Apparently, the Buddha said,
Affection for a select few (dear ones) causes attachment, which in turn brings suffering when parting occurs. So develop unconditional love for all, including the ‘dear ones.’ It is a far superior love.
My nearest understanding or experience of unconditional love was Mother’s Love. That was challenged by a beloved friend when she reminded me that Mother’s Love too, is conditional as “it is because you are my child that I love you unconditionally”. The very fact of that relationship or bond is what depicts the conditions of unconditional love; is that still unconditional love or unconditional loving? At that point in time, I realised how limited my love was for anybody, whether I loved them conditionally or unconditionally – I loved them because I was related to them whether as family, friends, pets or things. You see, I didn’t see that I could love a stranger or a thing not related to me.
I previously had this meaning that unconditional love does not leave anybody out, which is exactly interpreted in Buddha’s context stated above. And the closest experience I have ever had of what seems to be unconditional love, is recognising that nothing was amiss – not a table, a man pouring coffee behind the counter, the person sitting in front of me. There was no expectation of anything else to be different, and just total pure presence to everything that was within awareness. Nothing was left out, not even a cockroach.
Having said that, this state is experienced in glimpses in my case; and they were blissful experiences. Yet, when it comes to loving someone as in where attention is directed at someone, judgment or the commentary in the mind is constantly ongoing especially when defilements or rather the conditions and needs of this person’s well being, how he or she is communicating and reacting or responding to me all come into play without much of a choice when I have not addressed truthfully the reason why or what I need or love this person for in my life. That is what would be termed as conditional loving – you do this, I love you; you don’t do this, I don’t love you. Strangely in my context though, I don’t see this even as loving but merely needing, as in needs.
Many people have the misconstrued idea that detachment means to let go of the person(s) we love in our lives and that tantamount to leaving loved ones physically in form. In my own experience, it is more of letting go of the meanings, ideas and concepts of them in the mind as that becomes a natural result of detachment rather than actually “performing” a detachment ritual. As long as we are not addressing the ideas and concepts of what we would hold our loved ones for in the mind, any form of detachment only results in further anguish and pain instead of peace and perpetuates the guilt on top of the already present guilt yet to be known and addressed. Labels or roles such as a father, a mother, a husband, a wife, a lover, a beloved, a child, a friend, a teacher, a student – all comes with some form of definition and ideas and when one is unaware of what symbolically have been projected onto others, we hang on to these people for dear life in specific situations and the unconscious and conscious expectations become a must-impose factor where when needs or conditions are not fulfilled, the relationship experiences become unpleasant.
As much as I cannot possibly understand what the Buddha, J or what my teachers share about unconditional love where it includes everybody (probably it is because I am not ‘there’ yet); but in my own experience where I can relate to, unconditional loving is not imposing my perceived conditions onto you, being totally present to you and accepting you for who you are when you are within my awareness. That means to say, at that moment you are free of any form of my perceptions and judgments related to you in the past. To put it more rightfully, these things do not even arise in the mind. When I am with you, say having lunch, unconditional love is present although my attention seems to be targeted at you and this means that I am recognising that there is no thoughts about what, how or why you should be this or that. Whatever that you do at that point in my perception is perfect and as loving as it gets. So while unconditional love does not exclude anyone but where is anyone else but you within my awareness at that moment? You become anyone and everyone. You become my entire world, or to put it in absolute words, you become me; and that feels wonderful and peaceful.
Perhaps unconditional love differs from unconditional loving? I do not know that yet. But at least, I have experienced that freedom and peace within in order to love like that. Not that love is a doing, but by just being there with you is already a loving. Having said that, it is always a work in progress as and when a trigger comes in and that too, will not have anything to do with you but something for me to work within.
While to many, love is an idea and very well it is; but what I am speaking of here is something that cannot fully be expressed or comprehended by words alone but only experienced in itself. It is within awareness when we are present to ourselves and this I do not mean shutting out the world, but simply in the state of being. Again, many may conclude that this is not possible at all and this is because they have not yet experienced that. However, to make a finale on that is only closing doors to that possibility.
Do you really think you are any different from the Buddha, J or any great masters who speak of unconditional love?