What is "love" to you personally? According to Richard Bach Love is the most mangled word aside from God, and I must say I have to agree with him! Both words should be a signpost to something that in reality cannot be explained by words, but the words now are cheap and nasty, thrown around so often without thought that they mean nothing compared to what they COULD mean!
I guess that has a lot to do with us being such a verbal species doesn't it... we have to be able to explain something to someone else, and if they don't get what we mean, if their level of understanding is not equal to our own, we have to dilute what we want to say until they can grasp the concept at least enough to participate in what we are talking about. We also learn to say without feeling... how often do we say "I love you" to someone or something and not FEEL what we say? We pay lip service only. I've noticed this a lot when talking to animals about how their owners feel about them. The owner could say it 10 times a day, but if it is lip service only what is it the animal "hears"? Nothing! FEEL it and let them hear it through that energy.
The word love now has 3 very different levels of meaning, the first two based very much in the realm of ego... the love of the lovable, love of something because you get something from that, and lastly the Unconditional Love, worthy of it's very own capital letters!
on page 3 of 17 on one site I went to and searched "love quotes" I finally found something talking about more than an egoic love and it's by my beloved Rumi the sufi poet...
"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" - Rumi
And there lies a huge truth and even more, and more again hidden in the layers you could stip away of that one sentence.
Ego has constructed many barriers against Love, for the Unconditional Love denies ego of it's sense of self. That Love is infinite and eternal and that Love is WHAT WE ARE! Don't seek it outside of yourself, don't seek it in someone else, just remove the barriers of your ego, remove your fears, your doubts, remove your thoughts that say anything but, shut the ego up and FEEL it for yourself. That Love that allows everything to simply BE as it is, that Love that expects nothing, demands nothing, doesn't judge and doesn't label. Can you do that? To anything? Can you Love yourself like that? Do you place expectations on yourself and others? Then it's not unconditional is it...
Do you love beautiful things? Or do you Love things and they are then beautiful in the light of that Love?
Do you love another person because their love for you gives you value? Or do you Love yourself, perceived flaws and all and then have the freedom to extend that Love to another?
Do you put conditions on your love? I will love you if.... I will love you because... Find something innocent, find something pure, a new born baby, a puppy, a flower open to the sun, a bird in flight, just look at it, feel the awe, feel the joy, feel the Love, there is no "I love you because..." there is only I Love you. In things of innocence, in pure things, the Love that is manifested in form, that is in everything we see or touch is mirrored back so perfectly. If you quiet the mind, remove all labels it wants to put on things, you will feel it ripple through your heart and soul, you will feel it disturb the mind, for a split second you will be lost for words, there you have touched the Love that is already within you. There in that moment you have rediscovered the Love that is your birth right, the Love that is your greatest gift to yourself and the world.
You have that Love already, you don't need to seek it, you ARE that Love already, you just need to learn to recognise it again, in yourself, in others, in 'things'. Everything is perfect just as it is, nothing needs to be changed or added. Nothing needs to be altered or adjusted, whatever it is you are perceiving IS that Love already, that perfect, omnipotent Love. It will be that whether you love it or not, whether it satisfies your expectations or not. It IS that Love already, not judged, complete, unconditional, as are you...
How do you truly explain the lack of demand this Love has, how can you truly explain the freedom finding this Love gives you? So hard, and so the word is already mangled and mutilated, but the truth of it is there no matter what.
You ARE unconditional Love, whether you feel it or recognise it or not. Do not seek it, it's like looking everywhere but at a mirror to find yourself, but learn to still the judgmental mind, learn to quiet the ego and rediscover that Real Love for yourself! Live in that Love and allow yourself to be a mirror that others are able to look at and are able to feel 'special', whole, invaluable and perfect just as they are.
I sought you, My Love, for many years, despairing of ever finding you.
I sought you in many lands, knowing you had to be somewhere.
I sought you in many faces, praying I would recognise you.
I sought you, My Love, because I knew you were my One and only.
I sought you because I needed your Love.
I sought you because I knew only you could save me.
I confess I became disillusioned after time
I confess I became disenchanted as I toiled through deserts
I confess I became disheartened when the faces I looked into were empty of you
I confess I became discouraged and vowed to seek you no more in despair.
It was then, when I stopped looking, I found you.
It was then, when I was still that I saw you.
It was then, when I was quiet that I heard you.
It was then, when I had no expectations that I felt your Love.
Now I know My Love
Now I know your name
Now I know your face
Now I know I Am in Love.
"Throughout our lives we long to love ourselves more deeply and to feel connected with others. Instead, we often contract, fear intimacy, and suffer a bewildering sense of separation. We crave love, and yet we are lonely. Our delusion of being separate from one another, of being apart from all that is around us, gives rise to all of this pain."
~ Sharon Salzberg