We all have at some point in life experienced love. It may be the love of people, of animals or even plant forms, of things, activities and so on.
The message with this post is that there is essentially only one form of love and that is self-love and it is this self- love that is reflected by the external world that feels like ‘love’ to us.
Lets me share some examples to illustrate this:
1. A parent’s love for the child is one of the highest emotions of love experienced. Why does one feel this love so intensely in one’s own child and not another’s? This is so because a parent sees his or her own image in the child. The child reflects your own likeness, giving the impression that it is very much part of your own self, who has come from you. This is parental love.
2. Our love for our partners is also similar. When we see in our partner the expression of values that we hold as dear, we feel love. Even in love-at-first-sight, you hit a chord that feels familiar and yours. As if the two souls have always been one, as the expression goes. Our partners become our better halves.
3. Our love for things: all of us love somethings more than others. Some people love their home, their cars, bikes, wealth, wardrobe, property and so on simply because it enhances their self-image.
4. Our love for recognition is also a form of self-love. When we get promoted at work, awarded for our contribution, rewarded for our performance or applauded for any reason, we feel good about ourselves. It gives us self-confidence and jacks up our self-respect.
In all these examples, we can see how externally directed love is essentially a seeking of our own internal self. These examples show that under certain circumstances or conditions, we are able to see the reflection of our own self in others and that makes us happy. We see in others an extension of ourselves. We see ourselves in others and others as part of ourselves. And doesn’t it bring immense happiness? Even tears of joy at times?
Unfortunately, this way of finding love outside is fraught with uncertainty and frustration too. Why? Because we get hooked to this way of seeking love, to this reflection and expect it to last all the time, even forever.
When circumstances change, we are no longer able to see ourselves reflected in another and hence there is no acknowledgement of love. Our own children feel alien when they disrespect and misbehave with us, our own partners feel despicable when they cheat on us, our own friends feel like strangers when they work against our values and our own work feels like drudgery and status like burden when they stop rewarding us.
Our yearning for love is legitimate and a privilege. But when we do not understand that in reality, it originates in us, that it resides in us, a vicious cycle of seeking, finding, control and frustration begins.
Like the musk deer that carries the mysterious fragrance in its own glands and yet looks everywhere for it, we seek love and want to somehow find, possess, control and manipulate it to serve us. The truth is that like a lamp in the darkness, our own self lights up the world around us, the objects we experience merely reflecting our own light.
This doesn’t mean we should not have children, partners, professions or comforts. We only need to have the maturity of understanding that they merely reflect what we already are. We are happiness in pursuit. If we think we are in pursuit of happiness outside, then we have to content with occasional, circumstantial and reflected happiness.
Once we understand that all the seeking of love is essentially seeking of self-love, we can feel love even when we are not seeking it and in places where we are not looking.
A word of warning here: do not mistake self-love for narcissism. A narcissist makes an object of oneself too, treating himself or herself as an outside person or object. A narcissist has a distorted self-image based on a false reality, where he or she sees one’s qualities in an amplified form; feeding on the admiration of others. Narcissists feed on praise and recognition by others and have no real achievement or quality of value. They project a fake image of themselves turning a blind eye to their flaws and shortcomings. Their self-love is shallow and this also makes them incapable of loving others.
True self-love is grounded in reality, not in social media likes or or praise. In Self-love, one takes full responsibility of one’s own wellbeing.
This self-love can be discovered through self-inquiry alone: by looking within and witnessing the play of our emotions, motivations and actions, by finding a place of rest within us, where nothing can hurt us or disturb us. Understanding that all love of the external world is ephemeral and incidental and that it is a reflection of our own self which remains hidden, like light in a cloud of smoke or Sun behind clouds. It is this sunshine that allows us to truly love others and share happiness.
Thus, there is only one love which is reflected in various colours and shapes and flavours of our desires. Find people who have already found themselves in this manner and ask them to help you find it yourself. This is the only way.
The light that is capable of reflecting love, bringing ultimate happiness, security and peace is within you. Discover that light. Seek yourself. Once it is found, the seeking itself ends. Leaving you only radiating the love, that you already are. This love then follows you wherever you can go, rubbing itself onto all the lives you touch.