When someone else is lovingly aware of us (not of their judgement or desires regarding us, but simply of us as we are), we can experience the outer expression of their love. We can see the way they are looking at us, the smile on their face, and the responsiveness of their reactions to us. But the awareness of us is arising in them.
-Nirmala, “That Is That: Essays About True Nature”
In my previous post about love, I established that love, to me, means the wonderful opportunity to be the best of yourself next to someone who is equally inspired by your presence to be the best of themselves. Love brings a mutual burst of expressivity, creativity and affection.
Nirmala says love is awareness. It makes me think. Maybe love is often regarded as a transformative force because it brings awareness to ourselves–especially when we are aware of being loved. Of course, it could easily be vanity–that we are overly concerned about our image: how we look, how we behave, how we act in front of our beloved other. But I suppose if we’re worried about these things, we aren’t really in love with the person. It’s more like we’re in love with ourselves. And even if that the excess of self-address isn’t an indication of narcissism, we’ll be too busy being self-conscious anyway to really notice the other person.
So what does it mean that “love is awareness”? I love you, and you love me. I know you love me, and you know I love you as well. I suppose, knowing that I am being loved by you, I will want to know why you love me–and what it is you love about me. So I turn my attention inward. I want to know myself better. I look at myself, this person you’ve fallen in love with. I see myself, maybe not necessarily as you see me, but I am seeing, perceiving.
If I’m confident, I see myself as beautiful and worthy of your love. I see myself as full because of your love. Maybe I see myself in a brand new way; I am even more positive, more confident and assured than before, because I am now so much more conscious of what I own–now that you love me.
I want to be near you, because of the way you make me feel, the way you make me see myself in this new way.
Maybe I’m insecure, so I see myself as ugly, full of short-comings, and unworthy of your love. I see myself as empty, because I am not good enough, and I am undeserving, and you shouldn’t love me. Why do you love me? I am anxious, doubtful, and I want to hide myself, because I am so much more conscious of what I lack–now that you love me.
I want to escape you, because of the way you make me feel, because I want to escape myself, I cannot face myself.
Now I can truly understand why people say: you cannot love another when you do not love yourself. If you do not appreciate yourself, how do you appreciate the love from another–give to you? How do you give love when all you want to do is to hold back?
Love works both ways, eh? Love is transformative, or it can motivate us to transform ourselves, to become better–to worse.
If love is awareness, and feelings of love originate from a better sense of ourselves–then love is something we can give to ourselves. Love does not come from the object of our affection. What can love give us? Happiness, sense of fulfillment, optimism, and self-worth. Those things we can give to ourselves. That’s why we shouldn’t feel empty, or abandoned, or cursed, or insecure when “no one” loves us. It can be difficult, without a doubt. We are human, after all. How do we bear to live if truly, “no one” loves us? If nobody recognizes us as ourselves and appreciate us for it, what is our sense of worth? How can we be worthy if no one sees us?
We cannot dissociate the connections between “people” and “love”, although “love”, ultimately (and ideally), comes from the clarity of your own sense of self–which is something inherent and individually productive. Despite the isolation, the abandonment, the loneliness–we are perfectly capable (probably highly impossible) of being content just by ourselves. That is, in and of itself, a different state of being human. A state of enlightenment and true detachment, I would imagine.
I realized that I just wrote myself into a Buddhist ending. A huge part of Buddhist philosophy is non-attachment, and the middle way. Funny how truths can apply universally to almost anything, and that many things have the similar (if not that same) conclusions.