The power of love is astonishingly interpreted on mass in our modern society as a polarity of many things. We can feel hypnotised by it, feel controlled by it like a toxic chemical infiltrating every part of our body. Many are terrified to let go and fall deep into the pool of love, driven by the fears of conditioning and imprints left behind by others. Yet, some of us are swept away by a kind of divine love, finding our way to heights of enlightenment.
Why are there so many polarities in the definition of love and how it plays out in our lives? This question is something that has intrigued me on many levels most of my life.
What if I told you that ‘love’ is the foundation and ‘like’ is the building where you find refuge! What would you think? What would you feel? Would you believe me?
So what is refuge in the first place? For everyone, the refuge you seek is unique to you, and therefore different, just the same as
the home and life you build around you. Your refuge provides shelter so that you feel safe, at peace and free from harm and danger. When you build your sense of refuge on a solid foundation of love, the well of joy can overflow.
In our society, unfortunately, love too frequently is sought externally from others rather than as a foundation within you. When we discover the well of love from within, we, in turn, uncover the most beautiful love of all, that is love without conditions.
Have you ever loved someone who did not return your love? It can feel like an extraordinarily painful kind of suffering, that can be almost too much to bear. In the moment, you are left asking the question, why me? What did I do to deserve not to be loved by this person I love. They may have loved you once, yet now the love has gone, leaving you facing divorce and a life without the love you once knew. This is a familiar story for many of us in life.
By the time we become an adult, we have all experienced the discomfort, expansion and loss of love that was not returned. Whether it be unrequited love from a friend, family member or partner, love subconsciously comes with conditions. The greatest of all love lost though, is the love we steal from ourselves.
Love is the foundation! It is not the structure. I know this is potentially a difficult concept to consider when we hold external love as the be-all and end-all, isn’t it? A solid foundation created by love is just the beginning because remember the building is where you find refuge.
Whether you are a regular everyday person like me or a monk, love is still the foundation, and we all find our refuge in the structure we build around that love.
Love will not keep you warm independently, because it is like the raw ingredient of a blanket. Without weaving it into yarn that makes the blanket, you will not be warm. Just like the wood that builds a fire won’t keep you warm. It is simply wood without the conditions to create an ignition point and ultimately fire.
Now consider the concept that that love is directly experienced as a feeling, occurring in an instant. Yet, it takes the mind much longer to understand the love we feel. This is because the mind wants to rationalise everything, including our feelings. Love is felt in the heart, not the head because it is a feeling. We know through science that the heart begins to beat spontaneously before the brain has developed in the womb. Therefore it is relatively easy to understand that we could feel love long before we are able to recognise it in the brain.
Could this be because we need the structure that is created in the mind, to understand and interpret what we feel in the heart? Is this a learned behaviour? Therefore do we only recognise and understand love once we build the foundation around it within our rational thoughts? This could potentially also makes sense, considering far more energy is measured moving from the heart to the brain than the brain back to the heart.
Through mindfulness, I have considered the issue of love in relationships many times. I have done this both personally and through helping others to understand their own relationships, love and attachment.
So today I propose this question to you. Could ‘love’ be the foundation that you need to build the structure of ‘like’ on top, to find true refuge in your life?
To understand this, consider if you like everyone you love or equally love everyone that you like. Do you have a base and no structure or a structure with shaky foundations? I bet if you looked closely in your life, you have experienced both. If you are happily in a relationship, do you both love and like your partner. What about a good relationship with your family members? We can also apply these same principles to these situations. The best yet, can you love yourself but not like yourself or vice versa?
When we realise we have fallen in love with someone, it is not because love has slowly developed, because the foundation of love was always there in our hearts. The beautiful rationalisation of love is then built successfully through all the things you learn to like about this person. Then and only then do you find refuge on the foundation of love, within the structure of the things you have learned to like about your object of your attention, the one you love.
Do you want to navigate the interrelationship between love and like, to find refuge and complete joy in your relationships and life in general? Firstly, you need to understand that love is the foundation, and the beautiful things you learn to like are what form the structures where you build your refuge.
It may have taken me more than 40 years to understand this mindfully. However, you can potentially gain understanding through my experience, then apply that knowledge to your life.
May you find love and build the foundation to expand that love infinitely, through the power of what you like in every day of your life.