We hear a great deal about new paradigms in physics, business, healing, and just about every other aspect of life. Isn't it amazing that the most fundamental shift of all is rarely discussed? Love is the greatest power in the universe, the power than infuses all of creation. How miraculous that a new paradigm for LOVE is emerging at the dawn of the New Millennium!
The ancient Greeks attempted to explain Love by breaking it down into categories. Agape, or spiritual love and eros or erotic love, were not only mutually exclusive, but also differently valued, as were platonic love (friendship) and romantic love. Over time, Eros, the awe inspiring God of Love, devolved into Cupid, an infantile cutie pie. Similarly, the incredible cosmic force that is Love became diminished in our minds if
not our souls, so that today the word "Love" is misinterpreted and misunderstood. We use it in everyday life without knowing what it means. When we do begin to understand what it means, we no longer feel comfortable using "love" as a synonym for "attachment," "dependency," "sexual desire," "infatuation," "romance," "control" or any of the other limited emotions which have been confused with Love. Genuine love makes us just and able to see our shortcomings rather than becoming defensive and blaming or judging others. When the heart is opened, hatred, separation, possessiveness, and betrayal become impossible.
Spiritually oriented people are familiar, of course, with this larger concept of Love, which is often referred to as unconditional love. However, resistance arises when it comes to bringing the abstract spiritual truth of Love directly into our bodies and intimate relationships. People usually fall in love; but they rarely rise, though what is intended is to rise through love, rather than fall.
A New Paradigm for Love, which might more accurately be called an Ancient Paradigm for Love, since its roots can be found in indigenous cultures around the globe, can help us to replace our dysfunctional ideas about how love works with genuine heart wisdom. It offers a satisfying alternative to the failures of both traditional marriages based on social and economic duty and modern marriages based on hopes for perpetual romance. It helps transform static intimate relationships based on futile fantasies of security, predictability, and control into vibrant, soul nourishing friendships.
The New Paradigm for Love can best be understood by looking at several key shifts which take place when people interact from this model.
1. You are the source of love. It is within you and radiates outward.
Recently, a client called me in tears. As she put it, her latest Prince had turned out to be a Frog. Linda despairingly expressed the fear that there are no "good men," out there. Instead of reassuring her that the world is full of men eager to be loved by her, I suggested that she would do well to immerse herself in the love inside herself rather than pursuing romance. "Oh yeah, I do great at loving myself," Linda replied, "but I want man to hold me."
"I'm not talking about loving yourself," I responded, I'm talking about finding the Source of Love inside of you.
"What do you mean?" she asked, clearly puzzled. Like many women, Linda had been paying lip service to this New Paradigm concept while continuing to believe that love comes from a romantic partner. "When you find the love within you, it will also manifest in loving relationships," I told her. "You can't fake it, and until you become your own source of love your neediness will repel instead of attract love into your life."
2. Love is a vibration, an energy, a state of consciousness. It cannot be given and it cannot be received. It is more like tuning your radio. Love is not a pie, which can be cut into slices and eaten up. Or to put it another way, the capacity for love and the amount of love available are unlimited. Love, unlike money, is not used up by its expenditure.
3. Grounded relationships are a function of shared purpose, not sex appeal. Think of a triangle where the base is spiritual goals and shared life purpose. The next level up is alignment in values and beliefs, then emotional resonance. Sex is the tip of the triangle. Now turn the triangle upside down and see what happens!
4. Contracts and agreements designed to ensure that your needs get met undermine Love. Contracts discourage growth, because they take you out of the present and into an imaginary future. Furthermore, you can never negotiate enough agreements to eliminate your internal fears. Better to confront them directly, rather than hide behind a Relationship. Besides, agreements are a set-up for disappointment, for finding fault with your partner, and are best limited to practical details like whose turn it is to cook dinner. Expectations and agendas grow out of a mistaken belief that relationship is about getting your needs met and are also undesirable because we use them to justify judgment and blame instead of working toward unconditional love. Relationship of any kind flourishes when we stop controlling and pointing the finger at the other and take responsibility for our own unresolved issues.
At a talk I gave recently, one young woman became very agitated when I made a similar statement about the drawbacks of relying on strict rules to keep a relationship together. "What is to prevent an elderly man from dumping his disabled wife," she wanted to know? "His internal sense of love and integrity," I said. Rules may be necessary for those whose inner morality is compromised and need external constraints to keep them in line, but the reality is that Love comes and goes as it pleases and is not subject to contracts, rules, and agreements.
Deborah Anapol, Ph.D. is the author of Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits and Compersion: Using Jealousy as a Path to Unconditional Love. You can contact her at 415/507-1739 or visit http://www.lovewithoutlimits.com.