul and expands us into the discovery that we are ever more than the ego could contain.
At its surface love is simply a mirror or a shiny object for the ego to fascinate on. To the ego love appears to be another tool or door leading to permanence and perpetuation. In fact, the call to love emerges from below the exterior of our constructed personality and its projection, the ego, is powerless in its efforts to hold steady the creative power of its message.
Love begins or exists on the level of soul. So to love another, or many others, one must dip into the meta space, the interior realm of the soul. To love is to reestablish a connection below the surface layers of “I am.” This requires suspending the ego’s preoccupation with activity, attachment to ideas, and judgment (a counter intuitive task). From this space of suspension emerges an unbounded freedom and the opportunity to actually feel the presence of another soul in contact with our own. The map of love, as well as its false starts, is the discovery of true freedom and liberation…not bound by conflict or culture.
When we are able to be safe and at peace within ourselves, we have the capacity to articulate love for the sake of creative expression…for the joy of being awake and alive in the universe…love emerges as a state of awe and wonder…this is unconditional love…love as the simple expression of living. There is no dependency, no external requirement for love to exist, in unconditional love and there can be no attachment to the outcome of its expression. The important element of unconditional love is knowing what lies within the symbolic realm of the inner self.
When love is bounded by ideas it becomes conditional. Conditional love is bound tightly to concepts such as pleasure and pain, success and failure, right and wrong. Conditional love can be deep and fulfilling and it can also be devastating…it is almost always fraught with shame based grief at its terminus. When we attach conditions to love we run the risk of making the depth of our joy conditional as well. This is how we begin to walk down the path of repeating behaviors, compulsivity and depression. Love that does not embrace the entropic nature of the universe becomes dependent and fleeting. Finally conditional love can prevent us from loving at all…for we may never allow ourselves to fall into a space of deep joy…the conditions will never be just so…
To love is ultimately to be free from the idea of love itself. For love to exist it must do so as an expression of living, the doing of love, the daily absurdity of embracing what we must ultimately release…this is the ultimate form of love…seeing the beauty contained within the falling together and falling apart. To be in love is to be free…unconfined…untethered but grounded to the soft animal enveloped in life.