Food for Thought ~  ….The blessing of falling in love comes from spirit, but it can be blocked by ego. Ego is responsible for protecting your self-image; it creates the compartments where everything undesirable about you has been hidden. What blocks love is not the presence of these shadow energies but the division of the psyche, that came about when your ego started building inner walls. Love is a flow, and walls keep the flow out….

In spiritual terms, this is the problem of duality. By dividing good from bad, right from wrong, we essentially insist that parts of ourselves are unlovable — why else would we keep them out of sight?

We turn ourselves into packages, exactly the kind Delaney (a character in the book) talks about. The package seems to contain only good and worthy things, but if another person ventures to love us, the whole package spills open, and a lot of what it contains isn’t so nice.

The cruelest consequence of duality is that we believe in the rightness of shutting love out. "Being open" is equated with "being weak." "Being closed" is equated with "being strong." And society reinforces these dualities by reminding us, day in and day out, that this is not a world where love is safe.

As with most people, I don’t encounter much love except inside my home. On waking I see my wife’s face beside me, and many mornings I marvel at the ineffable love this sight inspires, something far more delicate and moving than I can put into words. Yet beside my bed also lie the newspaper I read to get to sleep, and in it is all the hatred anyone could imagine. On every page I confront the catastrophic failure of love.

There is the personal failure in the overwhelming amount of divorce, litigation, and social bitterness we’ve learned to live with.

There is public failure in the war, street crime, and oppression we all go to bed praying will not strike us.

Although no one can say where love went, it is a dangerous sign that we are surrounded by so many images pretending to be love.

Every day we are saturated, drowned with images of romance from books and films, bombarded with sex from advertisements, and goaded on all sides to become more attractive in order to win attention from a "perfect" lover. Delaney was struggling in the swamp of non-love, as we all are, trying to find something he really couldn’t name.

"What if you sat down and imagined the perfect woman waiting out there for you," I told him. "You’ve probably done it many times, only to give up. Well, I think you’re going to find that woman,  and it will happen the instant you let go of her image. It sounds like a paradox, but letting go has to be the first step in finding someone to love you, because love is never an image. Love doesn’t depend upon external values at all."

"I know that," he said, with sudden and surprising gentleness. "I felt I had no choice but to have some kind of image in mind. Other, it was like looking in the dark."

"Most people have that worry," I said.  "It reflects their own secret belief that they are not all that desirable themselves, and also their fear of loneliness. At least they have an image to keep them company. There’s a deeper issue here, though. Does love ever come from outside ourselves?"

"Of course it does," he said.

"Go into it more deeply," I urged. "All of us believe in duality, which creates the perception that people are separate. You and I seem separate, sitting here in this room. We have separate bodies, separate minds, separate memories and backgrounds. Separation is the foundation of our whole existence. But part of you hates living in separation — it hates the fear, loneliness, suspicion, and alienation that come with being totally isolated. This part of you calls upon love to solve its pain. If only you can find someone to love you, perhaps the separation will be healed."

"You don’t make my life sound very pretty," Delaney mourned. "No," I said. "But in their heart of hearts most people feel the pangs of separation; it’s not a secret. Let me ask you. Do you really believe there is a perfect somebody out there waiting for you? As common as the myth is, the reality is different. The somebody waiting for you is always a reflection of yourself. Out of our loneliness, all of us seek a source of love that will fill up the lack we feel inside, and that’s exactly what happens, no more and no less."

"I don’t know how to respond to that," Delaney said.

"If you observe yourself closely enough," I said, "you’ll see the patterns. Most men, for example, feel a lack of tenderness, which they hope to find in a woman. Most women feel a lack of strength, which they hope to find in a man. Whatever the need is, the person who fills it becomes the source of love."

"The question is, how do we keep this going? Can the person who happens to match our needs continue to make us feel loved? I don’t think so. We all have too much hidden inside; there is too much healing to do. So in time the outside source of love fades; it stops being effective. And then certain truths dawn;

"You can never receive more love than you are prepared to receive."

"You cannot give more love than you have to give."

"The love reflected from another person has its source in your heart…"

The reason love from outside sources stops working is that you haven’t solved separation, only papered over it.

"So then what?" he asked.

"You stand at a crossroads. You can go out again and search for love from some new source, you can make do with what you have, you can turn to satisfactions other than love, or you can be totally honest and give up the search for externals altogether."

Here we had reached a critical point. The path to love begins when you realize that separation, loneliness, and the pain of isolation are real. Not many people want to face this fact, and therefore they resign themselves to a sadly constricted amount of love. As a healer, love knows no limits, but you must be willing to bring your whole being to it. Only then does the balm of love flow.

"There is something I really admire in you," I told Delaney. "I think you will be surprised what it is. You haven’t settled for imitations. In some part of yourself, you are waiting for the real thing." Delaney met my eyes; he nodded ever so slightly. "It’s such a hard thing to talk about," I said, "this nameless longing that only love can fill. What are we waiting for? What is the real thing, if not the flood of images about romance, sex, and endless pleasure that the ideal love is supposed to give us with? In reality we are the gift and we are the giver.

"Duality is and always has been an illusion. There is no one out there waiting for you. There is only you and the love you bring to yourself. In spirit you are united with all other souls, and the only purpose of separation is for you to rejoin that unity."

"Which makes love the only blessing," Delaney said quietly. We sat for a moment, letting his words sink in, for it was as if he spoke from my heart too. "Yes," I said. "Love is the only blessing, and that means all love. If love is the ultimate reality, as the great teachers tell us, then the slightest gesture of connection is a gesture of love. To reach across the wall of separation, whether to friend, lover, family, or stranger, is to act in the name of love, whether we consciously realize it or not."

We had reached a special moment, which we both wanted to appreciate in silence. We had talked in Delaney’s office in Boston, an ordinary room, but for a moment not ordinar
y. The path to love always opens unexpectedly. Our world contains such chaos and confusion that it is a miracle there is a path at all. Yet as long as there is separation, there will be a bridge. "I think you’ve gotten one of my secrets," Delaney said after a pause. I had lost faith that anybody out there really would love me as much as I wanted her too."

"Love doesn’t take faith," I said. "Because separation is an illusion, believing in it is what takes faith.  Love is real. It can be held, nurtured, felt, learned from, and depended upon.  So abandon your faith (here). Stop wishing and hoping, and turn your efforts to what is real. Duality is so flimsy that it is ready to fall apart at any moment. In our imaginations we believe that love is apart from us. Actually there is nothing but love, once we are ready to accept it."

God is love.

A partial excerpt from "The Path to Love," by author Deepak Chopra.

Onward, with HOPE

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