In teaching the Deeper Love seminars over the last twelve years, we have had the opportunity to work with countless single people, who were looking to bring a more conscious and healthy relationship into their lives. Particularly, for some reason, we have worked with a lot of single women.
When someone tells me they want to reach the highest peaks of enlightenment, it sounds very impressive, but leaves me somewhat blah. If someone tells me they want to make a huge difference in the world – end poverty or solve environmental challenges – I am impressed, and I do my best to help. But whenever someone says: “I want to love deeply, I want to open my heart beyond all defenses, I want to love fully with all of me,” that gets me every time. I cannot resist but to offer everything I have to give.
In the course of helping so many different people enter into healthy relationship, I have discovered two very popular and pervasive myths that hold back the possibility of real, mature intimacy. I am going to share them both with you today.
I meet many single people (particularly women) who have the idea that the only problem they face in relationship is that, due to some unfair quirk of fate, they have not yet found the one person on the planet who will make them eternally happy. This is the myth of the soulmate: the idea that you were born in this life with some kind of “soul twin” wandering around out there somewhere, and if the two of you could just reunite, everything will be magically perfect.
This is a very romantic fantasy: the stuff of teenage pulp fiction. It is a dangerous belief, which, in my opinion, keeps us stuck in an immature phase of development. I am lucky enough to be in a deep, nurturing and inspiring marriage, and so are many of my friends. I do not hear anybody, who has actually built and sustained a good relationship, talking about a soulmate. It is a dangerous idea because it suggests that all the problems you have had in relationship, up till now, were simply because of not finding this perfect person.
There are no perfect people. There is no knight in shining armor who will one day arrive on a white horse and sweep you off your feet.
In my experience, people are, more or less, all the same under the window dressing. We all have strengths, we all have weaknesses. We all have aspirations, our highest potential, and we also have our distractions and even destructive tendencies. The art of loving deeply is not to find the right person, but to become the right person. It means to learn the art of loving whoever is before you in this moment. To love so completely that the things you like about them, and the things you don’t like, are equally opportunities to open your heart even more and to love without conditions.
I have been with Chameli for thirteen years. There are days, or at least moments, where she does appear to be the perfect one, the one I have always been looking for, the one who can make me whole and complete again. Blah blah blah. Of course she usually seems like that right after we have had great sex. There are equally times when she irritates the hell out of me. Then she appears to be positively demonic, as though her primarily role on the planet is to make me miserable. In such moments the idea that she is my soulmate seems blatantly absurd. The point is, you see, that we have made our relationship into a practice. Equally, in the peaks of euphoria, and the depths of ice cold hatred, we have learned how to keep showing up, again and again, with honesty, with listening, and with the aspiration to embody love more and more.
So if you are single and you would like to be in a wonderful relationship with another human being, I suggest you completely abandon the idea of finding the perfect lover and instead strive to become the perfect lover.
Who is Trying to Love Whom?
The second myth, equally dangerous in my opinion, that holds people back from enjoying relaxed and delicious intimacy, is the idea that before you can love somebody else, you have to first learn to love yourself. Utter hogwash. I have a great marriage that becomes more and more delightful daily; I enjoy wonderful relationships with both of my adult children; and, I am lucky to have off-the-charts wonderful friends. I feel oodles of love for all these people, and I have absolutely no idea what the term “loving yourself” is supposed to mean. Equally, all the people I know, whose lives are overflowing with love and good times, also cannot relate to the term.
Here is how it is for me and see how it fits for you. When the attention is turned inwards towards subjectivity, towards “me”, I find infinite empty space. It has no boundaries, it has no distinguishing characteristics at all. It is just awareness. It does not seem to be some kind of altered state or higher attainment. It is just the sober reality of what is actually true. Anyone I have guided into deep enquiry has discovered the same space as well. There is nothing to hold on to there, nothing to love, it is like the sky.
When the attention turns outwards, to the world of color, texture and shape, there is the possibility to see beauty. The more that the spaciousness of pure awareness is clear, the more the outer world looks beautiful. So if the attention rests for a moment on Chameli, my wife, she looks incredibly beautiful. If I look into her eyes, I see that same infinite space looking back at me. And that, dear friends, is what I would call love. Anything else needs another word: attachment, sentimentality, familiarity.
The experience of love requires the appearance of another in order for it to become manifest. You cannot do that with yourself, because when you try to find yourself, it has no form.
There was an unfortunate, poor bastard in Greece who was happily living his life in the way that I have described: seeing beauty around him and feeling love. And then, unfortunately, he bent over to look into a clear and still lake. He saw his own reflection. And then he fell in love with what he saw. He started to feel love for his own reflection. His name was Narcissus. But this is a pathology, not something to aspire towards. Freud wrote books about how to recover from such an affliction, not how to cultivate it.
Sure, all of us have been conditioned with negative self-talk. “I’m not smart enough, I’m not beautiful enough, I’m too fat or too thin, I’m selfish, I’m lazy.” It is a splendid idea to find simple tools to let go of such unnecessary thinking. We do that very well in Awakening Coaching. But there is no need to replace those statements with sparkly new ones instead. Much better just to rest in being love itself, and let that love delight in the beauty of everything you see around you.
So that is my story and I am sticking to it. Give up looking for the perfect mate, no such person exists. Become a little more curious about your own true nature. Explore the uncharted territory of infinite awareness. And then, when you look at the world with fresh eyes, you will see beauty everywhere around you. Focus that attention on one specific lucky human incarnation (and there are many, many, candidates who qualify) and you have got yourself a relationship, and a dojo in which to practice and cultivate deeper love.