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Real love is unconditional love.

Love is not reserved for our pets, or our bed partners, or parents. This, or any practice is not about getting laid or married. It’s about being in the world and living your life with joy. And the only way to do that is through your practice. It’s not a practice if you only do it on your meditation cushion or yoga mat. That’s best left to self-congratulating phonies who let the world know how no one else is spiritual as they are.

And before we get too far along, we want to make it clear that this is not just about loving each other in a romantic relationship, it’s about loving everyone: our friends, neighbors, animals, and even our enemies…and it’s a lifelong practice.

To love unconditionally means loving everyone, all the time. No exceptions.

If there is one thing we need to get our souls through the Kali Yuga, its to connect in love with other souls who are also seeking the Brahmaloka; union with God.  Sometimes the best we can do is combine our droplets into a puddle and sometimes, we can combine to create an ocean.  Our Sangha may be two or two hundred but nonetheless, we need to build and nourish them and those within them.

So, if you want to be able to share your deepest gifts, you must be able to receive them from another.

The ability to receive love is inseparable from the ability to give it.  They are as inseparable as Shiva is from Shakti – they cannot exist without each other. 

It is easier to believe in God than it is to believe in love. Love requires more faith and submission than God. And why? Because accepting love is ultimate surrender. And the ability to surrender is faith.

To accept love you become a servant, obeying and submitting to that love. Receiving love is a responsibility, and accountability is key. We are accountable to those we love not just to love, support, and honor them, but to receive their love as well.

When we receive someone’s love, we serve them by giving them a home for their love. And while they may be ready to share their deepest gifts, if we do not receive them, their heart suffers. No one wants to feel rejected…and it doesn’t get any more hurtful than someone telling us they don’t want our love. It makes us feel unlovable.

Rejecting love, in the end, is about feeling unlovable. It’s about not loving our whole selves enough to welcome the love of another and share our own love from deep within our own hearts.

This lack of self love makes it very difficult to receive unconditional love. This does not mean that love is unwanted or unneeded. We have seen friends that were desperate for love, actively seducing everyone they met. And when they found that love they became cruel. This came from a well of self-loathing, whispering “if they love me, there must be something wrong with them.”

Sometimes it’s something as simple as being able to receive affection from someone.  We dismiss affection due to self-consciousness, false modesty, or the desire to be pursued. These ego responses are damaging to everyone involved. Rejected affection leaves everyone wounded, while rejecting affection is a missed opportunity to connect with another, and simply feel good.

For some, the love they’ve experienced has always come with strings attached – with expectations and flaming hoops to jump through so they can “earn” the love they receive.  Too often it has come at the hands of a controlling friend, parent, or partner and they come to believe that this is real love. And with this in mind, they see the price of receiving it as too high.

We’ve all seen or experienced the dynamic of someone thinking that loving us means that they now own us, control us, and can tell us what to do. But this is not the real, and true unconditional love we are seeking. Unconditional love comes without terms or limits, and when we love someone this way, telling them what to do, say, or wear is unthinkable. You can’t love and control someone at the same time! It’s the ability to recognize the difference between conditional and unconditional love that makes a huge difference in our ability to receive it.

In love relationships and friendships, some automatically reject others: “he’s too nice”; “she’s too needy” (not to be confused with weak-willed men, and demanding women, or those with personality disorders, and your garden variety psychos). Their needs are invalidated & cut down to match what the other can give. Claiming someone is “too needy” is easier to say than “I can’t give you what you need.”

Sometimes rejecting love comes in strange disguises. It’s the woman who is too “strong and able to take care of herself” that she does not allow anyone to have her back.  It’s the man who has taken care of himself for so long that he does not allow his partner to do simple kind things for him to show their love. And when we reject these simple signs of love, we’re denying them the ability to show how they love us. This is something we deeply need at our core.

For others, it’s a history of heartbreak and disappointment that keeps them from accepting and receiving love. They never feel quite safe enough so they keep their heart locked up so that little is allowed to enter or leave it.

Heartbreak and heartache occur when our needs are not met. The pain we feel comes from breaking free of the unsatisfying relationships and interactions we experience. Yes, the pain sucks. But, the pain gives us the opportunity to define our needs and to set parameters and boundaries so that we find this unconditional love.

 You don’t detox from heartbreak – heartbreak is the detox.

Through the Love Sadhana we come to understand a very real truth; we need each other.  Our souls flourish and grow best when they are loved, supported, accepted, and honored by experiencing God, the divine energy of the universe, through sharing love with another soul.

Needing others, individuals and communities, is not a sign of weakness. It is not some kind of character flaw. It is a sign that you have the courage to admit that you are happiest and grow the most when your heart is open and being shared with another; a lover, a family member, a friend, or a complete stranger.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.” ~John Donne

To experience the full nourishment of unconditional love, we must open the flow in both directions – you’ve got to give it to get it and get it to give it.  And even though this may sound reciprocal or transactional, it is not.

What it means is the selfless expression of love that loves because it is love.  It is what the ancient Greeks called agape. Agape love is an act of faith, and act of will. We choose to embody love and share it with everyone and everything.

And it’s easier to reach the goal if we are all moving in the same direction together, because in a real community of love no one will let you fall behind.