Valentine’s Day is the one holiday that is devoted to Love, plain and simple – to Cupid, and to romantic love expressed between human beings. Most of us have experienced this kind of love at least once in our lives, and hopefully much more than that. The most fortunate have actually found a partner who supports them throughout their life in the earthly realm. To be complete, such love is always reciprocal, and mutually beneficial.
Conditional vs. unconditional love
Love is truly that which “makes the world go round.” The world would be a pretty miserable place without it. And yet even such admirable cases of mutual love are not always as pure as they might be – they involve “conditions.” Examples include cases of jealousy, or a possessive “love” that more resembles a form of barter, in which one chooses to love only if certain conditions are met. In fact, the real world of couples’ relationships all too often involves adapting self-serving conditions between the two. Such relationships fail to offer the reward of significant mutual benefit.
A “purer” form of love, less involved with conditions and such apparent barter, might be seen between parents and children. It’s easy to love newborn babies in all their fresh innocence, but babies grow up into teenagers, and so on. Ideally, parents love their children “no matter what,” and offer compassion, kindness, and all manner of support even in the face of lesser human failings.
No soul is an island
I submit that the rarer, more extraordinary examples of mutually beneficial unconditional love are far more satisfying and fulfilling than the conditional love so often found in relationships. We cultivate far richer relationships as we become less egocentric and take a bigger view of who we are and why we are here. In addition, we come to see that no soul is an island – we grow tremendously and more fully satisfy our purpose as humans when we develop a loving relationship with another person that demands no conditions at all.
Allow love to spread
This Valentine’s Day, I suggest taking a bigger view of how our relationships in life help to serve a rich purpose in our soul growth, in getting right at the heart of why we even exist. Ideally, that bigger view includes no “conditions,” and thus also broadens the relationships that contribute to our learning and growth. Let that broader unconditional love first and foremost include yourself, because so many of the world’s problems result from the fact that we don’t even love ourselves enough – not in a selfish, childish fashion, but in a sense that acknowledges the divinely sourced beings we all are; not dependent upon the approval or affection of others, but centered in the unique value of your soul and its connections. Then allow that unconditional love to spread, to include truly loving all souls. Such unconditional love has infinite power to heal, whether the individual, or the whole world. And any relationship is an ideal place to start in assessing the power such love without conditions can truly have.
So, Happy Valentines Day! Use this special time to start delving into the benefits of unconditional love. “All the world loves a lover” has never been truer than in the case of one who loves without demanding some favor in return.
Have you always felt that there are deeper experiences out there – but never found a way to engage with them? Close the gap and discover your place in the universe. Eben Alexander and Karen Newell host Living In a Mindful Universe at the Art of Living Retreat Center from May 3rd-5th, 2019.
Eben Alexander, MD, spent over 25 years working within academic neuroscience at Harvard Medical School and elsewhere. He thought he knew how the brain, mind, and consciousness worked–but after a near-death experience during a week-long coma, he discovered that there was more to life than he’d thought. He went on to reconcile spiritual experience with contemporary physicals and cosmology, and now shares this theory and practice around the world and in the media, including on shows such as Oprah and Dr. Oz, and in his own best-selling books.
This article first appeared on EbenAlexander.com, and is reposted with permission from the author.
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