“It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all”
– Joni Mitchell
This week, the subject of love, unconditional love, kept popping up everywhere I looked. I decided this was more than a coincidence, so I started thinking about it and reading about it.
And the more I thought and read about it, the more I thought Joni Mitchell might be right. I may not really know love at all, because I get all kinds of conflicting information.
On the one hand, love is all there is, to quote the great Sally Anderson, among others.
Then, there’s the flip side. There’s hate, the opposite of love. But no, that’s not right. FEAR is the opposite of love because hate is just one way of expressing fear, right?
But what is fear? Usually, self-protection and/or a defense of someone or something we . . . love.
Hmm . . . Maybe love IS all there is.
But what if I don’t feel love? What if I have a legitimate reason to hate someone – let’s take Vladimir Putin. He’s the person a lot of people hate right now – and with good reason. He’s doing awful things. Other people are doing awful things at his command. We should hate him, shouldn’t we? Like we hate/hated Hitler?
But someone reminded me recently that we are supposed to love everyone, including Putin. She is sending love to him, loving him.
Why? Because he’s a human being, a living creature, part of the world that we . . . love.
I had to dig deep for that one.
But she’s right.
That’s what unconditional love is all about, isn’t it? Loving your enemies?
Did you know that the concept of “loving your enemy” is widely taught in all religions? I could list verses from a lot of different scriptures, but I won’t bore you with that. I’m sure you trust me. 😊
However, here’s one of my favorites:
Of the adage, Only a good man knows how to like people, knows how to dislike people, Confucius says, ‘He whose heart is in the smallest degree set upon Goodness will dislike no one.’ Confucianism, Analects 4.3-4
The smallest degree…
Here’s the reality. We can love Vladimir Putin without approving of his behavior, condoning his philosophies, or becoming his BFF.
Because there’s such a thing as boundaries. But that’s a topic for another day.
The bottom line is that love IS the bottom line. Unconditional love isn’t for someone else, it’s for me. The benefit of thinking loving thoughts, aligning with love – even if I don’t feel it – is that it makes me happier, more successful, more at peace, and yes, more loving.
I can love people or things and still decide to let them go from my life because they are not serving me. That doesn’t mean I stop loving. It just means that I love from afar. That way my heart stays full of love, which not only benefits me, but everyone around me.
When I love everything, including myself, there’s no room for anger, hatred, or . . . fear.
Unconditional love isn’t something you embrace to make someone else feel better. It’s what you do to make yourself feel better.
Because it changes how you relate to yourself, to others, and to the world.
After all, love IS all there is.