Let the steady flame of unconditional love burn bright in all your relationships.
Everyone wants to love and be loved. It’s a natural and normal impulse, and having loving people around us is necessary for our happiness. Researchers have even found that positive relationships are important for health and longevity. Love is more than just a desire; it is a need.
Yet, so many people struggle with relationships and many people these days find themselves isolated and alone. Much of our popular culture focuses on people finding happiness through romantic relationships and creating strong family relationships, but more and more, this is not our reality.
When Love Becomes Mature
So what is the missing piece? Why are we surrounded by other humans but find it hard to create stable intimate relationships? I think the problem lies in the kind of love that we allow ourselves to feel. When we fall in love with someone, it feels very intense, and in the moment, we believe that it will never end and that we will “live happily ever after,” like in a fairytale. But almost always, that intense infatuation diminishes to some degree over time.
You may have, however, occasionally met an older couple who have been married for forty or fifty years and still seem very happy and loving toward each other. Their words and actions are in sync, and they demonstrate true respect and gratitude toward each other. This is beautiful, but you can be certain that it is not exactly the same as it was when they were twenty-something. So what is the difference between this relationship and the one that ends in divorce or in a lifetime of uncomfortable tension?
Everything in the physical world changes. No relationship can stay in the head-over-heals romantic stage because it is like a roaring fire—it will eventually die down. But unlike a fire, we don’t have to be left with nothing but ash. With the right mindset, we can be left with something even more rare and precious than before. The secret is unconditional love.
Romantic love is often based on physical attraction, mutual flattery, and alignment of personal agendas. As the initial passion subsides, the relationship may continue to be loving if the couple’s intentions remain similar—focusing on kids, buying a house, pursuing mutually supportive careers, sharing similar social goals. But all this is tested if something goes wrong. Relationships are made up of individuals, and everyone has their own process of growth and maturation. So, it is not unexpected that two people could “grow apart” as the years pass.
Love that can change as conditions change cannot, by definition, be unconditional. But our romantic relationships can bloom into steady partnerships filled with love long after the passion subsides if we infuse them with unconditional love, or what we could call Tao love or agape love.
Tao love comes from the recognition and real experience that all life is intertwined and connected. In fact, all life is the same essential existence in many temporary forms. It is always morphing and changing on the outside, but at its root, it remains the same.
As one of those forms of Tao, when we become strongly rooted in our center, we can experience the energy and consciousness of Tao. With this awareness, we feel love, gratitude, and forgiveness toward all without conditions. These are powerful tools through which we can forge strong and lasting relationships.
A Love Born of Tao
Maybe you’ve caught a glimpse of Tao love as you’ve gazed down from the top of a mountain, laughed with a baby, gone into deep meditation, been completely accepted by someone, or been swept away by a cheering crowd. You felt free and boundless. You loved everyone, and you felt the differences between you and everything else fall away.
But it’s not so simple to maintain this feeling every day. Our point of view on anything is naturally self-centered. Despite our capacity for empathy, we know and feel our own wants and needs more clearly and directly than anyone else’s. Does this mean that we cannot have good relationships? No, not at all. In fact, a relationship can become a very good impetus for self-directed growth, if we take the right attitude toward it.
Even when we cannot achieve true unconditional love right at this moment, we can always reach for it, and our relationships will be much better if we do. This requires being willing to step out of our ego’s small perspective and into the greater perspective of our true selves—our Tao selves. Our true selves are not attached to any particular outcome and do not expect anything in return for love that is given. Guided by this pure and foundational part of us, we can continue to love someone even when they give no love in return, and we won’t stop loving someone because their appearance, behavior, or goals no longer meet our expectations.
Stripping Away the Outer Shell
The unconditional love of our true selves lies in the deepest part of our hearts. Surrounding it, we find emotional attachments, expectations, desires, and trauma that restrict us from fully experiencing it. We need to peel these away if we want to bring unconditional love out into our lives.
Trust in the necessity of this process and in the beauty and power of Tao love helps us face the pain that often comes with the removal of each layer. Trust is an important tool in the journey to our center, our true selves.
Like building a muscle, the more moments we accumulate in a state of unconditional love, the more easily we can return to that state and the longer the periods become that we spend there. If we really want to develop it, we can bring it into every situation, not only our romantic relationships.
Our greatest tests come from loving those whom in the past we have deemed unworthy of love or whom have behaved badly toward us. This will take careful observation of the self to achieve, along with unwavering honesty about what lies in the darker parts of our character. But if we are brave enough to face ourselves, the rewards are limitless.
Ultimately, the only way to receive more love is to give more love. This is the Law of Love. If we grasp for love from others, we find ourselves plagued with jealousy, anxiety, and insecurity. If we give love freely without expecting anything in return, on the other hand, we feel nothing but sheer joy. And as we do this more and more, our capacity to love grows beyond measure.
I like to think of the human heart as a golden rose that is awaiting its moment to blossom. Every time we drop a resentment or make a gesture of love toward someone who we might have otherwise treated with contempt, it’s like a petal opening on that flower. In time, it will be a glowing flower in full bloom, sharing its beauty with all the world.
Having this love exude from our every pore until we are glowing like the sun is how we can be our most authentic selves, how everything within and around us is healed, and how we gain the peace and insight to develop harmonious, loving relationships in every part of our lives.
- Ilchi Lee’s Recipe for Unconditional Love
- [Video] How This Fundamental Energy Principle Helps You Love Yourself
- Love Yourself to Heal Yourself
- The Power of Love and Devotion
- How to Have a Close Relationship While Standing in Your Own Power