Love & the smaller and LARGER Self


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Mindfulness-meditation-002
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“Mindfulness is basically just a particular way of paying attention. It is a way of looking deeply into oneself in the spirit of self-inquiry and self-understanding.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Full Catastrophe Living,” pg. 12

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[W]hat is relationship generally based on?—apart from the emotional screen which we throw up against each other, what is it based upon?

.On mutual gratification, is it not? If I do not please you, if you find me in some way aversive or unappealing, you get rid of me. If I please you, if you want something from me, if I make you feel good, then you accept me either as your wife or as your neighbour or as your friend.

That is the actual fact.

So relationship is sought where there is mutual satisfaction, gratification. And when you do not find that satisfaction you change the relationship—either you divorce, or you remain together but seek gratification elsewhere, or else you move from one relationship to another till you find what you seek, which is satisfaction, gratification a sense of self-protection and comfort, and so on.

We talk about love, we talk about responsibility, duty, and so on, but really there is no love in a relationship when it is based on gratification. If we look closely at the way we treat our wives, children, neighbours, friends, it shows this; it shows that in our relationships there really is no love at all, they are merely mutual gratification pacts (which is why our relationships are so disposable and interchangeable).

And when this is so, what then is the purpose of relationship? What is its ultimate significance?

Relationship has very little significance when we are merely seeking mutual gratification.

But relationship becomes extraordinarily significant when it is a means of self-revelation and self-knowledge.

Does not my contact with you reveal my own state of being if I am aware, if I am honest with myself, if I am alert enough to be conscious of my own actions and reactions and motivations in a relationship? Relationship really can be a process of self-revelation which is a process of self-knowledge—if I can accept what I see of myself and not run. Because in that self-revelation which is relationship, there will be many unpleasant things—many disquieting, uncomfortable thoughts and activities and tendencies—that I will find out about myself. And because I do not like what I am discovering about myself I will be quick to run away from a relationship, because none of this will be pleasant to a relationship which is supposed to be pleasant, easy, comfortable, gratifying, and make me feel good, fulfilled, accepted, secure.

Relationship is self-revelation. And it is because we do not want to be revealed to ourselves that we run away and hide in comfort. And whenever we do this relationship loses its extraordinary depth, significance and beauty. There can be true relationship only when there is love, but love is not the search for gratification. Love exists only when there is self forgetfulness, when there is complete communion, not between one or two, but communion with the highest, and that can only take place when the self is forgotten.

 – Jiddu Krishnamurti (this is my abridgement and adaptation and elaboration from his “The Observer is the Observed,” Madras, India, public talk; December 7, 1947; http://www.jiddu-krishnamurti.net/en/1945-1948-observer-is-observed/krishnamurti-the-observer-is-the-observed-47-12-07; and the parenthetical above is mine as well)

Yes, real Love—mature Love—is not the search for solace, comfort, gratification; it’s not the search for titillation or excitement. Real Love exists only when there is forgetfulness of this smaller self, when that part of us that lacks perspective, that spins out, is skittish, easily frightened, anxious, avoidant, self-deceptive, that part of us that wants comfort, gratification, safety, security, and to avoid challenges and difficulties—in short, what’s worst and or what’s weakest in us—is forgotten—or at least kept in check.

Real Love can exist only—only—when there is communion or real contact between what is best in two people—their consciences, the depths of their heart and their minds—their soul, their higher self—the part of each that desires to grow and become more truthful, objective, real, honest, healthy.

Real love cannot be based on contact between two people’s smaller selves, because smaller selves cannot “commune,” they can only temporarily fuse and glom onto each other and use and rob and steal from each other and then hide and run and or spin out. The contact between the smaller selves of two people is infatuation, fusion, intoxication, self-medication; it’s not real love or even real contact; it’s love that is a feeling, and thus it’s not even love at all.

“There is no pain equal to that which two lovers can inflict on one another. This should be made clear to all who contemplate such a union. The avoidance of this pain is the beginning of wisdom, for it is strong enough to contaminate the rest of our lives. ” Cyril Connolly

Communion is only possible between the highest parts of each of us, between what’s best in us—that part of each of us that is self-aware, honest, courageous, resilient, open, transparent, conscientious, that has perspective, that can put itself in another’s shoes and that can seek first to understand (to become more aware). “Love is what’s left in a relationship after *all* the selfishness has been removed” (Cullen Hightower)—or at least a good portion of the selfishness. The less the selfishness and pettiness and using/exploiting, the more “space” that is created for Love to enter in and inhabit. Put another way, love is what’s left in a relationship after the smaller self and all its—which is to say our—fears, pettiness, discursiveness, erraticness, avoidance have been removed or at least kept in check.

This is the true inner work of love—accurately identifying and overcoming or managing (keeping in check) the weaker, unhealthy, smaller parts of ourselves; all of which requires a tremendous amount of sensitivity and awareness (mindfulness) and self-honesty.

This is the work that each of us must do if we are to become more loving. The extent to which we refuse or neglect to do this work, is the same extent to which we limit, even cripple—even pollute and make toxic—our “love” and our capacity to love.

(And how can mindfulness be applied to this article/blog post and the reading of it? It would mean being aware of or witnessing our own reactions as we read—paying attention to what we agree with or to what irks us or sets us off and, just as importantly, why—trying to get to the bottom of our own reactions, trying to step back and really listen [as objectively and or fairly as possible] to what we’re actually saying to ourselves and why—what the payoff is that is in it for us. That’s mindfulness in action; that’s the “examined” life; that’s self-knowledge and self-revelation occurring in real time or near real time.)
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(This has been my updating of a blog post I originally published August 7, 2011.)
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About John

I am a married, 46-year old, Midwesterner, with four children. My primary interest is in leading a very examined and decent and Loving life; my interests that are related to this and that feed into this include (and are not limited to) -- psychology, philosophy, poetry, critical thinking, photography, soccer, tennis, chess, bridge.
This entry was posted in Conscience, Conscious Love, Intimate Relationships, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Krishnamurti, Mental Health, Truth, Waking Up, What is Love? and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Love & the smaller and LARGER Self

  1. granbee says:

    “Love exists only when there is self forgetfulness, when there is complete communion, not between one or two, but communion with the highest, and that can only take place when the self is forgotten.” For me, this is the very crux of the true foundation for real love between two life partners, two soulmates!

  2. eheadress says:

    What happens when one person is being destructive?To themselves to the family relationships. Or just ignoring the rest of the family? Do you just carry on hoping ‘real love’ will heal everything?

    • John says:

      Thank you for reading & commenting. And can you be a bit more specific in what you’re asking?

      Thanks!

      John

      • eheadress says:

        When a partner is simply not participating emotionally in a relationship is it not time to move on? How much time can you give an relationship? Who is to say when you declared love or got married that it was a genuine commitment by both people? If you find that after years of being with someone you are still miscommunicating to the point where your emotional needs are just being ignored, why should you stay together?

        • John says:

          All difficult things to get a sense of from a paragraph. If I could have one superpower, it would be to be able to see things from a completely objective and birdseye perspective while also knowing what people are really thinking and what they’re saying to themselves. And that’s what I’m thinking when I read your comments–I’m wondering what would your partner say about you as well? What would his or her complaints be? It could be a case that you’re trying your best and that your partner isn’t; that does happen. It happened to me in my last significant relationship–I shouwed up for it and tried, she didn’t; she did just enough to get by as long it suited her, and when it didn’t suit her, she’d bail. What would an objective 3rd party see in that situation?–I think they’d see that I had a very fair and objective and truthful view of things. My ex- has a very distinct pattern in her life and her past relationships–it’s a BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) pattern–high instabilility, leave another before he leaves her, an on again off again pattern to her relationships–when she needs love, affection, sex, she becomes a seductress and says whatever a guy wants to hear; and then when she has the guy and her needs are filled, she loses interest, gets bored, or he says something that she takes the wrong way and she devalues him, gets angry, resentful, et cetera.

          So that is my question to you, eheadress: can you speak objectively about your relationship and the dynamics in it? What would your partner’s side of the story be?

          Thank you for reading and for commenting

          Kindest regards,

          John

        • I agree. Why continue in a relationship where the other person is simply not available or willing to listen? Walk away.. or better still, run…

          • John says:

            Thank you for reading and commenting, Linus.

            And that’s the question of questions, is it not? — How to deal with the other person when he or she is not being very loving?

            What does our smaller self say or advise about this?

            What does our larger self say or advise about this?

            For me, my larger self is the part of me that pauses and really asks and considers questions like: WWJD in this situation? And what would Buddha do in this situation? And what would Gandhi and Schwietzer and The Dalai Lama and Martin Luther King Jr and Socrates and Krishnamurti do and or advise in this situation?

            Consulting those opinions and considering what they might say or advise adds some clarity and perspective other than if I had only consulted myself and my gut.

            Krishnamurti’s words that I quoted above are difficult–

            “[W]hat is relationship generally based on?—apart from the emotional screen which we throw up against each other, what is it based upon? On mutual gratification, is it not? If I do not please you, if you find me in some way aversive or unappealing, you get rid of me. If I please you, if you want something from me, if I make you feel good, then you accept me either as your wife or as your neighbour or as your friend. That is the actual fact. So relationship is sought where there is mutual satisfaction, gratification. And when you do not find that satisfaction you change the relationship—either you divorce, or you remain together but seek gratification elsewhere, or else you move from one relationship to another till you find what you seek, which is satisfaction, gratification a sense of self-protection and comfort, and so on. We talk about love, we talk about responsibility, duty, and so on, but really there is no love in a relationship when it is based on gratification. If we look closely at the way we treat our wives, children, neighbours, friends, it shows this; it shows that in our relationships there really is no love at all, they are merely mutual gratification pacts (which is why our relationships are so disposable and interchangeable). . . . Relationship has very little significance when we are merely seeking mutual gratification.”

            And the Buddha purportedly said–“In this world, hate never dispelled hate. Only love dispels hate. This is the law, ancient and inexhaustible. You too shall pass away. Knowing this, how can you quarrel?”

            Unless a relationship is clearly abusive (as opposed to what Schnarch describes with his colorful phrase “Normal Marital Sadism” and which is what Cyril Connolly seems to be describing as well), then earning your way out of it by trying to first be the change you wish to see in the relationship (https://realtruelove.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/how-to-fall-in-love-again-2/), is the only way to go, in my opinion.

            Thanks for reading and for commenting, Linus.

            Merry Christmas to you and yours!

            John

            • Frankly speaking, I think you’re speaking from the perspective of already being in a relationship for some time.. I’m referring to the start.. Why waste time when you know you’re getting nowhere?

              • John says:

                Agreed. Good and wise distinction, Linus. Thank you for that.

                As Nietzsche wrote: “Marriage as a long conversation. When marrying, one should ask oneself this question: Do you believe that you will be able to converse well with this woman into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory, but the most time during the association belongs to conversation.”

                Talking well (and meaningfully), listen well, growing in understanding and depth and wisdom, these are crucial for the success and fulfilling-ness of a relationship.

  3. Pingback: What Are Your Relationships Based On?—Mutual Gratification or Are They Processes of Self-Revelation? | What Is Real True Love?

  4. Pingback: What Are Your Relationships Based On? | What Is Real True Love?

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