Love is always a journey towards oneness, toward unity. ? Because the use of the word Love is so pervasive in Hollywood, psychology and everyday use, it is used in many cases in contexts which does not imply this. 

? For instance, here is one phrase which has entered into the standard cultural catch phrases:

You cannot love another more than you love yourself.

While true, this implies of course there is a distinction between loving yourself and loving another. ? There is no difference. ? Loving yourself is loving another, and loving another is loving yourself. ? To perceive otherwise would be to enforce separation where there in actuality is none. ? There is a vast web of interconnection between everyone and everything on this planet, and what affects one spins out to affect us all. ? Every action you take, whether it is to yourself or others, creates ripples throughout yourself, your friends, your community, and the world. ? Looking deeply at the vast power and scope of this interconnectedness, the ultimate truth is simply that you are the world. ? Loving yourself is loving the world, and loving the world is loving yourself.

This may seem idealistic and ungrounded to some. ? To help the explanation so you understand this interconnection in a more practical way, let’s look at a relationship pattern that has been very common in this culture, with manifestations in both genders:

A man decides he is in love with a woman and wants to build a future together. ? Wanting to demonstrate this, he showers her with gifts and wants to spend every waking moment outside of work with her. ? He makes her wishes ultra-important and always makes sure to do whatever it is she wants, putting aside his own desires. ? He has decided love is to be expressed through sacrifice. ? To pay the extra bills, he keeps at a job he doesn’t like much, and gives up dreams he has of alternate careers. ? While this feels very flattering at first, after some time the woman feels this sacrifice like a weight on her shoulders. ? He has given up large aspects of himself, which cannot help but create both a void in him that he hopes to fill via the woman and unspoken expectations that influence all interactions in the relationship. ? After a time this accumulates into frustrations and arguments. ? He has disconnected aspects of himself and assumed this is an action based in love. ? In essence, he has tried to find Love through not loving himself, and then discovers the expression of this lack of unity from the voice of his partner.

Showing the other side of the spectrum, many “selfless” people initiate all of their actions from a very “selfish” perspective – albeit with a grander awareness that encompasses this interconnection. ? Gandhi once spoke that he was the most selfish being on the planet. ? He performed every single action solely for himself. ? He thus did not get tired of living his ‘selfless’ life, because it was a continual reinforcement based in love of Self.

If you recall moments of love between you and someone else, even experiences with a pet, these are moments where truly their needs and desires meld and coexist with your own as equal partners. ? The other’s desires becomes your own. ? There is oneness and unity. ? There is no sacrifice of your own desires in this state, for your desires are as important to the other as their own, and vice versa. ? Experiences in this state are often called “higher”, where time stands still, colors seem brighter and a grand feeling of aliveness pervades every moment. ? However it is not truly “higher”, but simply underlying every moment, waiting for you to knock.

Love in hand

To help with this experience, here is an exercise:

Sit across from a partner and breathe calmly and deeply together as you look into each other’s eyes. ? Imagine yourself in a vast plain of grass and forests drenched in comforting sunlight, with all the space around you that you can possibly imagine. ? Now bring every aspect of yourself to this place. ? This includes all of your desires, your dreams, your frustrations, and even your defenses. ? Let them take up all the room they could ever need without any expectation of change. ? Your partner can do the same in their own mind. ? Breathe deeply for a minute until this feels like a completely natural self-perpetuating state.

Now bring your partner into this place, which includes inviting all aspects of them into your space. ? Invite their desires, their dreams, their frustrations, and yes, even their defenses. ? Give them as much space as they could ever need. ? Now allow both of you to interact in this space without trying to do anything. ? Let your desires interact with theirs without conflict. ? Even your defenses can interact. ? Give it time and space.

With complete permission there is an encompassing transformation that occurs naturally, without effort. ? There is no sacrifice, only expansion that comes from allowing a greater world you’re your own. ? Because their desires are as important as your own, the interaction helps you understand your own desires more clearly, and even grow towards grander dreams. ? Oneness helps you move towards clarity with your own identity, rather than making you give it up.

Note that this exercise can be done alone with the Self, for we all have conflicting aspects of ourselves that desire different things. ? These have sometimes be called “subpersonalities”, or separated aspects of Self that have different identities, albeit in milder forms than what is seen with true multiple personalities. ? If you are alone, you can stare into a mirror and bring conflicting aspects of yourself together into this vast open field of sunlight in exactly the same way as described above. ? Allowing all aspects of yourself to operate from a space of unity will of course create ripples in all the relationships in your life, inviting others to do the same. ? Loving yourself is indeed loving the world.