Where Oh Where Is Love?

The 1968 musical, Oliver!, made a long-lasting impression on me from the first time I viewed it on the big screen. One song in particular touched me deeply. “Where is Love?” portrayed a commonly-held belief of the time: that one must seek and earn love, that although esoteric in nature, it is an object that can be obtained, held, and controlled:

“Where is love?
Does it fall from skies above?
Is it underneath the willow tree
That I’ve been dreaming of?”

The poet, Jalal ad-Din Mohammed Balkhi (Rumi), puts another spin on the search when he realized centuries ago that,

“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere, they’re in each other all along.” (Coleman Barks, Essential Rumi)

Carol suggests a fruitlessness in the search when she wrote about the First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble awareness condition:

“When you look for love you will never find it. When you love without looking, you will never lose it.” (Perspectrum, manuscript)

Perhaps it’s not about seeking. Maybe it’s not about finding. Could I be seeking what cannot be found? Am I in search of a ghost, a figment of my imagination?

What Is Love?

Ask and you’ll probably get as many different definitions as there are people to provide them. I got my definitions – yes, I have more than one – mostly from others, like my parents, my friends, my intimate relationships. For the most part, my definitions are based on my experience of relationships. I have no one-size-fits-all definition – though I use the same word to describe a large variety of experiences, needs, and desires.

I recognize my need for affection, kindness, respect, and appreciation. So, I seek them from others – not recognizing them within me already. Maybe the fact that it is already within me, seeking will not result in finding UNLESS I search within. Of course, that’s likely to result in not finding, too, because I cannot find me by looking for me outside me. Perhaps that is the blindness Rumi speaks of when he wrote:

“The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was.” (Rumi)

Could Marc Almond be correct when he penned the words to his hit song, Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places?

It’s lovely there where love becomes
A drug to fill your need
Just believe in you!
And learn to love yourself

Has it been there in me all along? Did I not find it because I was looking in all the wrong places? Hmm. I wonder.

A Catalyst Reveals Hidden Treasures

A catalyst is a triggering agent that provokes action and choice. In a reactive universe, every action provokes another action and another choice. Relationships provoke change that is essential to experience. A Third Degree of Illumination question appears as a catalyst that provokes a choice and yet does not affect the question that prompted it.

The Catalyst Opportunity

Relationships carry intentions and resistance to change. The choices we make are the beginning of change. Choosing the same thing is not choice, rather, it is resistance to change, a validation of a previous choice. My relationships offer many opportunities for me to confront my resistance. Those opportunities often appear as conflicting thoughts that elicit questions that act as catalysts for change.

I can challenge resistance thoughts with alternative thoughts. In my inner-most personal relationships, those alternative thoughts are ever-present, an invitation to reconsider and choose again. A catalyst may require only a minute degree of leverage in the form of a question like, “Is that true?” to move the mind past the tipping point.

This type of catalyst is a question that reveals hidden intentions behind resistance. Light shone in the darkness acts as a catalyst that reveals what was in the dark. By questioning my resistance, I shine the light of conscious awareness on it, illuminating that which I’ve concealed from myself. I can shift my awareness from competition and defense to choice and accountability.

Revealing Hidden Treasures

I question my established beliefs by challenging present defenses. The more entrenched my beliefs, the greater the need for defense. The more I invest in defense the less creative energy I have available to me. I can use questions to reassign that investment. At some point, my investment in awakening will pass the tipping point to AHA! That’s when I’ll be faced with the ultimate choice – move ahead to complete personal accounting or fall back into defense. It’s a tipping point, after all.

Mindfulness means questioning my thoughts. Continuing to believe what I used to think vital simply allows my accountability to step aside while a misunderstanding takes charge. I can question that misstep and offer myself the choice again.

Any question can be used as a catalyst, yet certain kinds of questions lead to certain kinds of conscious awareness. Here are some questions I’ve used to provoke a 3rd Degree awareness – choice, in which 4th Degree acceptance of accountability is an option.

From Conflict to Awareness – Choose!

Get quiet. Pick a recent conflict in which you continue to defend a side. Ask:

  1. What awareness am I resisting? (maybe the other side of the issue?)
  2. How am I resisting it? (my defense)
  3. Why am I resisting it? (my payoff for defense)
  4. Who am I resisting? (the one capable of resolving the issue)

Continue asking these questions until the answer to every question is a variation of “I am!” – the ONE dreaming this dream. BTW, I am the treasure I seek.

Connect with Your Values to Stop Fear Thought Spirals

Want to feel less defensive? Want to feel more loving and kind? Want to meaningfully connect with others? Want to foster relationships that satisfy your values?

Then you would benefit from a short exercise you can do any time. A study published in the July 2008 issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, found that writing about important values made people feel less threatened and more connected – and that these other-directed feelings resulted in reduced defensiveness. Read more Connect with Your Values to Stop Fear Thought Spirals

Controlling Love

About controlling love –

We may seriously believe we can control love by selecting to judge what love should look like. Love cannot be controlled because it does not control. Those who think they can make love validate their perspective play a fool’s game by denying their own heart song. In order to fully open to love, one must swallow a million tears, work their body to exhaustion serving others, smile through a broken heart while healing another, give to the point of self extinction… then you may begin to know love.

Truth? It was never about you or me. Yet it was always FOR you and me.

Controlling love? I don’t think so!