Unconditional Love


by Jayaram V

We spend a lot of time in trying to be correct and perfect and win the attention and approval of others. In our own egoistic ways, we expect the same perfection from others, especially those who are important to our peace and happiness. As parents, we expect a lot of perfection from our children. We want them to become responsible adults and bring a good name to themselves and to their family.

We follow a similar pattern of our behavior in other relationships also making them or breaking them, depending upon how people stand up to our expectations or live according to the standards we deem important. We categorize and stereotype them according to our beliefs, desires, attachment and judgment.

If people fit into our expectations, we love them and like them. Otherwise, we criticize them or keep them away. There is certain selfishness in this approach, which we chose to ignore because it does not make us feel good.

Most of the conflicts in our relationships arise because of our desires and expectations. When both people in a relationship are selfish and self-centered, they do not remain in that relationship for long. Eventually, they develop differences and separate.

The ideal relationship is that which is based upon unconditional mutual love and respect. It is as difficult as finding an ideal or saintly human being upon earth. We cannot practice it if we have desires and expectations and if we are guided by fear, egoism and self-interest.

We are potentially capable of unconditional love, but it does not surface in us easily until we subject ourselves to intense spiritual transformations. In our eagerness to be something, have something and find security, we build walls around ourselves and become prisoners of our own actions, losing sight of our innate ability to radiate the light of God and His unconditional love. We cease to see the divinity in ourselves as well as in ours.

The first requirement to manifest unconditional love in your life is the cultivation of detachment and dispassion for which you have to renounce desires and practice equanimity. The second requirement is the practice of compassion, non-injury and empathy. When you have these you care for others, think of them, and learn to use your energies to heal them. The third important requirement is to realize your divine nature and the divine nature of the whole existence. You have to transcend your physical Self and acknowledge your spiritual Self, which is universal, eternal and infinite. The same Self is present in all. Outwardly we may be different, but inwardly we all bear the same Self. As the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad declares, "It is not for the love of all that all is dear; but for the love of the Soul in the all that all is dear."

The secret regarding unconditional love is that it manifests in you when your self-love becomes universal love. For that you have to see your inner Self everywhere and everything in your inner Self. Of course, it will take a lot of time before you experience even a little of it.

Unconditional love does not make any sense to you if you are steeped in ignorance and do not see any purpose beyond fulfilling your immediate and baser needs and desires. To grow into the nature of God you have to cultivate an expansive vision.

If there is one virtue which we are all supposed to cultivate and manifest in us, it is the wonderful virtue of loving everyone and everything that is infused with the wondrous light of God. What is the use of being a vegetarian, or being virtuous, or of being morally correct, if our hearts are incapable of loving the creation of God unconditionally? What is the use of all our knowledge of the world and its things, when we are incapable, in our hearts, of loving humanity unconditionally?

We may study scriptures and participate in intellectual debates, but it will serve no purpose if we do not have a loving heart. We may judge others based on the religious morality we learn. But is of no use in our own spiritual development, if we do not follow it ourselves and validate it based upon our own experience. Religious dogma is not meant to develop a blind following, but rather a deep curiosity to search for truth.

Unconditional love or our infinite innate capacity to lover others unconditionally, can take us beyond the mortal plane into the realm of immortal gods. When you go beyond desire-ridden judgments and selfish expectations and accept people and things with love and compassion, you earned the right to reach the abode of God. When you do not act with moral superiority and religious prejudice, you become a source of love and healing to others.

As human beings, we all have our weaknesses. We are incapable of exhibiting the virtuous qualities of God in our ordinary selves. However, our weaknesses and imperfections can be overcome if we strive to transcend our lower nature with abundant faith and love in God and cultivate the single most important virtue of unconditional love. Unconditional love can arise only in a mind that is truly detached, that has no preference and is established in equanimity and sameness.

Therefore, bring love into your life and radiate it unconditionally, like a flower radiates its fragrance, by cultivating detachment and equanimity of the mind. Accept everything that comes into your life as a part of divine creation and as a part of your destiny. Build relationships not for mutual satisfaction of wants and needs, but for the sake of unconditional love, without expecting anything in return.

First, practice it towards those against whom you may harbor negativity and resentment or those whom you find difficult to forgive. Learn to forgive them and let go of your feelings of hurt and indignation. Then gradually spread the same attitude towards one and all. As part of the practice, you should radiate your love in your daily life towards one and all, and try to be forgiving and helpful. If you start practicing these suggestions, slowly you develop a compassionate heart, which will open the doors of God's unconditional love to you. Unconditional love is the simplest and easiest path to the heaven of bliss and immortality.

If you examine carefully, most of the things in creation already practice unconditional love. It is usually the humans who have a difficulty in practicing it because they are subject to freewill, desires and attachment.

A tree does not choose whom to give its fruit. It is we who build a fence around it. A well does not choose whom to give water. A river does not choose whose boat it will carry. A flower does not choose to whom it will spread its fragrance. The sun and moon do not choose to whom to radiate their warmth and light.

God's unconditional love manifests when we silence our desires and suspend our judgment. Both are difficult to practice. When they are absent, God's love manifests itself. It is in the silent heart of an ascetic yogi (muni) the spring of unconditional love wells up.

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