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Love is …? (redux)


“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” – Thomas Merton.

As I’ve mentioned before, I think much that passes for ‘love’ is actually narcissism. It’s impossible to know more than a fraction of another human being and what we do know is inevitably distorted by perceptual biases – especially our hopes, fears, desires and expectations. We don’t really fall in love with other people. We fall for the simplified and distorted image of them we have built up in our own mind. We are loving part of ourselves.

True love is unconditional. It doesn’t depend upon its object for sustenance. If you love unconditionally you will love all things equally. How many of us can make that claim?

Self love is ultimately empty because the self is empty. Perhaps that points the way to a means of attaining true love.

If you don’t perceive things in terms of subject and object, self and other, there is no distinction to be made. No object means no objectification. If you love anything you will love everything.

Sure enough, this seems to be supported by the ‘experience’ of non-dualism. Those who claim to have been in that state often report a feeling of overwhelming love towards everyone and everything. Maybe that’s what mystics mean when they say “God is Love”.

It seems to me that a truly comprehensive dualistic perception of reality might also allow the possibility of unconditional love. If you can see that you and the universe are reflections of each other, completely interdependent with mutual causes and effects fitting together perfectly, you will see there is no difference between narcissistic love and universal love. Your relationship with the universe is the mirror of the universe’s relationship with you. One is simply the complement of the other.

So maybe finding unconditional love is as simple as getting yourself out of the way and letting it flow. With no apprehension of self and other there is no distinction between giving and receiving. With complete apprehension of  self and other, all you give will be reflected back upon you.


Thanks to Jack Saunsea for the inspiration and the Merton quote.

From → mysticism, narcissism

  1. I wonder if Heaven and Hell are inevitable products of dualism.

    If you reflect the universe and the universe reflects you then your ‘starting position’ will tend to determine the outcome. Look upon everything with love and everything will look upon you with love, providing a self-amplifying feedback loop of adoration.

    But if you start out by looking upon everything with hatred or fear …

    Liked by 1 person

    • me..they are metaphor for illusory hope and fear.. And awakening to truth in analogy and metaphor makes heaven now as illusory doubts..fears..and hope are a great source of all human suffering away from balance.. But balance includes desire repress..oppress..human emotion..and human sexuality can also pave a road to REAL human hell..escaping nature is the Grand illusion..and A road to hell..and from a problem solving perspective the irony is delicious..what many people see as dark is mask of light..;)


    • So…..I suppose a fuck’s out of the question?


  2. Beautiful and Rings True to me.. This Love is real..Unconditional..Sacred..boundless..Truth..:) the interdependent relationship of all IT IS..where seperation is the REAL illusion..:)aka as that 3 letter word 2..;)


  3. I think you hit it on the nose…true, unconditional love can only happen if you take yourself out of the equation. Once you love someone/something for what they are, and only what they are, then you have found something you love beyond measure.


  4. Can unconditional love be defined more perfectly than that ? I wonder.


  5. ” much that passes for ‘love’ is actually narcissism”

    I have a good friend who uses the term “place holder” for this. People become “place holders” for some urge inside the person at issue who needs to express that urge. Usually they are of a selfish nature and hence it is narcissistic.

    Your post gets me thinking about Sat-Chit-Ananda: the Vendanta concept of God, Unity, Brahman, whatever you want to call it. I often dwell on the Sat-Chit part. I don’t think I have ever written about the Ananda part. This would be the “God is Love” part of the trinity.

    It seems to me the concept and emotions of loving anything only make sense relative to a relative ego. For, if one is everything, what is there to love? Would that be empty self-love? I don’t know, am just asking.

    In some of my psychedelic experiences I have felt extreme emotions that might be “glimpses” of Ananda. But I hesitate to call them “love”. They are more a sense of incredible amusement and happiness, an immense sense of kinship, but an ironical one. As if all the shadows can love each other. A sense of awe and amazement. That is more what it was like for me: a vast sense of awe.

    When one starts to touch the deeper levels, it makes the ego feel really small and insignificant. Feel as in the sense of an emotion. That vast feeling of being infinity small leads to the awe, which sparks a vast flow of happiness and an incredible sense of incredible-ness at the freakishness of it all.

    Anyway, once again, thanks for stimulating buried stuff and helping bring it back to the surface.



    • Ananda is usually translated as ‘transcendental bliss’ rather than ‘divine love’, though like many Sanskrit terms it doesn’t map easily onto English. I named one of my rabbits Ananda.

      Some of my own altered state experiences have had qualities that seem very similar to that which you describe and if they’re not ananda then I really don’t know what the word means at all. The irony is all ‘self’ directed though. The delusion of self becomes kinda ridiculous and funny. Or as I’ve put it elsewhere, I finally got the joke and it was all on ‘me’.


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