At a birthday party last weekend, I was talking to a longtime friend who was, as I understood it, bummed that a mutual friend of ours, someone who had been his best friend, is giving him the cold shoulder these days. I said to my friend that I felt confident that his friend still loves him deeply, but just is unable to show it.
I recited for him a quote that I love from Werner Erhard (the founder of e.s.t./Landmark Education/The Forum personal growth courses), since I knew that my friend had done a lot of Landmark courses. The quote is,
What I’m about to tell you is very real – I’m telling you the truth – I’m telling you what’s really so for those people: their inability to respond, their bound-upedness, is the highest expression of love which they are able to muster. About this I know the answer: they have a capacity for love, like yours or like mine, which is absolute. The only thing bound up in their life is the expression of that capacity. So, what you’re getting is a bound expression of an absolute love for you.
I think that ideal is brilliant. After listening to this for the first time many years ago, I realized that, of all the people I have met in my life, as large as my heart has stretched to love them, I will forever and always continue to love them that much. That love is true, however, on the deepest levels of my heart – the deep deep place where my heart merges into purity of my soul, hovering just above the deepest point in my individual self, that place where my individual soul merges into the infinity of the cosmic soul.
On a more superficial level, though, I have a life to live, I have places to go and things to do. I may not feel love for any particular person who I’ve known – I may not even like them, or want to give them any time out of my life. But I also know that that is the “bound expression” of my love, as Werner Erhart talked about, and that, on the deepest level, it is impossible for my heart to truly close once it has opened (the “absolute love” that he mentioned), and that I will always love the people who have been in my life as much as I ever loved them the most.
Another thing I love about this way of thinking about things is having an awareness that anyone who has loved me in the past, on the deepest level, underneath their personality, their defenses, their preoccupations, and the rest of the worldly bullshit, still loves me as much as they ever did. If there is static in the present day, then I may never see or feel or hear about this love, we may never “work it out” or “get clear”, but that love in there somewhere, at the heart of things, where Truth lives. Feeling this creates a sense of peace and calm in me.
It is normal to feel love for, anger towards, and fear of a former partner, since the essential bond between you has been defeated but not ended by separation. This bond of love is unconditional and beyond the reach of betrayal, change, or separation. In healthy grief work, we acknowledge this bond but no longer act on it. The bond remains but transactions are ended. Now we contain the love for the other, without having to take care of the other. We contain anger, without trying to gain satisfaction for it. We contain fear without trying to devise complex strategies to avoid chance meetings.
— David Richo
No matter what you are feeling on the surface, deep down you want to give and receive unbounded love.
— David Deida