Unconditional Love

This article on unconditional love is based on a talk I gave to the Mindfulness In Healing Sangha on June 8, 2022. It was inspired by two people, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen and Anita Moorjani, author of Dying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing.

These days, we are living in fear. We are constantly seeing mass shootings related mostly to white supremacy, living in a pandemic and confronted with climate change that threatens all life on earth. Dr. Dan Siegel says there are five concurrent pandemics:

  1. Covid-19
  2. POC being murdered for centuries – social injustice
  3. Misinformation
  4. Breaking boundaries- environmental destruction
  5. Separation- thinking we are a separate self

All of these have given rise to a great sense of fear in a lot of people. And, as Dr. Gerald Jampolsky famously stated, “Love is letting go of fear.” So unconditional love is the antidote of fear.

Unconditional love is the kind of love you share with someone when there are no strings attached. Your love for the other person or pet or whoever else never depends on their state of mind, their actions, or their words. You love them unconditionally.

I began the talk with a poem written by a person I have unconditional love for: my daughter, Rachael – a well-respected yoga teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner in San Francisco.

“What does FREEDOM mean?”

Here is what came:
You have to clear away the clutter to hear the truth.
Beneath the clutter is beauty, grace, joy, unconditional love.
When you unlock the truth, you are FREE.
In that FREEDOM anything is possible!
Freedom is not being held back in any way.
Freedom is the ability to do whatever you want, when you want, how you want.
Freedom is detachment from any negative belief that holds you back.
Freedom is the feeling of a deep full breath, flowing movement, and an uncontrolled laugh.
Freedom is a gift.
Freedom is when you spread your wings and soar without fear and with complete joy.
Freedom is space in your body, mind, and soul.
It is ease. It is peace. It is love.
Freedom is the ability to fully express yourself.
So…LET GO, release and BE FREE.

Rachel Naomi Remen was a co-author with me in the book, I Am with You: Love Letters to Cancer Patients Patients. She said, “One moment of unconditional love may call into question a whole lifetime of feeling unworthy, and invalidate it.”

Anita has been an inspiration for me for many years now. She survived a near death experience in 2006 after suffering for four years with cancer and lived to tell about it. She had many insights from her experience which she spoke about in a Ted Talk in 2013.

Anita’s insights are related to these five ideas:

  1. Focus our awareness on unconditional love
  2. Live life fearlessly
  3. Engage in humor and laughter and joy
  4. View life is a gift
  5. Always be yourself

I extracted the insights from the transcription:

I want to share with you the five biggest lessons I learned from this experience. Number one the most important thing that I learned the most important thing we have here to focus our awareness on is love. That is number one and when I say love it’s very easy to say or for us to say we need to love other people but one of the things I learned is that one of the reasons I got cancer is because I didn’t love myself. That’s hugely important when we love ourselves we value ourselves. When we value ourselves we teach people how to treat us. When you love yourself you find no need to control or bully other people nor do you allow other people to control or bully you. So loving yourself is as important as loving everybody else and the more you love yourself the more love you have to give other people.

Number two the next biggest lesson I learned was to live life fearlessly. Most of us are brought up on a diet of fear. We’re taught to fear everything. I used to fear everything. I used to fear cancer. I used to fear eating the wrong foods. I used to fear displeasing people. I fear just about everything. I feared failing and most of us have brought up fearing everything and people think that fear keeps you safe that’s actually not true. Love keeps you safe. When you love yourself and when you love other people you make sure that you keep yourself safe and that you keep other people out of dangerous way. Love keeps you much safer than fairness the.

Third thing I learned that is so important is humor and laughter and joy. We’re born knowing this stuff. We’re born knowing that it’s important to laugh because that’s what kids do all the time. We’re born knowing love and fearlessness but it gets conditioned out of us as we grow up. Laughter is so important and humor and finding your joy in life. It’s more important than any other spiritual activity that you can think of. If we had more laughter, in fact, if even our politicians learn to laugh, we’d have a very different world. And if we had more laughter you would have less people with illness. You’d need less hospitals and you’d need less prisons as well.

The fourth thing I learned is that life is a gift. It really is. Most of us live our lives as though life is a chore, but it shouldn’t be that way. And it’s unfortunate that when only when we lose something that we value do we really realize the true value of it. And it took me losing my life to realize the value of my life. And I don’t want other people to make the same mistake, which is why I’m standing here sharing my message because I don’t want people to realize when it’s too late. The value of their life and your life is a gift. Even the challenges that come to you are a gift. When I had cancer that was the biggest challenge I could ever have, but today when I look back on it I feel it’s the biggest gift I could have had. People think that the cancer or even I thought the cancer was killing me but actually I was killing myself before I got cancer. The cancer saved my life. All your challenges are gifts. In the end you will always find that your challenges are a gift. And if you’re in a challenge and it doesn’t feel like a gift yet, it means you haven’t got to the end yet.

The fifth and final thing which is so important that I learned is that the most important thing for you is to always be yourself. Be as you as you can be. Shine your light as brightly as you can. Embrace your uniqueness. Just realize who you are, get to know who you are love yourself unconditionally, and just be yourself. And with those five things I invite you to go and live your life fearlessly. Thank you very much.

Here is the recording for the Mindfulness In Healing talk on Unconditional Love on June 8, 2022.

Unconditional love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being. It is not so much an active emotion as a state of being. It’s not “I love you” for this or that reason, not “I love you if you love me.” It’s love for no reason, love without an object. It’s just sitting in love, a love that incorporates the chair and the room and permeates everything around. The thinking mind is extinguished in love. – Ram Dass

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