The topic of spiritual practices is by guest author, Pranada Comtois. Her book, Wise-Love: Bhakti and the Search for the Soul of Consciousness is newly published.
We are driven for love and by love. We must feel loved to feel whole. But do you feel lovable or loved? Sometimes? All the time? Almost never?
You may have a life companion, family, and friends and not feel loved or worthy of love. Or you may be a loner without significant relationships but feel lovable and loved.
Loving relationships can go a long way in confirming our worth, countering negative self-talk, and making us feel lovable. But they aren’t what make us feel lovable. If we don’t love ourselves – truly, deeply, fully, and with clarity – we won’t feel loved.
Even if we surround ourselves with a community of loving people we may still feel unworthy of love. After all, those who purportedly love us can make us feel unloved or unlovable. Their style of relating to us, as well as their own needs and shortcomings, combined with our misperceptions and misconceptions, can create untenable situations.
Neither can our inner lack of love be resolved by affirmations, creative visualizations, mindfulness, or meditation. We can look ourselves in the mirror in the morning and repeat, “I love you. You’re worthy of love” and still feel unlovable. That’s because we often miss the distinction between mundane love of the false self and divine love of the genuine self.
Only in realizing my real self can I experience real love because I’m not the body, mind, or emotions — or the illusory identities associated with this temporary frame I inhabit. Love of the body-mind won’t make me feel whole and satisfied. I require love for myself as a spiritual being.
And how can I love our self unless I know myself?
But, not all practices simultaneously endow us with self-love. This is the promise of bhakti’s divine love or wise love.
As a spark of spirit, a unit of consciousness, we are a most beloved subject of love. We must be loved to be whole, and we are givers-lovers. Feeling unlovable or unloved is only an imagined state of mind without truth in reality. When we wake to our eternal self we awaken to our enduring nature as lovers who are supremely lovable.
The ancient Bhagavata, the sequel to the Bhagavad Gita, says, “Sometimes we suffer because we see a tiger in a dream or a snake in a vision, but actually there is neither a tiger nor a snake. Thus we create some situations in a subtle form and suffer the consequences. These sufferings cannot be mitigated unless we are awakened from our dream.” (Bhag. 4.29.35)
When we awaken and see the self, we naturally see the Source from where we are generated, just as when I see a spark of fire, I will also see the fire source. As a spark of our Divine Other, our nature reflects his. As he is a lover, we are lovers. As he is lovable, we are lovable. We don’t need the confirmation of the world, or current relationships, to validate the existential truth of our lovability; we experience it when we awaken to the self.
And more, just as our Divine Other cannot be moved by conditional love, the love of this world cannot fill us. We must have the most exalted, pure love, or wise love: the unconditional love the self knows for itself and its Source.
We easily progress in the art of self-awakening by bhakti’s simple method of hearing about and chanting about our Divine Friend. In kirtan or japa (solitary chanting with prayer beads), we can chant the sacred great mantra, the maha-mantra Hare Krishna.
Kirtan is the beginning of an amazing journey to the self and wise love. By associating with our Infallible Lover, our infallible lovability is reflected, and our love is fully reciprocated. The magic of bhakti reveals the lover and her lovability, the Beloved, and their mutual wise love. Even the beginning experiences of this relationship can alleviate, forever, our feelings of being unloved or unlovable.
Pranada Comtois is a devoted pilgrim and teacher. Her writing sheds light on bhakti’s wisdom school of heartfulness. She shares her love for spiritual practices with a focus on how to culture wise-love in our lives and relationships. She hopes others can experience the inherent, unbounded joy of the self. The wisdom of her teaching and spiritual practices grows from living 20 years as a contemplative in bhakti ashrams.
For more on Bhakti, click on the Kirtan & Bhakti button at The Namaste Counsel archives.