Unconditional love is a tender little plant
Unconditional love is like a tender little plant. We, humans, have set up many conditions for allowing love – just as for being happy or successful.
How can we find a way out of this conditionality? One approach is to ruthlessly apply a set of virtues that we all carry within us: Virtues are qualities such as justice, honesty, humor, trust, modesty, serenity, attentiveness or love. The virtues are intrinsic potentials or qualities of our soul or character that can be discovered, strengthened or developed. They are universal. The only benefit is themselves. That is why they are so valuable. They have a value in themselves. They do not pursue any benefit, do not impose any conditions. They simply stand for themselves.
We can illustrate this with the example of a plant: Too much water can drown it and too little water can cause it to wither. It depends on the right amount and the right intention. It is a tender plant, this unconditional love.
In order to eventually get something from this plant called unconditional love, fruit or just the joy of it blossoming, we shall give the plant an appropriate form and intensity of care. There is no immediate direct benefit for us to derive by caring for it. We will water the little plant and nothing changes for the time being. We receive nothing in return, not even an audible thank you. “Dear plant, give us fruits and you will get water in return!”. This is exactly what conditionality demands. It only invests something in the care of the plant if it receives something back, or even takes something away first before it gives at all.
“Then I might as well not bother watering!” the conditionality continues to speak. How do we get out of this misery? In order to help unconditional love to blossom, we can practice the following virtues:
- Trust: Practicing trust that us caring for the plant is a good deed in itself and practicing trust that good care can lead to a good result, trust without conditions.
- Continuity and discipline: Watering once does not work. Only when we regularly give an adequate amount of water, the plant can grow and flourish. Anything less could kill the plant. Unconditional continuity.
- Acceptance: No matter what happens, we will accept it. The shamrock has four leaves? Maybe humor and serenity can help as well: Two related virtues that can help to accept things that happen. Unconditional acceptance.
- Forgiveness and mercy: We may forgive ourselves when the plant has died because we forget to care for it. We may forgive “the circumstances” outside of our control which also caused the plant to wither away. Unconditional forgiveness.
- Detachment in everything: Detachment from any conditions, detachment from results as well as expectations. Above all, we may detach from ourselves, i.e. being selfless. This is the core of unconditionality, and if we want to practice or experience unconditional love, we ourselves must not stand in the way, regardless of what happens.
At this point, regarding the subject of unconditional love, we start to realize that we are surrendering ourselves to a greater cause. Thus, loving everything unconditionally equals the maximum surrender of ourselves and the maximum surrender to something greater, outside of us. The virtues outlined above form a good basis for manifesting this unconditionality. They open the heart and soul and prepare them for anything which wants to stream into our lives.