It’s important to recognize that all the emotional and psychological wounding we carry with us from the past is relational in nature: It has to do with not feeling fully loved. And it happened in our earliest relationships — with our caretakers — when our brain and body were totally soft and impressionable. As a result, the ego’s relational patterns have largely developed as protection schemes to insulate us from the vulnerable openness that love entails. In relationship the ego acts as a survival mechanism for getting needs met while fending off the threat of being hurt, manipulated, controlled, rejected, or abandoned in ways we were as a child. This is normal and totally understandable. Yet if it’s the main tenor of a relationship, it keeps us locked into complex strategies of defensiveness and control that undermine the possibility of deeper connection. Thus to gain greater access to the gold of our nature in relationship, a certain alchemy is required: the refining of our conditioned defensive patterns.
John Welwood, Intimate Relationship as a Spiritual Crucible
We can develop a love that is steadfast and universal. We develop it not because we force ourselves to love so fully. Rather, we discover that loving unconditionally is the greatest source of joy, and that we are the loser for any hesitation or interruption in that love, such as “I would really love you if you would just do your share of the cooking, if you would just do this, if you would be like that.”
Whenever we hesitate like that, we lose. This helps me remember not to mortgage away any of my days by having a grudge or a grievance or making myself distant. That would simply cause a rupture in that steadfast, universal love that is so joyful.
Love is an activity, not a passive affect; it is a “standing in,” not a “falling for.”
In the most general way, the active character of love can be described by stating that love is primarily giving, not receiving.
We need patience in relationships to really grow and know another person, to grow into our own stories and really listen to the stories of another. This allows a new story to emerge as the interweaving of two lives. Calm patience, letting go of any forcing in the now, as we allow something deeper to come in the future.
To learn to live with the unavoidability of the other is to learn to be patient. Such patience comes not just from our inability to have the other do our will; more profoundly, it arises with the love that the presence of the other can and does create in us. Our loves, like our bodies, signal our death. And such love – if it is not to be fearful of its loss, a very difficult thing – must be patient. Moreover, patience sustains and strengthens love, for it opens to us the time we need to tell our own story with another’s story intertwined and to tell it together with that other. So told, the story in fact constitutes our love.
Hauerwas and Pinches, Christians Among the Virtues
Meditation practice is about dropping into a non-doing mode, where we do not have to be someone or achieve something. In this way it echoes the sense of rest found in close relationships – a place we can simply be ourselves, where we can be weak, without having to prove our worth or impress anyone:
Power and cleverness call forth admiration but also a certain separation, a sense of distance; we are reminded of who we are not, of what we cannot do. On the other hand, sharing weaknesses and needs calls us together into “oneness”. We welcome those who love us into our heart. In this communion, we discover the deepest part of our being: the need to be loved and to have someone who trusts and appreciates us and who cares least of all about our capacity to work or to be clever and interesting. When we discover we are loved in this way, the masks or barriers behind which we hide are dropped; new life flows. We no longer have to prove our worth; we are free to be ourselves. We find a new wholeness, a new inner unity.
Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learn.
The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back in our hearts.
Love is the essential reality and our purpose on earth.
To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life.
Meaning does not lie in things. Meaning lies in us.