This essay is shared by Graham Harris
In my life I have known only three people who give unconditional positive regard all the time. All Indian, and all part of an organisation called the Brahma Kumaris. I realise that when I am in their company I feel special. I can feel the unconditionality. I feel they are focussed only on me and our conversation and nothing I can say or do will change their acceptance of me.
The more I think about it, the more I realise that we all have the ability and show the skills of giving unconditional love. When we are totally immersed in a relationship with another we find the words that we use appear automatically and are very accurate. We feel a closeness which is natural and doesn’t come for any particular reason. Sometimes we can get this feeling when in a group. The atmosphere of the group is soft, inviting, accepting. There is no need to talk, the feelings say it all. This is the time when we are really giving and receiving unconditional love. There are no conditions that stop us. But do I have to give? Can I just be unconditional love? My experience is both; I have to accept and make the effort to find my state of unconditionality to and for myself and then through the behaviour and the feelings I emit I say, ‘I accept you as you are’. In other words, for me, unconditionality is an approach to life. It is not something that can be switched on and off in a professional setting. It is a way of running your life. If you work hard on yourself and get this bit right then all the other pieces naturally follow.
Another way of looking at it is: when I am exhibiting unconditional love I am totally egoless, the ‘I’ has disappeared. When ‘I’ is used it is often used in the form of arrogance. What ‘I’ did, what ‘I’ understood, implying ‘I’ alone am right. This has the result of making us weak. Making us forget the other person, being totally focussed on self. Alternatively when I am totally focussed on the needs of the other person or task in hand the thought of ‘I’ and what I want and need takes second place. A good test to the depth of our focus is when someone challenges us or is disrespectful in some form or other. What is your reaction? Do you immediately feel insulted or hurt? It is not what we think but what we feel. Many of us have learned how to keep our face straight when delivered an unpleasant or unacceptable comment or experience, but what happens inside? It is our feelings that get transmitted to others so being totally unconditional means not to react in any way whatsoever. Without a trace of feeling as well as thought.
Unconditional love appears to be the ability to let go of the ‘I’ to become egoless and focus on the moment. It appears subtly to take us into the now and focus on the now. It also appears to take us to that place of who am I really? The point is it teaches us how to move out of our heads and into our feelings. This begs the question: is it possible to maintain unconditional love if you think all the time, if you like to analyse and break down the minutiae, i.e if you live in your head?
If the aim is to be at one with the other people and to be focussed in the now. Surely, this can only take place when we are in the feeling mode rather than thinking mode. If this is so then unconditionality is the focus from which all the other behaviours come. It is an approach to run our lives by not a way to ‘fix’ or change others.
Because to ‘fix’ must mean that I have a mindset that the person in front of me is ‘ill’ or not ‘right’ and needs to be repaired in some way. Therefore suggesting that there is a ‘proper or correct’ state. I am now being conditional. I have the condition that my role is to ‘repair’ another person. Most of us spend our lives in this model of conditionality. Everything we do is based on a condition. I love you as long as you are………. I will play with you if………I will take you on as a client if……. The question is, is it possible when we start from a stance of conditionality to move to unconditionality? I am beginning to think not. My experience with the three women in India is that they start from unconditionality and this enables me to get the feelings of not being assessed, of being loved and special and able to achieve whatever it is I want. I am allowed to be. They have no conditions, no expectations that they want to achieve. They accept me as I am and for what I am. Whereas I and I sense many others, accept others for what I can make them or what they can do for me.
Unconditionality is not only a way of successfully interacting with others it is a natural and successful way to live. It is a way of accessing the centre within me. The place where I can operate from my natural state. In order to be the best I can be I must meet and treat others with love. Each of us knows when we are receiving unconditional love, pure love. I know that I have experienced this state often when participating in self development groups. However, because of my inexperience and lack of understanding I interpreted the feelings of love through my emotions and made effort to analyse them, not understanding that unconditionality is beyond words. I was actually experiencing and learning how to use the power of pure love. The love that can be felt between two human beings that does not have any conditions. A love that doesn’t require words, that is so natural that everything is on automatic pilot we are naturally operating empathetically and congruently.
In my experience unconditionality is not possible without love but perhaps the question is: is love a condition of unconditionality or is unconditionality a condition of love?
The experience I received from the three women in India is like the foundations on which to build a house. They have given me an insight into the foundation on which to build my life. Perhaps they were just reminding me of the rules to successful living that I had forgotten. Unconditional love to all. As we pursue the attractiveness of conspicuous consumption and the need to ‘fix’ others we have lost the ability to be unconditional. We appear to have settled for the second best option of being conditional. We have found it so easy to work with conditionality that it has become second nature. The result being that unconditionality appears so alien and difficult. We have learned to prefer the rewards that analysis and intellectualisation bring rather than make the effort to focus on and find our true selves and build relationships based on unconditional love.
Whilst living away from the UK and revisiting my thoughts and feelings from this and other experiences I am left with the feeling that these women know something very special. They realise that if we hold the thought of unconditional love wonderful things can happen in our lives. If we approach our lives from the pace of unconditionality then we can really achieve something; we can get in touch with the real self. The fully functioning self, beyond materialism and behaviours.
Real success comes not by changing our behaviours from one stance to another but by acknowledging the very essence of our being. Making us aware of the need to change from conditional focussed behaviour to unconditional spiritual beings.
I just wonder!!!