“So, it really manifests this way: at first sight, we find love; at our first true seeing, the love that is already there touches us.” ~ Mark Nepo
The more devoted we become to practicing love, the more vigilant we must be in monitoring the ways in which the small self tries to limit us. The ego loves to filter our experiences and interactions based on its selfish needs and desires. And because we all want personal love that will fill us where we still feel empty inside, we often assess how people look at us, whether they are sending signals of connection or disregard. We subconsciously seek love from friends, lovers, teachers, and strangers, reconfiguring and redefining it as we go along.
To find what we are longing for, it is time to develop a totally new way of engaging with the world. We must commit to seeing every person through eyes of love, whether we know them or not, whether we like them or not, whether they are being kind to us or not, every day with no exceptions. This requires a dedication to love, no matter what.
Although this may feel hard to fathom, take a deep breath and relax. It does not have to happen overnight.
A New Worldview
The key to successfully seeing through eyes of love lies in separating the emotional waves of personal love we feel, from the consistent energy of pure love that we are. On a human level, when we ‘have eyes for someone’ we fall ‘in love.’ We respond to something they are reflecting to us, something we need, such as validation, support, empathy, fun, or companionship. When they give us some pleasure, we experience the feeling of love for them, but what we are really doing is nurturing our own ego, which has been pleased by them. As soon as they are not available, physically or emotionally, to feed our need, we feel less loved, or less loveable. If they stop giving us pleasure altogether, our love for them usually wanes. Basically, if we are thinking, ‘I need you,’ that is based on selfishness, not pure love.
This is why sexual attraction does not equal love. The sexual impulse drives desire and clouds our ability to see clearly. Desire propels us into relationship and often when we are no longer being satisfied in the same way, it pulls us out again. The ego mind will forever believe that fulfillment lies ‘out there’ and relentlessly pursue hit after hit of pleasure. But the soul knows that pure love does not come through satiating the senses. If it did, promiscuity would have gotten us all to enlightenment by now.
The effortless emotional high of sexual attraction is simply the dance of the ego trying to experience love by posturing for what it can get, rather than what it can give; and its effect is as impermanent as any drug. Inevitably, the trick of brain biochemistry that creates the euphoric feelings of new love goes away, on average within two years. We are left feeling unloved, because we have mistakenly believed that the other person is the ultimate source of love.
Long-term happiness requires that we shift from satisfaction seeking, to sharing true intimacy and spiritual development. The word intimacy, when sounded out, can be thought of as ‘into-me-see,’ a lovely reminder about what we are doing when we get close to someone. We are attempting to see beyond their ego’s mask and inviting them to do the same, into our shared nature as love. Intimacy is not just physical togetherness. It is the deep at-one-ness that blooms in our consciousness when we experience our own or another person’s essence. We can walk by the same person a hundred times and not really see them, or we can walk by once, and completely take them in, if our eyes are focusing through the lens of love.
As we learn to see others through eyes of love, we spiritualize human relationship, and sexual connection. The sweetness of this is far stronger than any fleeting passion. Passion can be enhanced by love, but it should not be mistaken for love. Without spiritual love in intimate, physical relationship, consciousness remains at its lowest level and eventually attraction, respect, and understanding can erode. Even long-term marriages become stale and lose their perceived value when too much focus is on the physical rather than on seeing one another as reflections of pure love.
Making the shift to see through eyes of love takes a courageous act of willpower to elevate our thoughts and regulate the senses, which continuously shout enticements to indulge them at any cost.
Each relationship we are blessed with gives us an opportunity to practice loving in different and ever-expanding ways, the challenge being to return to the essence of love itself, and stop concentrating on whether the spark is on or off. This is the sadhana, or spiritual practice of loving. It is not an intellectual exercise, but a meditation on our shared oneness, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
When the ecstatic and effortless state of falling in love has ended, we dive deeper into the intimacy of seeing one another as love. We focus on what we can offer to others, in service to their souls. We think, ‘How can I contribute to this other person’s happiness and spiritual growth? How can I love her beyond what feeds my needs and desires?’ We give love as a gift from our hearts, without expecting anything in return, desiring only our beloved’s true happiness. This creates a calm, inward satisfaction, purposefully connected to something greater than self.
When we stop following our fluctuating feelings and personal desires, we grow beyond the emotional, chemical reaction firing in our brains that we have thought of as love in the past. We recognize love as the peace within our own being, and we see that which we seek, is who we are. Aligned with this all encompassing, ever available, limitless love, we cannot help but love what is around us, and this affects immediate transformation.
Excerpt from Breathing Love: Meditation in Action by Jennie Lee © 2018. Used by permission from Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.