The Path to Love
Excerpted from The Path to Love by Deepak Chopra. Copyright © 1997 by Deepak Chopra.
All of us need to believe that we are loved and lovable. We began life with confidence on both points, bathed in a mother's love and swaddled in our own innocence. Love was never in question, but over time our certainty clouded. When you look at yourself today, can you still make the two statements every infant could if it had the words?
I am completely loved.
I am completely lovable.
Few people can, for looking at yourself honestly you see flaws that make you less than completely lovable and less than perfectly loved. In many ways this seems right to you, for perfect love is supposedly not of this world. Yet in a deeper sense, what you call flaws are really just the scars of hurts and wounds accumulated over a lifetime. When you look in the mirror, you think you are looking at yourself realistically, but your mirror doesn't reveal the truth that endures despite all hurt:
You were created to be completely loved and completely lovable for your whole life.
In a way it is amazing that you do not realize this, because underneath everything you think and feel, innocence is still intact. Time cannot blemish your essence, your portion of spirit. But if you lose sight of this essence, you will mistake yourself for your experiences, and there is no doubt that experience can do much to obliterate love. In an often hostile and brutal world, maintaining innocence seems impossible. Therefore, you find yourself experiencing only so much love and only so much lovability.
This can change.
Although you perceive yourself in limited terms, as a mind and a body confined in time and space, there is a wealth of spiritual teaching that says otherwise. In spirit you are unbounded by time and space, untouched by experience. In spirit you are pure love.
The reason you do not feel completely loved and completely lovable is that you do not identify with your spiritual nature. Your sense of love has lost one thing it cannot afford to do without: its higher dimension. What would it be like to restore this lost part of yourself?
Mind, body, and spirit would unite--this union creates the love you have to give. You and your beloved would unite--this creates the love you have to share.
In our deepest nature each person is meant to be the hero or heroine of an eternal love story. The story begins in innocence, with a baby's birth into a mother's loving arms. It proceeds through stages of growth, as the young child step' out into the world. With more and more experience the circle of love widens, including first family and friends, then intimate partners, but also taking in love of abstract things, like learning and truth. The ripening journey brings us to love of giving, and the blossoming of higher values, such as compassion, forgiveness, and altruism. Finally there is the direct experience of spirit itself, which is pure love. The journey climaxes in the same knowledge that a baby began with, although it couldn't voice that knowledge: I am love.
You know that you have fully experienced love when you turn into love--that is the spiritual goal of life.
Not many people find the spiritual goal of life. The aching need created by lack of love can only be filled by learning anew to love and be loved. All of us must discover for ourselves that love is a force as real as gravity, and that being upheld in love every day, every hour, every minute is not a fantasy-it is intended as our natural state.
This book is about reviving love stories that should never have faded. The union of self and spirit is not only possible but inevitable. The spiritual meaning of love is best measured by what it can do, which is many things.
Love can heal.
Love can renew.
Love can make us safe.
Love can inspire us with its power. Love can bring us closer to God.
Everything love is meant to do is possible. Knowing this, however, has only made the gap between love and non-love more painful.
Countless people have experienced love--as pleasure, sex, security, having someone else fulfill their daily needs--without seeing that a special path has opened to them. Socially, the "normal" cycle of love is simply to find a suitable partner, marry, and raise a family. But this social pattern isn't a path, because the experience of marriage and raising a family isn't automatically spiritual. Sad to say, many people enter lifelong relationships in which love fades over time or provides lasting companionship without growing in its inner dimension. A spiritual path has only one reason to exist: it shows the way for the soul to grow. As it grows, more of spiritual truth is revealed, more of the soul's promise is redeemed.
When you find your path, you will also find your love story. People today are consumed by doubts about their relationships: Have I found the right partner? Am I being true to myself? Have I given the best part of myself away? As a result, there is a restless kind of consumer shopping for partners, as if the "right" one can be found by toting up a potential mate's pluses and minuses until the number of pluses matches some mythical standard. The path to love, however, is never about externals. However good or bad you feel about your relationship, the person you are with at this moment is the "right" person, because he or she is a mirror of who you are inside. Our culture hasn't taught us this (as it has failed to teach us so much about spiritual realities). When you struggle with your partner, you are struggling with yourself. Every fault you see in them touches a denied weakness in yourself. Every conflict you wage is an excuse not to face a conflict within. The path to love therefore clears up a monumental mistake that millions of people make--the mistake that someone "out there" is going to give (or take) something that is not already yours. When you truly find love, you find yourself.
Therefore the path to love isn't a choice, for all of us must find out who we are. This is our spiritual destiny. The path can be postponed; you can lose faith in it or even despair that love exists at all. None of that is permanent; only the path is. Doubt reflects the ego, which is bound in time and space; love reflects God, eternal divine essence. The ultimate promise on the path to love is that you will walk in the light of a truth extending beyond any truth your mind presently knows.