“For one human being to love another: that is perhaps
the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test
and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.”~Rainer Maria Rilke
The movement towards emotional intimacy is the process of getting close enough to someone to truly know them--and through them to really know yourself. Because when you invite honesty, when you are open to it, then the person in front of you will respond by showing you exactly how they see you, by showing you what you really are. If you cause them any discomfort, they’ll tell you so. Being able to open yourself to this requires an enormous amount of faith--in them, surely…but even more importantly, faith in yourself. You must trust yourself not to turn away if you don’t like the you that’s being reflected. To make this commitment, you must see that your capacity for love is greater than your fear and greater than your desire to feel secure. It will require great courage.
My advice to you is to fan the flames of your love, make it burn as bright as it can. Shine your love on anyone you can--your spouse, your children, your parents, your friends, casual acquaintances, even complete strangers. Steel your resolve--can you love them enough to give up your personal desires, to reign yourself in? If it comes down to a choice of their happiness or yours, will you sacrifice? Will you mercifully, tenderly, lovingly surrender what you want to bring them joy? Can you love them more than you love your own self-image?
Day by day, as your heart softens, you see more clearly how much you have to give. You see that love isn’t in what they do for you, or what they say, or how much they give you. It’s not about getting something back. Love is in what you can be for them. Yet, there is a responsive flow back to you. When you get it right, you can tell just by the smile, the twinkling of the eyes, the ineffable warmth, once you get tuned in to these subtleties.
Gradually, you push your heart to expand. To fully express your love, you must see others as they truly are, and put away your expectations and projections, so that you can be what they really need. You find that to fully show your love, you need grow your awareness to include all the others in their lives, and help them improve those relationships as well. To fully express your love, you find that you must acknowledge reality as it is and not live in the narrow view of self, because you can only respond well to the situations that you see accurately. You willingly turn away from jealousy, envy and greed because you find they just bring pain to yourself and to those you love.
Your generosity and capacity for love increases. You dig deep into your soul, you call up your compassion again and again. You pray “Love, help me see what needs to be done, help me know what to say, help me to respond in ways that bring comfort and joy to those I care about.” You keep on trying, even when you think you’ve really messed things up. You’ve let someone down, you beat yourself up, you pick up the pieces, and you give it another go. And you keep right on trying, even when you have to swallow your pride. You affirm that you won’t give up on them, even when the going gets tough. When it hurts, you chalk it up to learning.
You feel woefully inadequate to this task, but you know, deep down, that it’s the only path that’s really worthwhile. You let your heart lead the way. Suddenly, you begin to overlook all the little shortcomings, the petty disagreements, the disappointments, and the moments of frustration because they just don’t add any joy to your life, so there’s no need waste one unnecessary second dwelling on them. Now, the big obstacles fall off into irrelevance.
You’re throwing your whole self into it now, and your heart is on fire. Your patience and your willingness to persevere become infinite, and you vow to never give up on anyone you love. You will always be there for them, no matter what. One day soon, you will drop through the hole in the bottom of your heart and into the ocean of love that fills the world. If you can love even one person truly and fully, you will find that you must love everyone else and love everything that is, just as it is, because only then can your love be complete. You stop seeking anything for yourself because you discover that it’s all been yours anyway, right from the beginning.
Only you can walk this path, only you can realize that in the end, all your desires have been nothing but the desire to be loved, and being loved is nothing other than becoming love. At the bottom of it all, we are all one, and that one is love.