Love. My great passion, the creator and destroyer of Life. I celebrate Love today more deeply and with more respect than ever before. I acknowledge the shattering of past illusions and the pain which has been part of my learning – and ask for it’s release now. I have no shame in asking for forgiveness, for myself, and for my heart so that I can forgive those who have hurt me and also those whom I have hurt. I understand that true love is already in my heart, and that no-one can ever take that away.
One of my favorite quotes comes from the film “Adaptation” and goes: “You are what you love, not what loves you.” As we weave our way through the crazy tangle of love and all its incumbent emotional stratospheres, it can be so easy to get lost, to give up hope of ever being able to maintain that idyllic state we refer to as Love. We all crave and need love, it is a fundamental human desire, and there is nothing inherently wrong with that- indeed, it is what brings us together and keeps the human race going. However, as we move through life, connecting to different people and diving into love in a myriad of different ways, we inevitably discover the dark side of the rose, the pain and heartache of loss and disappointment. We learn that romantic love is dangerous – if only in that our happiness now seems to be dependent on another – and with that comes a vulnerability that can so easily make us feel powerless over our own emotions. Many of us struggle to maintain power over our emotions, to keep a balance in our relationships between giving and receiving, between passion and reason, between domination and surrender. We begin to see that it is extremely difficult to retain purity of heart, that all sorts of deep (often unconscious) desires and fears can get in the way of loving. Not least, our egos start playing the game, demanding this and that symbol as proof of love. We crave the trappings of love, the gifts, flowers, words, signs that our culture has taught us are indicative of true love.
Valentine’s Day would have to be the penultimate example of this powerful cultural belief system. Red roses perhaps the pinnacle – delivered anonymously to your doorstep. Now do we feel loved? Sure – and our ego self swells with success. But what a precarious foundation for Love, for if the roses don’t arrive the next time, or if the lover disappoints (as lovers are bound to do, we are all sadly a step away from perfection..) in some way, then what does it all mean? That love is here today, gone tomorrow, as fragile and temporary as the rose itself. Nothing lasts forever, and the only thing constant is change. Add to that the fact that the ego self will always want more, need more reassurance, more signs and symbols of love, and you begin to get an idea of the fragility that our romantic conception of love is based on. The truth is that no-one can ever fulfill the cavernous hunger for love that resides within us- we can only fill that ourselves. When roses arrive, let them be a beautiful gift of the moment, a celebration of love – but not love itself.
Okay, let’s just take a moment to contemplate the profundity of that claim, shall we. There is no shortage of cliches surrounding this concept. Walk into any New Age shop, read any book on love or spirituality, and you will get pretty much the same message: Love yourself first. You can only love another when you truly love yourself. I give tarot readings to women all the time who are having difficulties with love, and no matter what the issue, it ALWAYS comes back to this crucial principle. The funny thing is, when most women hear this, you can see their eyes glaze over before they ask, “Yes, yes, but does he love me? Can we look again at the cards to see how he’s feeling about me?” We are so indoctrinated to believe that love comes from an external source, from someone else, that the concept of true love coming from within us, actually originating in our self, is almost impossible for most people to fully believe. True love is when you realize that your heart is open to love the world around you, that it is not limited to being ‘in love’ with just one person – Love is infinite and connects us from within to all around us.
True love cannot be given or taken away from us. It resides in us and connects us to all Life on this planet and beyond. It is the Source, the alpha and the omega, the place of peace where it is quiet and far from the ranting and raving of the ego. True love doesn’t require signs or symbols, nor does it require another person’s affirmation in order to maintain itself. It is filled with such powerful light and beautiful shadows, a landscape of infinite possibility and freedom. When you feel this Love, you are impervious to the ever-changing behaviour and emotions of others. You exist in Love and know deeply and instinctively that you cannot be separated from it, because you ARE that same energy. It blows the ego to smithereens, the crazy voices go skyrocketing into the black night sky, to become stars.
Once you know the difference between real Love and the other cheap imitations, you have the opportunity to cultivate it – to get to know yourself. In the Tarot,the 8 of Cups portrays this journey which unfolds over a lifetime. Self love is something most of us have to learn to do, and something which needs to be cherished and nurtured gently into being, for it requires overcoming the inner demons who would blame us (and others), tell us we are not good enough or worthy enough, that evil little voice that would separate us from Love forever. It would be nice if our moment of awakening to Love just transformed us immediately and we became impervious to the ego, pain and frustration that accompanies most relationships at some stage, but mostly we slip right back into old, entrenched patterns and ways of thinking and behaving. We know deep down that all these games are illusory but still, we get sucked back in and find ourselves overwhelmed and in the maze again – wanting love, chasing love, giving up on love, cursing love, being surprised by love and falling in love again. In Buddhism this particular kind of desire is seen as highly detrimental to one’s soul development and those who are caught in it’s craziness are called “Hungry Ghosts”. Mmmmm… the hunger that cannot be satiated. The quick fix that wears off sooner or later and leaves the love junkie desperate for some new kind of kick. Love?
Anyway, I could write about this topic forever, but I’ll swing it back to the beginning and the simple but profound quote which in essence, reminds us that real love is an awakening to our own self, our own heart and it’s ability to love others, regardless of their emotions, behaviour or anything else. Love is not given and taken away like something that can be earned or bartered. We cannot control others, nor should we want to if we really love them. We can let go of our fear only when we let go of our dependence on another’s love, only when we realize that it is within us already, and here to stay. Now THAT is true power. Happy Valentine’s Day everybody, may your roses be of the deepest red and the sweetest fragrance and may Aphrodite bless you, kiss you and delight you. Breathe it in!