What is love?

Romantic love is often depicted in moves as a beautiful fairy tale. After many years of lonely nights and bad relationships, finally the beautiful girl finds her ‘soul mate’, who is perfect and special and loves her unconditionally. These stories promise a happy, fulfilling life, where love conquers all. But is this our everyday experience in our relationships?

118“I want you to love me. I need your love. I need you to accept me as I am.” This is what we think what we need. But these words can be translated into these: “I need you to reflect back a positive self-image to fill the hole in me. I need you to accept in me what I cannot accept.”

Relationships are mirrors. They mirror back our ‘selves’. Relationships reflect back our self-image. I am looking in others that seems to be missing in ‘me’.

The feeling that something is lacking is part of the life of almost all humans. We lack love. We lack acceptance. Therefore, we are constantly searching outside, seeking approval to fill the lack and to be complete and whole.

When ‘you’ and ‘me’ fall in love, it seems that we love each other. But actually, I love the story of ‘you’ I have about you, and similarly, you just love your story about ‘me’. We only love the images we have of each other. So we have an unwritten pact that we mutually fortify each others’ self-image; and if you dare to break these rules, I either try to carve you to fit into the image I have of you so I can feel loved again, or I withdraw my love because you have diminished my already frail self-image. The pact is about inflation, not about deflation.

My love is conditional. I love you only when you make me feel happy, whole and secure. My love can easily turn into hatred if you stop fulfilling your designated role. So, I need you to change in order to feel happy again… This is what we normally call love.

But can love be conditional? Is it really love or just a form of attachment? Of course, this is one of last things the ‘egoic mind’ wants to hear, because it shakes its illusory foundation.

Is love an emotion at all, or a state of being?
Can any state be permanent?

Love cannot be found in the seemingly outside world or in the apparent others; love is here and now, in this moment. When there is no resistance to what IS, so called ‘pleasant emotions’ can arise. But love arising from non-resistance is ‘different’ from the love we conventionally refer to. In this sense, love is not something that can be achieved by doing.

Love cannot be gained.
Love is not doing.
Love is non-action.
Love is non-resistance.

Love is acceptance.
Love is peace with what IS.

When there is no resistance, love naturally arises.
Without resistance, love is all there is.

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Are annoying people really annoying?

281Imagine that you have a boss who is really annoying; the way he goes through the office, how he moves his hands, the tone of his voice, the way how he wants to persuade everybody that he is right. Every time you talk to him you become upset and feel tense. You even get irritated when you just spot his laptop on the desk, because it means that he is around and going to pick on you and give a lecture about how things should be.

He is really annoying. But is he truly?

Does he annoy me or have I become annoyed of him? Does his tone of voice have a power over my feelings and bodily sensations or do I get upset when I hear his voice? What does really irritate me, his voice or ‘my’ interpretation about his voice? He or ‘my’ story about him?

The whole world is just a projection. An intricately detailed web of beliefs is projected ‘outward’ to the seeming ‘others’, which is reflected back to ‘me’.

So when he starts to criticise me, it is not his words that hurt me; the ‘hurtful feelings’ come because his words have been interpreted through these beliefs. ‘I’ project ‘my’ fragile self-image onto his words, and if it hurts, it just means that there is a belief in action, a belief in a deficient, not-good-enough self.

The ‘annoying boss’ is just a reflection in the mirror.

And as long as there is a belief that my opinions, beliefs and thoughts are true and actual facts, there is also a belief in the seeming others’ opinions. But others’ opinions do not exist independently from ‘my’ interpretation. Both ‘my’ and others’ opinions are nothing more than concepts and they are not referring to anything real.

My boss’ opinions seem to ‘originate’ from him, but actually, his words are just the reflections of the belief in the deficient self.

Projection ‘fills’ the words by meaning.

When this apparent not-good-enough self is activated, “I feel little and inferior”. In order to compensate these feelings, the need for criticism arises. Every time I judge somebody, I feel better and superior because the fragile self-image is strengthened a bit, believing to be better than the apparent other. But all judgement comes from judging ‘myself’.

So, as long as the belief in the separate self is intact, there is a need for a constant reinforcement. “I need to feel superior, otherwise I am inferior”. But this reinforcement works only in comparison to something or somebody else, with an illusory separation, a division between ‘me’ and the rest of the world.

But in reality, none of them are real.
There is no separation, only thoughts suggest otherwise.
The world is nothing more than a reflection.
The other is just an image in the mirror.

Waking up in the dream is seeing that there has never been a self.
There is no ‘me’, no ‘you’, just life flowing freely as it IS.

Whatever IS, I don’t want it

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Humans are almost always not satisfied with what IS. This dissatisfaction can fluctuate on a spectrum from mild discomfort to full blown suffering, and can be artificially divided into two categories.

Probably the most unbearable sufferings can come from self-referencing beliefs, which are the building blocks of ‘our’ seeming self-image or identity with a core belief in ‘my’ incompleteness, unworthiness, unlovingness, guiltiness or whatever it might be – because deep down most of us ‘feel’ we are somehow not good enough, not complete; something is missing. But is this really the case? Is it really true? Where is this apparently deficient self? Where?

The other type of suffering is much more subtle; it is a constant arguing with what IS. No matter what is in this moment, but one thing is sure: ‘I do not want it’. Either I want the previous moment back or the next moment, but definitely not THIS. But actually, the statement ‘this moment is not good enough’ – is just a thought, nothing more.

256In the morning at breakfast, there is a fantasy about how good biking will be later in the afternoon. However, when biking happens, the mind wanders imagining eating the cooled watermelon from the fridge when I will be at home. Later, while eating the watermelon, thoughts come up demanding to check the emails. When reading the emails happen, it is labelled by the mind with a thought as boring, with an accompanying fantasy about how much better biking around the lake in the afternoon was.

Meanwhile, the sense of ‘me’ is sustained by being lost in the story of ‘my’ life. And the whole story revolves around only one character, called ‘me’. The ‘I’ is the centre of the universe, centre of its own projection. Everything is interpreted through the filter of a huge web of beliefs that constitutes the self.

The sensations in the legs while pushing the bike, the pumping of the heart in the chest, the warmth of the sun and the stroke of the breeze on the skin, the sight of the glimmering lake and the sounds of the twittering birds, the coolness of the watermelon in the mouth – are all lost and replaced by a dream

There is a constant dissatisfaction with what IS.
Because in this moment ‘I’ do NOT exist.
In this moment, without a mental commentary, there is no self to be found.
The ‘me’ lives only in thoughts.

But the thoughts or the stories by themselves are not problematic, only believing them creates the illusion of their realness. In direct experience, there are just thoughts and images passing by – empty, meaningless. Their meanings emerge only when they are believed and not seen for what they are – simply just thoughts.

Suffering comes from resisting what IS.
Without resistance there is no suffering.
Without arguing with what IS, there is peace.

What dies when I die?

254The ultimate fear of humankind is death. We fear to cease to be. But death is not what we think it is. If our parents or society had not told us anything about dying or death then we would not have any idea about it, we would not even know what it is, let alone fear it.

Then what is death? There is a constant flow of experiencing while the body is ‘alive’, until it is not. We label it as death. In one moment the organs of the body are functioning; in the next, they are not. They are changing into something else. Is this bad? Does this change have any innate nature of badness?

In one moment there is experiencing, in the next, there is not. Can death be experienced when there is no experiencing? When you go to sleep, do you experience death? Do you fear not waking up the next morning? Is there any difference between going to sleep every night and death?

Death cannot be experienced, because death is an idea. Fear of death is a resistance to the concept of death. Fear ‘lives’ only in thoughts. Without believing thoughts there is no fear, just the flow of life, perfect as it is.

Death does not exist in direct experience; and yet, this is probably the biggest bugaboo the mind could ever invent. Fear of death could not exist without projecting the belief in the separate self onto the body. If I think that I am the body, then I fear death. But I am not the body, because ‘I am’ is just a thought. Can a thought fear another thought?

Actually, what we really fear is losing ‘our’ selves. We think that there is a separate entity sealed behind the skin, and when the body perishes, this supposed entity will cease to be.

The ‘I’ that fears death cannot die because the ‘I’ has never existed. If this is seen then there is no fear of death because there is nobody to fear it. There is nobody to die with the body, because there is no entity living behind the eyes.

What are lost during the process of dying are the beliefs that constitute ‘me’. The components of self-image crumble, and when it is resisted it can trigger fear. “What is going to happen with my precious collection of matchboxes? What about my achievements? I am not finished yet with my plans. I have always dreamt about a happy retirement with lots of travelling, and spending time with my grandchildren. How could I accomplish all of this if I am gone? Has there been any meaning of my life at all?”

But in reality, nothing is lost. All of this was just dreaming about a non-existent past and future, with a ‘me’ that ‘lives’ only in past images and future fantasies.

Nothing ever dies, only the imagined story of ‘me’.
‘I’ cannot die. What has never been born cannot cease to be.

I cannot make you feel happy… it’s impossible…

137Can I make you feel happy or sad? Do I have the power to have an effect on your mood or feelings?

Assume that I am on the verge of telling you that I want to end our relationship, but I am not brave enough to bring the topic up because I am afraid of hurting your feelings. But do I really have the power to hurt anybody’s feelings?

If I leave you, you may feel sad, abandoned, angry or unloved. But is it true that I am the cause of your suffering? Can I make you suffer?

If I believe that I can do all of these to you, it means I am believing a story about my omnipotence. In the current version of the story of my life, I am playing god.

I have no power whatsoever on anybody’s feelings. It is literally impossible.

If you think that I am responsible for you feeling unloved and abandoned, it means that you project your own self-image onto me and blame me for your misery.

While the belief in the deficient, unloving self is intact, each person and situation reflect back, in one way or another, some version of this core belief. You cannot see me, you cannot hear me, because you perceive me and the whole world through this lens. No matter whether I treat you lovingly or not, you will see and interpret my actions as unloving.

When I decide to leave you, you find this as a proof of your unlovingness, which in turn, fortifies the core belief of the incomplete, unloving self that is the basis of your identity. Thus, it is projected outward again and again and making others responsible for your own creation.

You cannot see me; you only see your story about me, which is your story about ‘your’ self.

Reality is neutral. In the action of leaving you there is no inherent attributes of pain, abandonment or lack of love. Only your story about ‘me leaving you’ hurts you. Your thoughts are hurting you, not me. I cannot do that.

But if I believe that I can hurt you then I create my own suffering by feeling guilty or responsible for your feelings. I do this to myself by projecting the belief of my incomplete self onto you, which will be reflected back to me, and thus the story of the deficient self keeps going.

‘You’ and ‘me’, we are not that special.
‘I’ have no power to do anything with ‘you’.
Only ‘you’ can hurt yourself by believing ‘your’ story.
By believing that there is a ‘you’ that could be hurt.

What would you be without ‘your’ story?
Would ‘you’ be?

Why do we have a need to enhance our self-image?

It is commonplace in our culture that we try to improve our self-image in many different ways. Many people attempt to enhance their self-esteem by positive thinking, different types of therapies, or being nice and follow social norms to fit in, in order to get approval by others.

230The ‘I’ is constantly seeking appreciation in some way or another and feels it has to make an impression on others to make them like ‘me’. It is trying to push an image to imprint into others’ minds, how it wants them to see ‘me’ and think about ‘me’.

We relentlessly try to improve our self-image, because deep down most of us feel we are not OK, we are not complete; something is missing. We push our desired self-image forward to win others over. ‘This is how I want you to see me’. The irony is that this image that depicts how I want you to see me is the exact opposite of how I see myself.

So, who do I want to convince that I am better than I think I am?
You or me? Is there any division between ‘you’ and ‘me’?

Without believing that there are two solid, separate selves, ‘you’ and ‘me’, the ‘I’ could not feel better or worse than ‘you’. Without comparison there is no division.

The ‘I’ wants to improve its self-image because there is a belief in an incomplete, deficient self. This belief can take many forms: ‘unlovable me’, ‘unworthy me’, ‘ugly me’, ‘I am not good enough’, ‘I am not successful enough’, ‘something is wrong with me’, ‘I am not strong enough’, and so on. The list is endless.

The illusion of the self is constructed from millions of beliefs, but the belief in the incomplete, deficient self has the strongest and most enchanting effect of all. This core belief is the basis of ‘our’ so called self-esteem and identity. All relationships reflect back this central belief, because the mind cannot help but project all its content ‘out there’. And since the world mirrors back the incomplete self, the reflection seems as a proof for validating its deficiency. As a result, the core belief is fortified and kept in place.

No matter how hard we try to override the belief in the separate, deficient self by positive thinking, or spending hundreds of hours in meditation or in different practises, the suffering is guaranteed.

But the existence of a deficient self is just a belief.

When this core belief is seen for what it is – just an unexamined thought taken seriously – it naturally falls away. But for the ‘I’ this can be frightening, since this belief is the basis of its ‘existence’.

Without believing in the incomplete self, there is no self, there is no ‘I’ to be found.

There is no need to enhance ‘my’ self-image and imprint onto ‘your’ mind to make a desired impression. Self-image and self-esteem become empty words, not referring to anything real.