For years I’ve heard claims of the benefits of unconditional love. It is a new-age mantra that gets thrown about like a hackysack or bandied about like a balloon.
“We love you unconditionally.”
In principle, it sounds wonderful, sweet, and oh, so “higher frequency.” Yet, what does it mean in real practice?
Two fairly obvious complications pop out at me:
- What does “unconditional” mean?
- What does “love” mean?
How unconditional can I be in a world based in duality? By duality, I mean, is and is not. There is blue and that which is not blue, for example. Duality – something compared to something ELSE.
I even experience myself in terms of that which is NOT me – to learn more, listen to this 27-minute audio imagery (WARNING: This MP3 audio track is a hypnotic imagery and as such is not intended for use while driving or while operating or using dangerous equipment or tools. Please use caution as this audio track is intended to induce altered states of consciousness.).
Conditionality – It’s what’s on the table
We cannot love without thinking conditionally. We cannot espouse a point of view without thinking conditionally. We cannot debate or crusade for a cause or idea without thinking conditionally. We are conditional beings. To declare otherwise is to simply tell a lie.
Yes, even the act of being is conditional. By being one way, you are simultaneously not being some other way. Further, you are being more one way and less another at any given instant in time.
Even time itself is conditional.
We like to think our “significant other” loves us no matter what, but as the large percentage of divorces testifies, it doesn’t quite work that way. Why? Because it is impossible to be, act, or love unconditionally. The very notion is a setup for failure (as in “not achieving a desired result”).
The Unconditional Love Standard
During the new age movement of the 1980s and 1990s, the term, “unconditional love” emerged as the standard bearer of the moment and was supposed to mean that you would mentally shower people with some kind of “love and light” or “spiritual blessings” no matter what their belief or behavior. The concept has appeal – and has its usefulness – particularly under certain conditions.
Some Misconceptions about Unconditional Love
To some, “unconditional love” means, “I will hold the energy of light and love for you in the firm hope and expectation that someday you’ll understand, accept, awaken… etc.” In other words, “I know more, am more enlightened, am better than you… – I’m IN and you’re NOT…” It’s a condition known as condescending.
To some, “unconditional love” means “long suffering” – meaning taking what’s dished out by indifferent, insensitive, rude, or otherwise unsympathetic, self-centered, cruel, or ignorant, yet significant people in their lives. In the end, suffering is still suffering – be it short or long. It’s a condition known as cowardice.
Another new age saying is a variation on unconditional love: “It’s all good.” How can I say this delicately? That’s just plain bullshit! What they really mean to say is, “I’m too weak-willed or afraid or polite to express my REAL opinion… so I’ll LIE instead. (Just don’t hurt me!)” It’s a condition known as appeasement, which I’ve heard is like feeding an alligator hoping he’ll eat you last.
Reality Check Please!
To treat others with respect, dignity, honor, appreciation, and kindness requires conditional thinking. Judgment is elemental to treating people with respect (a judgment). We can’t do unconditional because ALL thoughts are conditional – that is, we judge every thing, idea, concept, perception, etc. against some other thing, idea, concept, perception, etc. – every action against other possible actions – every choice against other possible choices.
Life is conditional – with limits!
How about we Celebrate Conditionality?
Let me set the record straight, then — conditionality is normal and natural. It is who we are. It is what we do. It is what we have. It is what is – compared to what is not.
It’s okay to embrace and celebrate conditionality. Perhaps we might look at the “love” relationships in our lives and honestly evaluate, define, and appreciate them for what they are – conditional! Appreciating and honoring the conditions within relationships builds trust, fosters growth, and deepens feelings and expressions of gratitude. Fantastic!
Because my love for the one closest to me is so “special” and unique (conditional), we enjoy it together in its myriad forms, defining and redefining our relationship as our context changes through age, location, family situations, financial conditions, etc. LIVING! Knowing the limits helps us stay and play within them by agreement.
Try turning judgment into a vehicle for gratitude. Notice the people, situations, and environments around you and judge them worthy of your gratitude. Maybe express it out loud now and then.
Exercise honesty to overcome appeasement;exercise courage to overcome cowardice; exercise humility to overcome condescension. It’s absolutely okay to judge yourself worthy to get help with these – after all, these conditions don’t just belong to OTHER people… 😉