What is love?
What does it mean to be unconditional?
Does “unconditional” love make sense?
As compared to what?
by Kelvin H. Chin
Life After Life Expert, Overcoming the Fear of Death Foundation
Let's think about this phrase that we often hear — "Unconditional Love." What does unconditional love mean...as compared to what?
Can love be 'conditional'?
I think that's the point. People often like to make love 'conditional,' and often they try to. But it always fails, doesn't it?
Conditional love looks something like this: "I will love you as long as you do this, or don't do this… as long as you are this way, or that way..."
Essentially what we are really saying is:
“I will love you as long as you match my ideal image of…a lover, husband, wife, child, friend, etc.”
And then, maybe the other person forces himself to change, and perhaps he (or she) does change to fit your image — temporarily. Then he goes back to who he really is…because that is inevitable.
Also inevitable is that he will feel resentment from forcing himself to change, even if it's supposedly "for a good reason." And if that resentment is allowed to continue and fester, it then turns into frustration and anger.
I think we all have experienced this to some degree at some point in our lives. But, if that anger is allowed to build up over time, to the point where the resentment becomes almost palpable, then the relationship is doomed — divorce or separation is inevitable.
Thus is the fate of conditional love.
Here's the thing...
We cannot deny who we really are — how we are wired through years, lifetimes perhaps, of experience and ‘practice.’ If any change is to occur, it must come from inside ourselves, it must be a decision we make unencumbered by the feeling that we are 'doing it for the other person.' We must 'do it for ourselves.'
And, while having a vision — a mental idea — an ideal image — of what you may be striving for may be helpful, it can also be risky if you don’t realize that you may be holding out for 'perfection' in your life where it does not exist. Or worse — where you may be demanding perfection in order to be happy.
Because just like love, our happiness should not be dependent on perfection. Let's talk about this idea of Perfection further...
Perfection in Love
Perfection is a lofty goal, but it is not reality. In other blog essays, I discuss the idea of perfection and how it results in the reality of a ‘static state’ — a state of no change, which we all know does not exist. We experience change in life all the time, not a static ‘unchanging’ life.
So I think, either out of confusion, or maybe an unsuccessful attempt at salvaging love in their lives, people have created this term "unconditional" love.
But does the phrase even make sense?...
It's like saying “very unique” or the “most biggest”…
Unique and biggest are already “the most.”
Love is already unconditional.
Love is love. End of story.
It's either a 'love story' or not. It's not an "unconditional love" love story.
But the bottom line is I don't think “it’s" that complicated.
"Love," that is.
Self-Acceptance and Love
Love is not that complicated, at least not in theory. Most discussions about love do not start at the beginning, at the source...they tend to start somewhere down the road, well into the process of loving or appreciating others. But I think if we are to be at all successful in giving and receiving love, we must start at the source...ourselves. And we must start within ourselves in a different way from what is typically discussed in most circles.
I think it starts with Self-Acceptance.
That may sound easy, but granted — in practice maybe it's not so easy for most of us ‘mere humans’! But that's the formula — at least the formula is simple:
Start with oneself, "Turn within" – get to ‘know oneself’ better, develop more self-confidence, accept our flaws and our strengths unconditionally. This is "self-love." It's when we really know ourselves, our personalities, and when we embrace our 'warts' and weaknesses — all the stuff we may not like about ourselves. And where does the ability and inner strength come from to be able to not engage in overly self-critical thinking, to love oneself unconditionally? It comes from starting on 'our inside' first — by turning within, and relaxing our mind, body, emotions, and expanding our self-knowledge.
And by taking this more understanding, acceptant, and more clear approach toward ourselves and how we view love from within ourselves, we will be more prepared to be loving human beings towards other people, towards all of the world outside of ourselves. We will be more prepared to love the community — the world community that we are a part of.
Kelvin H. Chin is a Meditation Teacher, Life After Life Expert, and Author of “Overcoming the Fear of Death.” He learned to meditate at age 19, and has been teaching Turning Within and coaching others in their self-growth for 45 years. He helps people understand their life challenges through their individual belief systems, and helps them find their own solutions. His past life memories reach back many centuries, and he accesses those memories in his teaching and his coaching in the same way all coaches draw on their own available experiences for perspective and effective analogies. He can be reached at www.OvercomingTheFearOfDeath.org.