It has been more than two weeks since I first started to draft this series… There is a certain value in finding appropriate words for my feelings and in putting my thoughts out in writing. But even bigger value comes from the breaks and from preparing the parts for publication, re-reading them after a few days, returning to the ideas at different moments, while being in different places and different states of mind. Re-evaluating my memories, but even more attempting to understand how new knowledge, new insights can influence my present and future….
I mentioned my problems with self-love in part 3 and used word “Karma” in connection with my experiences in the year 2007 and beyond… Last Friday, I attended a meditation event where the topic of Karma was discussed in detail from the Buddhism perspective… Which seems to bring everything together. After that meditation event, I spent an evening at the Elbe, reflecting on what it all means for me… As I am starting to write this post, I am still not sure of what I am going to write, but I am curious to discover…
You know, the trigger for this series is that I’m in love again. It is surprising, it is unexpected and unplanned (as if love ever happens by plan), and it’s… different.
It’s different because quite some time has passed since I actually fell in love the previous time. It’s different because I grew and changed a lot over these years. It’s different because I have discovered a lot about the world and human connections… And it is also different because the lady who I’m in love with now… she has expressed to me some thoughts and ideas that I have never heard anyone else saying… except myself.
But while the foundations of this new love are very different, there are still some commonalities with my past experiences that my mind picks up and reminds me of, throwing at me some accompanying feelings as pain, guilt, shame… and longing. It is this longing in particular that triggered me to write about love again.
Through my explorations in the previous parts (and even more — reflections outside of the writing process), I think I have covered it, I have worked through it, and I feel much lighter now.
But that appears not to be the end of the story of love & pain.
We often take Karma as something external, as some kind of a registry that stores all our deeds, and then something like God or Life itself considers this registry at their weekly/monthly/annual reviews to decide what to give us for the next period of our life.
Surprisingly, the Buddhism picture of the world is very, very similar to what I described in part 3… From their perspective, there is only a network of living beings and nothing but this network. The “real world” does not exist, because the world is influenced by the prism of the soul’s perception.
And this perception is altered by events in our life. Our own thoughts and actions alter it as well. Everything that happens to us leaves a trace on our souls. Accordingly, Karma becomes the aggregate of all these traces and their effects. As such, Karma defines our perception, thus represents our whole experience of the world.
In other words, “Karma returns to us” because all that we do changes us. Good deeds mostly make us a better person, and not-so-good deeds… well, you get the direction :)
What I realized after the discussion about Karma… That love in which I am now, while being romantic and sexual, does not depend much on the actions of the lady who I love, but mostly on who I am and who I have become. It does not depend on whether things will actually work out between us or not. That no matter what happens between us, I will remember everything that we have already experienced together with gratitude. I will appreciate her and her art, and I will wish her joy and satisfaction from her time here, I will wish her to continue being fully alive and experience much happiness on her journey. That I will accept her and care about her.
And then I realized… that’s exactly what I owe to myself… And in trying to understand why it is so easy for me to fall in love with someone else in whom I see a reflection of myself, but incredibly difficult to love myself in my own body, I have got a couple of ideas…
As with everything else in life, a large part of problems with self-love could depend on our upbringing, the environment which welcomed us to life, people who surrounded us and were our role models… Unfortunately, I have to admit that there haven’t been much healthy self-love in my family.
The people who I looked up to the most as my role models — my mom and my granddad — were very much at the altruistic extreme, giving love to everyone but not leaving much, not caring that much about themselves. And it did not matter how much others tried to bring that aspect to their attention and ask, almost plead them to take some time and take care of themselves.
And because they were my role models, that became exactly what have been happening with me in my life. I have been trying hard to please people, to avoid creating any discomfort for others, to satisfy the expectations of others (or, even worse, what I thought were the expectations of others)… In the end, precisely that became the main reason of how I went for the PhD, having to chew myself from the inside for 3,5 years (and counting) with no own purpose for doing that work. I just cared a bit too much about leaving my parents and granny “happy”. Plus at the time when the decision had to be made, I had no alternative at hand which could provide comparable benefits AND be good for me personally.
The another idea was an exploration.
“If I don’t feel love for myself, what do I feel instead?”, — I asked myself.
On that not-so-happy morning, the answer was: “I hate myself”.
“Why?”, — I kept probing…
And then it shined on me.
The broken ideal that I mentioned earlier in the series — connecting with somebody else so strongly that I feel one with them, — unreachability of which brings me that feeling of existential loneliness… That is what I’m seeking with others to a high degree, while with myself I have it already, but to the extreme degree. I am inseparable from myself. I do feel all my thoughts, ideas, aspirations, dreams. I do follow myself through all the life experiences. I read all the blog posts and tweets which I publish, see all the Instagram photos which I share, participate in all the Live Your Legend meetups which I organize (whether or not anyone else comes to them), experience all the fears and rejections with myself, in myself… I can’t step back and take some time away, I can’t have a rest from myself… or can I?
And, more importantly, does it have to be hate?
Actually, that rest that I have just mentioned appears to be exactly what meditation gives me: a chance to take a step back and just experience the being, the present, without the constant noise of my inner voice shouting “consider this!”, “be that!”, “do it, now!”… In a meditative experience, this voice slowly gets quieter, and quieter, and quieter, until it turns into whispers… or even stops for some moments, hands the “stage” over to the sensual experiences.
And, in fact, the flow state in any activity is quite like that, be it coding, writing, playing music, doing sports or having sex. If I tune into mindfulness and concentration on the current activity, the “narrator” slowly fades out and what is left is the Presence and the special joy of being alive.
So, what is the answer then? What is the way to love myself more? Meditate more and often? Probably yes, but again, that’s only one part of the answer…
What I plan to try on for the next few days is to redirect the love I am feeling this days, to switch the main recipient from the lady artist towards myself. Let’s see how the Life feels then.
And by the way… Happy Birthday, Lik!
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