By Pranada Comtois
We are driven for love and by love.
We must feel loved to feel whole. But do you feel lovable or loved? Sometimes? All the time? Almost never?
You may have a life companion, family and friends, yet not feel loved or worthy of love. Or you may be a loner without significant relationships but feel lovable and loved. Loving relationships can go a long way in confirming our worth, countering negative self talk, and making us feel lovable. But they aren’t what make us feel lovable. If we don’t love ourselves—truly, deeply, fully, and with clarity—we won’t feel loved.
Even if we surround ourselves with a community of loving people we may still feel unworthy of love. After all, those who purportedly love us can make us feel unloved or unlovable. Their style of relating to us, as well as their own needs and shortcomings, combined with our misperceptions and misconceptions can create untenable situations.
Our inner lack of love cannot be resolved by affirmations, creative visualizations, mindfulness, or meditation. We can look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning and repeat, “I love you. You’re worthy of love,” and still feel unlovable. That’s because we often miss the distinction between mundane love of the false self and divine love of the genuine self.
Only in realizing my real self can I experience real love because I’m not the body, mind, or emotions—or the illusory identities associated with this temporary frame I inhabit. Love of the body-mind won’t make me feel whole and satisfied. I require love for myself as a spiritual being.
And how can I love myself unless I know myself?
But, not all practices simultaneous endow us with self love. This is the promise of bhakti’s divine love, or wise-love.
As a spark of spirit, a unit of consciousness, we are a most beloved subject of love. We must be loved to be whole, and we are givers-lovers. Feeling unlovable or unloved is only an imagined state of mind without truth in reality. When we wake to our eternal self we awaken to our enduring nature as lovers who are supremely lovable.
The ancient Bhagavata, the sequel to the Bhagavad Gita, says, “Sometimes we suffer because we see a tiger in a dream or a snake in a vision, but actually there is neither a tiger nor a snake. Thus we create some situation in a subtle form and suffer the consequences. These sufferings cannot be mitigated unless we are awakened from our dream.” (Bhag. 4.29.35)
When we awaken and see the self, we naturally see the Source from where we are generated, just as when I see a spark of fire, I will also see the fire-source. As a spark of our Divine Other, our nature reflects his. As he is a lover, we are lovers. As he is lovable, we are lovable. We don’t need the confirmation of the world, or current relationships, to validate the existential truth of our lovability; we experience it when we awaken to the self.
And more, just as our Divine Other cannot be moved by conditional love, the love of this world cannot fill us. We must have the most exalted, pure love, or wise-love: the unconditional love the self knows for itself and its Source.
We easily progress in the art of self awakening by bhakti’s simple method of hearing about and chanting about our Divine Friend. In kirtan or japa (solitary chanting with prayer beads), we can chant the sacred great mantra described in the Upanishads: Hare Krishna.
Kirtan, the call-and-response singing that is taking the yoga-asana community by storm, is the beginning of an amazing journey to the self and wise-love. By associating with our Infallible Lover, our infallible lovability is reflected to us and our love fully reciprocated. The magic of bhakti reveals the lover and her lovability, the Beloved, and their mutual wise-love.
Even the beginning experiences of this relationship can alleviate, forever, our feelings of being unloved or unlovable.
Pranada Comtois is the author of Wise-Love: Bhakti and the Search for the Soul of Consciousness. As a devoted pilgrim and teacher, her writing sheds light on bhakti’s wisdom school of heartfulness with a focus on how to culture wise-love in our lives and relationships so we can experience the inherent, unbounded joy of the self. The wisdom of her teaching grows from living for twenty years as a contemplative in bhakti ashrams, and another twenty years raising a family and running two multi-million-dollar businesses. Her writing has appeared in multiple online and print publications. She is a featured speaker in the film, Women of Bhakti.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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