Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.
Last week I wrote a list of 10 things you probably shouldn't say to a friend who doesn't have children. It was quite an experience. People responded, to say the least.
One of the ways in which people responded was by talking to me about it. As a result of one of those conversations I realised that one of the items on the list is probably the most important of all. It's also the item that bothers me least, these days.
What used to bother me the most was the suggestion that the love between a parent and child was much deeper, wider and more profound than any other love. The inference was that if I was unable (or unwilling for any reason) to have children then I would never experience true, deep love.
This no longer bothers me. It can still be pretty hurtful to others, though, so I still suggest you might want to think twice before launching into your rant about how only having a baby has taught you what true love is.
It no longer bothers me because now, finally, I understand that the fullest, deepest love already resides within me. If I don't experience this love for all beings all the time it is simply (ha!) because of the barriers and obstacles that I've erected around my heart, because of the way I contract and withdraw my heart in fear or shame or blame or guilt.
I'd suggest that babies have a special gift for getting us to lower those barriers. It may be their inherent vulnerability or it may be because they haven't yet put up any barriers around their own hearts, which is the same thing. But one way or another babies invite us to let down our barriers. This is particularly but not, in my experience, exclusively true of our own babies, whether by birth or otherwise.
So we let down our barriers. We engage with these marvelous little beings in moments free of fear, blame, guilt or expectation. As our hearts open we experience our own true nature, which is love, joy, equanimity and compassion. We then attribute this experience to the other being. We assume it is this wonderful baby that causes this love to arise in us (I've done the same with lovers). When, in fact, it was all within us all along.
So now when people tell me that since they have had their baby they have come to know what love really is, instead of feeling cheated I feel joy. I feel joy that another being has opened their heart. I know now that there are other paths towards an open heart. I've come to understand that although a baby may be one of the best short-cuts around, ultimately we can all learn to open our hearts irrespective of the company we are keeping. It's not easy but it is simple.
It starts with sitting still and making friends with your own mind and heart.
It's another way to change the world.