Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Love is a Choice

(Posted at Dec 05, 2006 at Friendster Blog)

Once in awhile, if we're fortunate, a simple, yet profound concept will appear in such a way as to fully command our attention, shift our understanding of life, and gift us with a more comprehensive core belief. This was the case with a wonderful little book by Gerald Jampolsky titled, "Love Is Letting Go Of Fear". Inspired (I believe) by "A Course In Miracles", Jampolsky quite simply and directly postulated that all of our experiences can be distilled down to either love or fear, and that as we release fear, love appears. I realized that this was such a fundamental, irrefutable tenet of human existence, and was amazed at how it began immediately to shift my perception of my life and life in general. I was also amazed that such an important core belief had not been presented to me from early childhood (which is a commentary on Western culture). Within a short time I was able to recognize the either/or appearance of love or fear in even the most simple of situations, experiences, and interactions with others. There was always some flavor of one or the other.

Typically, it was initially easier for me to recognize and distinguish between love and fear in activities outside of myself. Gradually I grew more competent in recognizing either - within my self, my emotions, and my thoughts. Truthfully, I benefited from considerable assistance (workshops, therapy, breathwork, vision quests, spiritual teachings, etc.) during this phase of my personal growth work. Nevertheless, I was fascinated. Diligent observance led to another realization: most love is contaminated with fear, at least in the mainstream American culture and in most relationships. Moments of pure love do occur, yet, because of the kind of conditioning most children receive, fear creeps in to contaminate it. True intimacy requires uncontaminated love. It's no wonder that many people have a "fear of intimacy"; it stems from the inability to fully love, free from the presence of fear.

Another way to describe real love could be a description of love free from conditions, i.e. "unconditional love". Most of the time, most people love with a mixed message - "I love you, but... I also fear that..." Therefore, because of that fear, people feel a need to include some conditions on love in order to feel safe, to feel in control, to protect themselves, etc. My guess is that this is familiar territory for you, the reader of this article. I recall hearing an author/Psychologist - a recognized authority - unequivocally state that unconditional love is basically not possible for humans (!). Such is the prevailing myth, even at the professional level.

The issue of sharing and experiencing real love and authentic intimacy goes beyond simply loving without conditions or fear. There is a second level where the issue is one of sustaining love, sustaining intimacy. Many people are capable of moments of unconditional love, yet unable to sustain that loving connection for long before the contaminating effects of fear enter in. Often the fear originates with the one who is being loved, for due to their past history they are convinced that "this won't last" and pain will surely follow. I call this "inability to sustain intimacy". My guess is that, given a bit of thought, you too will agree that this difficulty with sustaining intimacy and a loving connection is rampant in our culture. So the challenge is how to create and share loving intimacy and keep that love free from fear. The title of Jampolski's book seems to indicate that love is what emerges when fear is released.

His book pointed to the creation of a new cultural myth, and at the core of that myth was a radical core belief that in any given moment and situation there is only love or fear, and a radical directive which stated that we can choose between the two. It was around the same time that I first read Jampolski that I was also powerfully inspired by a song (also based on text from "A Course In Miracles"). One line in particular seemed to have "cosmic reverb" on it, and it rang repeatedly through my mind: "I can be happy the rest of my life, choosing to have peace of mind." To think that I have a choice (!) and, furthermore, that I am able to choose! What radical concepts, indeed! Eventually, through the great blessings of my study and practice of Sacred Tantra I have come to understand that it is the repeated choosing of love over fear, moment to moment that creates and sustains intimacy.

But how do I choose? This simple question has led me down a number of (mostly productive) paths, learning skills to align with love instead of fear, and discovering and purifying the fear-based blocks to love within me. Those blocks are to be found in nearly everyone, and found at every level, from the tension and congestion in the physical body, to the emotional blocks in the chakras and psychic/auric field. This is, of course, the basic theme of modern Psychology, both humanistic and transpersonal, and of the entire human potential, personal growth movement - purify the negativity/self-destructive/dis-empowering aspects, and build the positive, life-enhancing aspects on all levels. What "Love Is Letting Go Of Fear" and "A Course In Miracles" added for me in the early '80s was a sense of choosing, on a moment-to-moment basis, where I want to place my loyalty - to love and the positive or fear and negativity.

This sense of momentary immediacy also helped me integrate my psychological healing and personal growth journey with my interest in Buddhism. In order to make the choice and continuously affirm my loyalty to love I needed to more fully understand: What is love? What is fear? I began to understand, with the help of Tantra and Buddhism, that love is the dynamic energy that results from love-based consciousness, just as the evidence of fear is a result of fear-based consciousness. (Note: in my workshops I explain "karma" as the effects of fear-based consciousness.) Tantra offers a cosmology that describes the ongoing interaction of energy and consciousness, an alchemical interaction that is constantly creating life and reality as we know it in any given moment. Thus, love could be seen as the integration of love energy and love consciousness, and, likewise, the same is true about fear.

Thus, as a consequence, it can be said that there are two realities - the realities of love-based and fear-based consciousness - virtually only a thought apart. The character of the energy of love-based reality is connection, mutual support, joy, ease and flow, nurturance, peace of mind, trust, guidance, and creativity. While the nature of the energy of fear-based reality is separation, struggle, suffering, competition, scarcity, abuse, and victimization.

All of the above may indeed be points that you are already aware of, in which case I applaud you. How wonderful to be reminded of such a significant and impactful core belief! I encourage you to continue to choose the reality and energy of love-based consciousness, to affirm your loyalty to that reality on all levels of your being, as deep and as high as possible, and to remake that profound choice again and again, moment to moment. Like me, you will probably continue to discover the rewarding truth of that song, "I can be happy the rest of my life, choosing to have peace of mind." Which is to say, choosing love and experiencing inner and outer peace and intimacy.

©2002 Robert Frey, MA

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