“We all long to be seen and understood, to be valued and honoured, and to be loved for exactly who we are.” Karla McLaren, The Art of Empathy
As I read this opening line of Karla’s book, I was dumbfounded. I closed the book and put it away. Whatever else Karla had to say would have to wait. I needed time to digest these powerful words that hit me like a gale and blew me away.
The more I thought about it the more I realised that here, in one short sentence, was captured the entirety of human struggle.
Just imagine being able to see, understand, value and honour someone for exactly who they are… Isn’t that the essence of Love? I mean, Real Love?
Yes, there is love and there is Real Love.
Most of the time, when we say “I love you” what we mean is “I appreciate and honour you, so long as you fulfill my fantasies of who you should be and how you should behave”.
There is much grief and suffering created by that kind of love.
Whether between spouses, parents and children, siblings or even sweethearts, the lower case love is what keeps psychiatrists, psychologists and most other therapists in business.
Real Love is selfless. It is unconditional. It is all about the other person. There’s no “what’s in it for me” in Real Love.
Unconditional love is hard to come by. We are all but beginner-learners when it comes to unconditional love, and we have a long way to go.
Not even our own children, even new-born babies, as stronger feelings as they elicit, are loved fully for who or what they are.
There’s always that ‘my’ part before the ‘baby’ that points right back at our own ego.
The closest we, ordinary humans, come to unconditional love is when we look at baby animals.
We don’t really care when we look at, say, a tiger cub, if it’s ours or not – all little cubs are cute.
Our ego is mostly out of the way and we can appreciate the little creatures just as they are and for no other reason.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus is sometimes depicted with a lamb in his arms? It symbolizes his unconditional love for all Humanity. The next time you hear that we are ‘His flock’ don’t take offense, it’s just a metaphor for unconditional love.
What is Love? I’ve been asking this question for years. Of friends, colleagues, ordinary people, famous people, spiritual teachers – you name it.
The answers ranged from ‘it just is’ to long-winded treatises, the ones that make you really regret asking. I found no answers that satisfied. Until now.
It turns out to be very simple (thank you Karla McLaren!): Love is seeing, understanding, valuing and honouring someone just the way he or she is.
Simple, but not easy. We all look at the world through the goggles of our ego.
Unconditional love requires the Lover to be pure within him or herself.
This is why self-purification is the best thing you can do for those you love and the rest of the world, too.
We come into this world to learn Unconditional Love – to see each other exactly as we are, through the eyes of God.
May we all be diligent students..