Sometimes we mistrust our instincts so much that we can only like ourselves to the extent that others esteem us. Sometimes we’re so afraid of our hidden emotions that we try to escape through intellectualizations or addictions that divert our attention. Sometimes we shield ourselves by conforming to the letter of the law, or by letting conventional wisdom be our guide, thereby allowing others to define reality for us. And sometimes, because we do not recognize our own deeply submerged beauty, we go to great extremes to manufacture surface beauty or become unhealthily attached to people who personify the beauty we believe we lack.
These behaviors are symptomatic of an unawakened Beloved. Insofar as she personifies the instincts, feelings, values and emotions we have forgotten, disowned, or not permitted ourselves to experience, awakening her is the last thing many egos want to do. Unfortunately, our shadows are powerful obstacles that prevent us from taking the heroic journey. As long as we ignore them to protect ourselves from pain we will remain separated from our true destinies: becoming the powerful and fulfilled individuals we were created to be.
It’s no wonder our poor ego is afraid. As the sleeping repository of unacknowledged feeling, the unawakened Beloved contains all the rage, resentment, and hatred we repress when we are abused or devalued; all the sadness, self-pity, self-hatred, grief, loneliness, and despair we try to ignore when we are rejected or abandoned; all the fear, dread, and terror of everything unknown and potentially harmful; all the pain and conflict we want to avoid; all the attraction to forbidden fruit we want to deny; all the contempt and revulsion, shame, humiliation, and remorse we would rather forget.
What our Lover needs to learn is that accepting and forgiving our true selves is the key to experiencing all the love and acceptance, kindness and compassion, friendliness and trust, forgiveness and devotion we have the potential to feel. Choosing to face and feel our fear and pain brings the joy and happiness, amusement, delight, bliss, sensual pleasure, rapture, and ecstasy for which we yearn. As the fairy tales tell us, when the Lover courageously persists in seeking the Beloved and awakens her with a kiss, the two can finally unite in a healing marriage characterized by deep intimacy, affection, and honesty.
Above all, this union is characterized by love, the great healing power in the universe. I do not mean intellectualized love, where we say loving words without having benevolent feelings. Nor am I talking about that condition of lust and infatuation we call “being in love” in which we project our inner Beloved onto another and think we must physically have that other or die. And I don’t mean the sentimental love that causes us to cry at the thought of animal cruelty or starving children “over there” when we can’t feel compassion for our own hunger, pain and suffering “in here.”
This love is active, not passive. It is a real passion for nurturing the psychological and spiritual development of ourselves as much as others. Most of all, it is an emotional and physical reality, not just an intellectual ideal. One who truly loves and knows s/he is loved learns to love from the heart and body, not just the head and mind. To love this way involves our breath, guts, hands, energy, the very cells out of which we are made.
What parts of yourself and your life do you love this way? What parts do you find impossible to love? Can you imagine loving these too?
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The end-goal of every psyche is to become more conscious and self-aware. You were made to want oneness, a doable antidote to the divisiveness that plagues today’s world. Self-awareness — by which I mean the acceptance of the opposites within ourselves — when combined with a sincere desire to bridge the divides between them, is the bridge to consciousness. And consciousness is the bridge to psychological and spiritual oneness. Your purpose in life is to do whatever you can to build these bridges. You’ll never be happy if you don’t at least try.