There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled. There is a void in your soul,
ready to be filled. You feel it, don’t you? You feel the separation from the Beloved.
Invite It to fill you up, embrace the fire. Remind those who tell you otherwise,
that Love comes to you of its own accord, and the yearning for it cannot be learned in any school. - Rumi
Who you are is love. Love is the essence of all life. It is both delicate and strong. From the pain of separation, it brings the joy of union, it heals a wounded soul, it dissolves all fear and awakens our sleeping heart.
Before time there was only the silence of infinite potential, floating in a sea of pure love. Pure love decided to play and from that joyous bliss filled impulse, the whole of creation emerged. You, me, every human, every animal, bird, fish, insect, flower and tree are manifestations of pure love. The wind, the rain and sun, the moon and stars are all reflections of that one pure love. There is nothing that exists whose essence isn’t pure love. From the moment of our birth, love is always speaking to us, guiding us but we have to listen carefully as attested by Ingrid Goff-Maidoff when she said “God spoke to me today in flowers and I, who was waiting for words, almost missed it.” Look for love everywhere and in everything. When we bring love into all aspects of our life, relationships, work, recreation, and spiritual practices, we cannot help but be self-loving.
The Dwelling Space of Unconditional Love
It is said that at the beginning of creation, God wondered where to put pure unconditional love. It was too precious to just leave anywhere and needed to be placed carefully. Some of the angels suggested hiding it in the deepest oceans, others said in the distant stars. But God said no, we’ll hide it in the heart of every human, only true seekers will look for it there. This story is echoed in the great Chandogya Upanishad when it talks about a secret dwelling in the lotus of the heart. Within this dwelling is a space, far greater than the infinite space of the universe, because this space contains the fulfillment of all our desires. It says that both heaven and earth are contained in that inner space, both fire and air, sun and moon, lightning and stars, in fact everything is contained in that inner space. This is called the city of Brahman, this is the True Self, free from old age, free from death and grief, hunger and thirst. This is where all desires are fulfilled. This is the home of pure unconditional love, alive in every one of us.
Many books have been authored on love, movies have been made and here I am writing an article about it, but the mystery and beauty of love can never be fully described, it has to be experienced by Being in Love. The Persian poet Hafiz touched on this when he wrote “Let us be like two falling stars in the day sky. Let no one know of our sublime beauty as we hold hands with God and burn into a scared existence that defies, that surpasses every description of ecstasy and love.”
Pure love is an ecstatic state far beyond the sentimental love usually found in those books and movies, a state of Being that reveals itself in answer to our longing. Our spiritual journey is to take us deep within, back beyond all distractions to rediscover our essence. The good news is that we are already pure love, the bad news is that we’ve forgotten it and have allowed our true self to be hidden beneath layers of fear, doubt, sadness and confusion. Our journey is to peel away these layers so we can recognize, and fall madly in love, with our Self once again.
Learn to Start with Self-Love
It’s important that we don’t confuse self-love with egotistical, vanity and selfishness. Self-love begins with an appreciation for one’s own happiness, self-worth, and wellbeing but grows into a love of all creation. So, where do we start? To love anyone or anything, we have to start by loving ourselves. It’s easy to love your body when it’s strong and healthy but what about when it’s tired or sick. This is when it needs love the most.
Do you often grumble when you look in the mirror? Embrace your weaknesses, accept what you don’t like about yourself, enjoy your ambiguity. Stop comparing yourself to others or getting overly concerned with their opinions. Allow yourself to make mistakes once in a while but trust yourself to make good decisions. Self-improvement is an ongoing process but first starts by practicing self-acceptance. Face your fears, true love lacks nothing and is always here to support you. Drop the conditioning, let go of the stories of how things are supposed to be. They don’t have to be anything and, realizing this, welcomes the joy that awaits you. As the Sufi poet Rumi said, “Your task is not to seek for love but merely to find and remove all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
As you begin to dissolve those barriers, ask your heart for whatever gifts you want from love in your life. If you have challenges, ask love for help and be open to receive its bounty. Remember, true love can never hurt you, it’s only the unloving things that hurt.
Expand Self-Love Outward
Then expand self-love to love of all. Pause for a moment and be aware of your heart center. Ask it how can you be more loving, what limitations do I need to release? Love holds no grievances, ask your heart to help you to forgive. The true self can never be hurt, only the self-image holds the grudges. Forgiveness allows you to truly love yourself. Drop all the stories you and others may have created about you and be yourSelf. Ask:
- How can I better serve those around me?
- What unique talents do I have to offer the world?
- How can I share kindness and compassion unconditionally?
Activate the qualities of your heart. Silently repeat each of the following words a few times, your eyes can be open or closed, as is comfortable.
Allow these qualities to expand throughout your body. Let them fill your thoughts and emotions. Surround yourself with a halo of love and radiate it out to the world. Filling yourself with these qualities both acts like a protective shield while at the same time blessing all those around you. You can repeat these qualities and any others you may wish to add, any time during the day when you feel the need for the support of love.
True love, like silence cannot be created but, when we allow ourselves to slip beyond all the noise, confusion and all that we are not, we will discover the silent magnificence of pure love waiting to embrace us. When we surrender everything to love and for love, we will rest deep in the arms of love. Nourished, nurtured, safe and secure, finally home.
Let’s finish with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who expressed it perfectly with, “Love shall forever shine on our way and the light will guide our steps, whether we go slow or fast. The light of love shall forever be with us on our way. Love shall forever be the anchor of life. We shall be in love and love shall be in us. We shall live in love, shall grow in love and shall find fulfillment in love eternal.”
Explore self-love and learn to honor all aspects of yourself to discover the infinite source of love within, in Journey to Well-being: Self-Love, a four-part series with Dr. Sheila Patel, available now in the Chopra App.