There are many vague definitions of love, but the core values of forgiving, giving and truthfulness are universal.
The Beatles sing to us that “All you need is love.” Elton John reminds us that “Love is what we came here for.” Both of these messages have shaped my thoughts and steered my awareness by allowing me to discover what love is all about.
As a child growing up in a Latin culture, my parents would talk about “love” or “amor” while using the phrase “te quiro” or “I want you.” This was an interesting first exposure to the misconception of love.
During my early years in the United States, I was influenced by the lyrics within the music. It became evident that for most people, “love” was defined by phrases such as:
• United for a lifetime
• Love hurts
• You’ve got to hide love away
• Love means never having to say you’re sorry
• I’m everything I am because of you
• If you don’t come and find me, I will die
From this vantage point, love appears to be about addictions, romance, passion, emotions, wants, needs, pain and lack. I quickly became baffled…How could grand ideas such as “love is all we need” and “love is what we came here for” resonate and mix with all these other concepts of suffering, codependency and addiction?
Intuitively, I knew that love was an essential and influential value. As a result I made the conscious choice to look for a way to love everything and everyone in my business and personal life. All of this served as a catalyst for the journey to discover the meaning of love.
Around 1979, I was introduced to the idea that all emotions are rooted in either love or fear. Soon after, one of my teachers, Bo In Lee, shared with me a very useful and powerful definition of love. I expressed to him that it was simple to identify fear; just look for any negative emotion such as greed, anger, depression, judgment or jealousy. Yet, how does one identify love? His explanation was simple and clear as he slowly uttered a group of words that would change the way I experienced relationships; He said: “Love understands, love gives, love forgives and love is truthful.”
For the past 32 years, I applied Bo In Lee’s wisdom to my everyday interactions. I’ve used it in manufacturing, negotiations, relationships, friendships, with partners and strangers, and even as a healing tool. The inner emotion of love, as taught by our society, rarely lasts. How is it that we say, “I love you,” and the next moment, “I hate you”?Society’s definition of love is volatile, conditional, inconsistent and lacks purpose. This meaning of love is based on what we do or don’t do for each other, and comes and goes like the wind. Within this social definition, love has little to no value. When love is defined as understanding, giving, forgiving and being truthful, it has great worth.
Taking the time to understand is the most essential element of love. Throughout my discovery process, I found various methods that allowed me to understand. The simplest way is to count to ten and observe. Another method is to use the technique of reflective listening in which the listener repeats what he or she has just heard to the speaker. It is important to be patient and open minded when seeking the ability to understand. Once we are clearly able to understand; forgiving, giving and truthfulness naturally follow.
Forgiving frees us from the anchors of judgment, anger and resentment. Although it is difficult to forget, forgiveness is essential for opening our heart to loves journey.
In life giving requires personal creativity. Each circumstance allows for us to give in ways such as compassion, kindness, time, or a physical gift. When dealing with an individual that acts in an unacceptable or dangerous way, the only thing left to give are clear boundaries or distance.
Truthfulness is the most difficult element of love. Truthfulness for one person may not be the same for another since truth is based on our point of reference. There are infinite ways to look at individual situations that generate many meanings and interpretations. This process starts with identifying the facts by asking who, when, where and what. Be sensitive and compassionate while staying objective. Be aware of a person’s ability and capability to understand what you are sharing or speaking. Be especially conscious of cultural and accent differences. Even when speaking the same language there are distinct differences in dialect and regional customs.
Commonly, it said that we can only love another as much as we love ourselves. Understanding, forgiving, giving, and being truthful is most challenging when applied to ourselves, yet essential for establishing a baseline for practicing love.
For all the years that I have actively used and applied this definition, I have been able to replace the suffering that comes from judgment and reaction with the experience of love.
Realistically, what kind of world would we live in if our bosses and leaders, lovers and friends, judges and lawyers, police and criminals, as well as the rest of society were able to take the time to understand, forgive, give, and be truthful? This is a simple idea that if applied correctly will work and possibly become contagious. Just imagine – What a wonderful world this could be.