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Love! Love Wholly And Unconditionally!

Yogi Cameron Alborzian book headshotI once read a story of a woman whose daughter was raped and murdered by someone.  The perpetrator was captured, convicted, and imprisoned straight away.  Many people in this woman’s situation would likely thirst for the perpetrator’s eternal suffering.  They would want to look into his eyes and tell him to go to hell so that he may experience pain every remaining day of his life.  If the perpetrator were convicted in a state that supported the death penalty, they would be in the front row of the audience as he received his lethal injection.

This woman did none of those things.  She did visit him in prison to look him in the eye, but not to tell him to go to hell, nor to wish for him to feel pain.

She visited him in prison to become his friend.

Stories like this one often inspire incredulous, even outraged reactions in others.  How could someone befriend the person who raped and killed her own child?  How could she want anything other than the most severe, bloodthirsty form of vengeance?  When someone does something that is hurtful to another, is it not best for them to be punished as much as the law will allow so that justice has been served?

The woman in the story sought out the practice of unconditional love.  This is the act of feeling connected to every living being and experiencing a state of supreme joy as a result of that connection—regardless of their actions.  We see them as a manifestation of the same spirit that created us, but while we may be living in relative balance, they are diseased in the body and mind.  They suffer.  And when someone experiences so much pain that they can’t even cope, they seek an outlet for that pain in the form of sharing their hurt.  They commit rape.  Or even murder.

As you might imagine, unconditional love is a difficult idea for many people to embrace.  It is a subject that we often discuss on my Facebook page.  When someone mentions how they feel slighted by someone in their life, they have a hard time warming up to the message that I invariably respond with: that they will serve themselves by allowing this other person to go forward in life without being punished or told off.  They think that would be letting them off the hook, or that it would make them victims of being bullied or taken advantage of.  One follower even admitted to thinking that I was “barking mad.”

But the purpose and practice of unconditional love is not for us to empower supposed wrongdoers to keep doing hurtful things, nor is it condoning the actions of those responsible for such behaviors.  When someone does something hurtful to us, seeking punishment, retribution, or vengeance is placing focus on the feelings of hurt.  It’s allowing the prejudices of our own mind to tell us that our happiness is worth less than our sense of justice.

Who, though, is to say what is truly just?  If legality were so infallible, then every country’s laws would be the same. Justice feeds the mind an illusionary relief, which disappears very quickly and leaves the person with a feeling of loss forever.

In contrast, unconditional love comes from the heart—not the mind.  Everyone heals and can move on with life, and in this way it isn’t limited to a transitory feeling. It is neither prejudiced nor exclusive, for it does not change with our thoughts.  While experiencing such a profound feeling of love—of feeling connected to every living being in the world—may be elusive and difficult to attain, there is no dispute among those who reach this level of mental freedom. It is more powerful, more fulfilling and more gratifying than the justice felt for the most graphic execution administered to the most hardened criminal of all time. With unconditional love, we no longer feel hurt.

When we live a life free of suffering—free of disease in the body and mind—we are able to love others regardless of what they do around us and even to us. We’re able to see their supposed wrongdoings as an indication that they, like we once did, suffer greatly.  And if we draw upon this love and provide our compassion, then perhaps they won’t suffer any longer.

We can only imagine what it must have been like to be the girl who was raped and murdered by that man in prison. The mother who visited the man responsible for these acts suffered a great deal at the loss of her daughter, and a man who could commit such acts did what he did because he suffered greatly as well.  But her repeated visits to the prison, her persistence, and her resolve broke down the barriers of this unlikely pairing and they did ultimately become friends.  She did this as a result of simple math: with vengeance and blood thirst, three people would have suffered.

But as two of them became friends through her unconditional love, only one of them did.

Have questions for me? Comments? Please feel free to leave them below.

Love,

Yogi Cameron

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Yogi Cameron is an Ayurvedic therapist and yoga master. Visit him via Facebook or Twitter page if you’d like to know more.  To download a FREE sample of his book The One Plan, visit yogicameron.com.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shannon-Nelson/699770283 Shannon Nelson

    This is a beautiful message, This is how I long to love. I know I’m far from perfect, but I am striving everyday to love unconditionally and through that desire I am finding an incredible joy and spiritual peace. Thank you for this piece of wisdom!

  • Aurora

    Wow such a lofty goal, not sure I could measure up – but then isn’t that thought/feeling judging and not loving myself unconditionally?! Such a paradox. Thanks for the deep thoughts.

  • meera

    thanks you that was an excellent clarification, nicely done

  • Linda

    Do you think it is selfish to want to confront the wrong doer and then love them? I mean if they think that you don’t know what they have done behind your back are you really loving them by befriending them and pretending you don’t even know what they have done?

  • http://beyouliveyourdream.blogspot.com/ Sarah Noel

    “When someone mentions how they feel slighted by someone in their life, they have a hard time warming up to the message that I invariably respond with: that they will serve themselves by allowing this other person to go forward in life without being punished or told off. They think that would be letting them off the hook, or that it would make them victims of being bullied or taken advantage of.”

    This is interesting to me. It’s interesting that someone could BE THAT LOVE. I know a lot of us strive to love that unconditionally and BE that loving… or at least we say we do, and we may in fact try at times. But all our actions are a choice. So how badly do we REALLY want to BE that love? Sometimes when you feel slighted or hurt in whatever way, it just plain feels good to “get back” at the other person in some form or fashion. Take driving, for a benign example. I know when I’ve been cut off or otherwise “mistreated” by another driver (at least in my eyes), I have, on more than one occasion, sought for ways to “reaffirm my place” in the flow of traffic. Or to try to “show them” how rude THEIR actions were. I could go into a whole list of specific examples, but I won’t. Driving is an easy one b/c we’re protected behind our cars and can easily drive away and don’t have to face the person directly, or ever see them again. Lol… this probably sounds like I have a case of road rage, and I admit to being that way in the past (and sometimes it rears its head every now and then), but I AM (really!) making an effort to be MORE loving and kind behind the wheel.

    But beyond the example of driving…. I’m honestly kind of torn. On one hand I can see that if you let someone “get away” with treating you a certain way or behaving a certain way, aren’t you affirming that action? Aren’t you saying it’s ok? This is actually something I’ve struggled with as long as I can remember. When to let things “slide” and when to speak up. When to tolerate and when to NOT tolerate, and either take action or walk away from the situation.

    I suppose the answer is to just BE LOVE. If the LOVING action is to walk away, and you feel so in your heart, then walk away. If the LOVING action is to speak up, speak out, or stand up for yourself or someone else, then do that. In love. But if the LOVING action feels like you need to just let it be, and let it go, then that’s what you do.

    Definitely stuff to ponder here. Thanks for this post and these thoughts!

    Sarah
    http://beyouliveyourdream.blogspot.com/2013/04/be-important-to-you.html

  • http://twitter.com/funfreeMe1 funfreeMe

    Your writing reminds me that I need to BE THE LOVE I SEEK, and that I also want to practice the kind of unconditional love you describe with how I treat myself. Thank you so much for your insights.
    Blessings!
    Dana
    funfreeMe.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000392107784 Anita Richards

    I am mindful that those who are the hardest to love are the ones who need love the most. What an amazingly inspiring story ~ because of my spiritual beliefs it also makes me wonder what past life connection/s the mother, daughter and perpetrator share.
    With much love, light and brightest blessings.

  • Lenna

    Does loving unconditionally preclude self-defense? If someone chose to attack me would resistance to that attack negate the premise of unconditional love? Thank you for your response. May the love and light of our Uni-verse continue to bathe you in its message. Blessed Be.

    • Karen

      Since loving and honoring ourselves is paramount so that we can love others, it would make sense that defending oneself from bodily harm is a given.
      Unconditional love would then be forgiving the other person for the attack, understanding that “they know not what they do”.

    • Willow Vetch

      Hi Lenna, I love your question and I had the same until recently when I heard a quote that “to defend is the first act of war” – intrigued I followed it up to discover the key was contained within the Quantum Physics Theory that everything is connected. Hence the ‘means’ and ‘end’ are ultimately connected no matter how remote to each other they may seem. So therefore; if you are attacked and choose to defend, and to defend is the first act of war, what you are doing is perpetuating more war. However if you change the ‘means’ subtlety to; if you were attacked you choose protection, then what you are doing is perpetuating more protection which ultimately leads to a completely different ‘end’ scenario. Well thats my underrstanding anyway – hope it helps! Love all round xx

  • jiggyboy420

    Way over my head. But you touched on alot of profound points.

  • jewels

    this reminds me of what i learned from my mother after her death. she married a man who sexually abused her children from a previous relationship and his own children with her and other people around them, he was a deeply wounded man who later asked forgiveness and they both found solace in Christian beliefs. while i do not share their religion, i remained angry at my mother for her forgiveness and love for my father, who surely did not ‘deserve’ her love, commitment and dedication to him, she repeatedly chose him over her children. what i did see after she died and i grieved her gentle love in my life and my children’s lives is that she loved him because he was so unloveable and she knew that her children had love from others and each other so we didn’t need her like he did. i was awed by her unconditional love and it has enriched my life in her example. instead of reacting with revenge and hatred when those i love hurt me, i try to love them through it. this hasn’t been easy, and at first it made me even more angry with her, but i saw that she really lived LOVE.

  • sophia

    Are you sure that the woman sought out the practice of unconditional love? Or is that your observation/assumption.

    This entire article is hard to digest. “We can only imagine what it must have been like to be the girl who was raped and murdered by that man in prison.” No – You can’t.

    A life free from suffering would be ideal but for many who are confronted with (for example) abuse, rape or enslavement – suffering is a daily battle that cannot necessarily be ‘won’ by embracing unconditional love towards their rapist or captor to deal with their physical and mental imprisonment.

    “When we live free of suffering….we are able to love other regardless of what they do around us and even to us.” I am so utterly confused about this line. Maybe the entire article is throwing me off because I cannot fathom a mother befriending the rapist and murderer of her daughter…

    sorry guys… this wasn’t a daily dose of love for me. It actually confused me and made me feel really vulnerable as to how these situations where handled in my own life. Would I be the one to be sitting in that front row or tell this guy to go to hell – no. Would I befriend him – no. Does either of these choices mean I am incapable of being unconditional love?

  • http://twitter.com/yogicameron Yogi Cameron

    Thanks all for your comments. And yes, unconditional love can be a challenging idea to embrace–especially when we’re struggling with specific people in our lives. What the work ultimately comes down to is our intentions. If someone physically attacks us, do we let them? Do we defend ourselves? An act of suffering would be to parry someone’s attack and then eliminate the threat by attempting to harm them in turn (“take that!”). But an act of love would be to avoid their attack and neutralize the threat by disabling them without bringing them any harm so that they can see that their aggression is all in their own mind. In life, we love unconditionally when we see another person’s suffering and look at it as an opportunity to connect with them in any way that will help see them out of it.