In much romantic love, the picture of our brother that we see is one of contradictions. We both love and hate him, and the two concepts effectively cancel each other out. So we are left with nothing. We do not know whom we see in our brother any more than we know whom we see in ourselves. A Course in Miracles counsels that we will be given a picture to replace what we thought, an image of our brother that we will prefer over all our contradictory images. Even this is not all of him, for it is a perception, and it remains for perception to be translated into knowledge before we will ever see our brother truly. This final step remains in the future for all of us, because it is our translation into Heaven, a step taken at the end of our pathway by God himself.
The impetus for most romantic love, in the beginning at least, is that one sees in the other what she lacks within herself. The unholy alliance starts, then, from a wrong premise: that there is lack, and then goes on to a wrong conclusion, that one can “take” from the beloved what is lacking, making a whole out of two halves.
Even popular psychology recognizes that fallacy in such reasoning, but the reasoning itself does not see the light of day because its maker is “crazy in love.” Many popular treatises on romantic love enjoin that two halves do not make a whole, that one must be a whole person, seeking wholeness, to have anything akin to a lasting environment for love. Surely many successful loves look back on the beginning of their relationship as a time that grew fruitfully upon a happy present. The lovers were contented within themselves before finding love in another. Conversely, most people’s past is also strewn with the remains of wrecked relationships, of love gone wrong. For some, even for many in today’s climate, these relationships culminated in what promised to be an idyllic marriage, but turned out to be a little bit of hell on earth. All of these dynamics are addressed in A Course in Miracles’ view of the holy and the unholy relationship. (T-22.intro)
–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.
“Every loving thought that the Son of God ever had is eternal. The loving thoughts his mind perceives in this world are the world’s only reality. They are still perceptions, because he still believes that he is separate. Yet they are eternal because they are loving.” (ACIM, T-11.VII.2)
We have all heard platitudes about how important love is to our very existence, but this quotation does not mouth platitudes. We are told that our loving thoughts are eternal, that they are the world’s only reality. Yet as long as we think we are separate, we will be caught in a perceived world. Only when we move beyond perception to knowledge do we reach the reality that we long to find.
Love is God, and we are a part of God, and so we are love as well. While this does not mean that God is an emotion, it does mean something very close to the emotion of love that we understand as holy. It is very far, on the other hand, from the emotion of love that we thrust upon others whom we deem are special to ourselves.
Special love will not last, and for those of us first caught up in romantic love, we need to take heed. The special love that is the first bloom of romance must move forward into the holy love that sees that the perfection we envision is truly real. The perfection of our beloved is the only part of special love that is right and true. And the first bloom of special love does see this clearly.
I often think that talking of mature love sounds so deadly. We are told, in effect, to grow up and love more sanely. But real love is not needed as a test of sanity. The part of special love that is seeing perfection is seeing truly. And then we expand this perfection to a wide scope, and we extend this sight into the future, and then we have the holy love that is lasting.
“Love is the condition of your reality. In your human form your heart must beat for the life of your self to take place. This is the nature of your reality. Love is as essential to your being as the heart to the body.” (ACOL, C:1.3)
We need love. We all know this, but we also feel powerless, sometimes, to keep the loves in our life that we want. People come and go, and loves seem also to come and go.
A true understanding knows that the ones we have loved are never lost to us. That love that we felt is a part of eternity, and eternity means “lasting.” We don’t have to see, speak to, or write the person whom we once adored. He or she may have no part in our lives.
But the loves lives on, taking on a life of its own.
And this early love does not mitigate against later loves. Love, once present, expands the heart so that other love comes more easily, for the measure of our love is what it has done to us. We have changed internally by the very act of loving. And this loving lasts and lasts, making new and fresh incarnations along the way.
We don’t have to worry about being bereft of love. Our hearts simply need to be open to what God has for us. He never departs; he never allows us to feel alone for very long. He knows that we need other people, as we also need Him. And He will supply that need with every heartfelt cry.