Unconditional love gives us permission to be

Unconditional love is the only thing that can give us permission to be – nothing else will do. So if, when we start off in life, we don’t meet with unconditional life, then we won’t have permission to be

What happens then is that we have to get used to existing without being, existing but not being. It’s not that we’re going to be aware of missing being, any more than we were aware of missing unconditional love – in both cases, we don’t consciously miss it because we never knew it in the first place! We cannot miss what we’ve never experienced. We don’t miss unconditional love any more than we miss being, any more than we miss being given the permission to be. We don’t even know that there is such a thing. Because we have never known anything apart from ‘existing’ we will think that existing is all there is…

unconditional-love youJust because we haven’t been given permission to be, just because no one let us know that we’re allowed to be, doesn’t mean that we don’t have the permission to be, that we aren’t allowed to be. We don’t really need someone to come along and give us ‘permission’. It’s just that as small children we generally need to be in an environment of unconditional love in order for that awareness (the awareness that it’s OK to be) to awaken in us and grow strong. ‘Being’, at this early stage, is like a delicate plant – harsh, cold winds will put a stop to its development. They won’t kill it entirely, but they will cause it to shrivel and ‘die back’.

The ‘Capacity to Be’ will still be there however – it will be like an underground root or rhizome that is safe from even the severest frost, the longest winter. The thing is, though, if we start off this way, not receiving any unconditional love, not getting any permission to be and thinking therefore that existing is all there is, then we’ll carry on this way and we’ll never get in touch with the capacity that we have within us, which is the ‘capacity to be’. The root will stay dormant underground therefore, quite possibly for the whole of our lives.

If it were the case that the people we meet after we grow up were able to give us the unconditional love that we missed out on as children then this would be the equivalent of the sun finally coming out after a long, harsh winter – in the undemanding warmth of this love new shoots will be sent up from the underground rhizome, and we will have been given the ‘permission to be’ that had been withheld from us earlier on in our lives. It is however rare for this to happen, for the simple reason that the vast majority of people have also been refused this all-important ‘permission to be’ at the critical point in their lives, at the point when it mattered so much…

This sounds incredible. It’s hard to believe. Could it really be true that most of the human race have no capacity to be, don’t know what it feels like to be, and have to make do in life with merely ‘getting by’, merely ‘existing’? This is like saying that some terrible calamity has befallen us all, a calamity which nobody knows about, which nobody has spotted. It’s an invisible calamity – no one’s read about it in the newspaper, no one’s heard about it on a news bulletin. Everyone just carries on as if it had never happened. This is the sort of thing Jean Baudrillard is talking about in The Perfect Crime, where he argues that reality itself has been murdered. This is a ‘perfect crime’ because there are no witnesses’, no one to notice that reality has been taken away. We don’t know it to miss it. We just make do with the substitute that’s been given to us. We just ‘make do’ with what we’ve got…

In the same way when being is murdered (or strangled at birth) it’s a perfect crime because there’s no one around to notice what’s happened. It takes being to notice the absence of being, after all! We’ve been given a substitute for being which is ‘existence’, and we make do with this. We think it’s the same thing. We don’t know the difference. In a world where mere brutal existence has replaced the magic of being, life becomes very different indeed, however. In the world where ‘existence replaces being’ everything becomes competitive. Everyone tries to use or exploit everyone else, if they can get away with it. We either use or are used. We either exploit others, or are in turn exploited. Everything becomes about gain and loss, advantage and disadvantage. Who will win the advantage, who will come out on top? Even minor random social interactions become like this – who will come out the winner, who will come out looking the best?

This is so normal to us that we hardly notice it. In this world of ‘mere existence’ no one gives anything away for free. Everyone’s got an agenda, everyone’s got a game plan. As a general rule, if you’ve got something somebody else wants then they will be all over you, and if you don’t then they won’t want anything to do with you! You get liked if you’ve got ‘something to offer’ and you’re invisible if you haven’t. You won’t show up on their radar. If you’re helping someone with their agenda then they’ll be you’re best friend and if you’re standing in their way then they will be hostile towards you. This is what life’s like in a world where being has been murdered…

In this world the most important thing of all has gone missing. This is ‘the thing without which nothing else makes any sense’; as Paul says in Corinthians 13 – “Though I speak with the tongue of men and angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or as a tinkling cymbal.” The thing that’s gone missing is unconditional love, which is ‘giving without an agenda’. We live in a world where the normal thing is not to unconditionally give but to take – our whole civilization is based on taking! Even when we appear to give it is usually only so that we can take later on, on a bigger scale, as this video on Global Wealth Inequalities argues.

For sure all the people with power are taking – which is something Gurdjieff’s student J.G. Bennett points out. For those in power there’s nothing more flatly incomprehensible than ‘unconditional giving’ – this is something that simply ‘does not compute’! Power in this world is a license to take – that’s why we want power, so that we’ll be able to take more, so that we’ll be one of those people who takes rather than one ‘from whom is taken’. So in this world they’re a minority of people with the power to take and everyone else gets taken from, everyone else gets controlled. This is clearly the way it works! I’d have to have my head embedded very deeply in the sand to deny this! If we’re aware at all, then we can’t help feeling that there’s ‘something wrong with the world’ – we can’t help feeling that life shouldn’t be like this…

But even those who’ve managed to claw their way to the top of the dung-heap and become ‘successful takers’ do not really benefit from this unpleasant arrangement. Voracious taking doesn’t restore the precious being that we’ve lost. It doesn’t make us happy again. It doesn’t bring back the magic of life – it just feeds the hunger! It unfailingly exacerbates a horrendously painfully negative inner state. It compounds the problem. What restores being is giving, not taking! The principle is “The more we give, the more we are!” In the brutal joyless world of mere existence however we come across the inverted version of this cosmic law, which says “The more you take, the more you have.” This is the version we’re all familiar with in this corporation-governed, commercially-orientated world.

In this commercial world ‘love’ has become weirdly distorted. It’s been repackaged and sold back to us as a commodity, as something we can ‘win’ if we’re successful enough. If we can play the game cleverly enough and ruthlessly enough we will gain love, so we’re told. Love equals ‘possession and control’ and this is reflected in our relationships, which almost invariably turn into games of control. When we love someone we straightaway try to control them, because control is all we understand! Love has therefore been turned into its antithesis. In order to love we must have being – only actual being can love. Mechanical existence can only control, can only take. This means that unless we can learn to nurture being within ourselves, and provide it with an environment within which it can grow, then we’ll never even know what unconditional love is…

By Nick Williams | TNP

Subscribe to our Newsletter

SHARE