A Love/LOVE Story:
The Alchemy of Intimacy
In our story, at the cosmic level of pure being, UNIQUENESS and ONENESS dance together. Neither exists without the other – and both are deepened by this timeless dance. The dance of UNIQUENESS and ONENESS is called RELATIONSHIP. It is how LOVE expresses itself in an expanding Universe of LOVE.
At the human level – the level of doing - relationship is also a dance of uniqueness and oneness. The human doing of relationship mirrors the cosmic being in RELATIONSHIP. Here, too, uniqueness and oneness support each other in a synergy that deepens both. Our wholeness as individuals enhances our capacity to form deep intimate partnerships – more perfect unions - just as an intimate partnership fosters deeper individuality, personal growth and wholeness in each partner.
In this story’s third installment, as we explore the alchemy of intimacy, we see how a healthy and balanced approach to close human relationship brings doing and being together in a way that transforms the individual, creates a LOVE entity (a Third Self), and expands the universe. In this alchemy, love becomes LOVE.
Most of us bring to our closest relationships a hope that the relationship will lead to healing and transformation. And I believe it does – only not in the way we hope. We hope that our wounds and sore spots will be comforted in the balm of relational love and will essentially disappear. Generally, the opposite happens. Our partners inevitably activate the very discomforts we were hoping to avoid. I see this activation as a well-disguised gift.
Typically, our first response is to try to get the partner to change, so that our discomfort abates. While not always a bad idea, this approach usually doesn’t work – until, oddly enough, we face what we need to face with spaciousness, compassion and love. This loving ownership of self often frees our partner to join us in that compassionate, healing endeavor.
For example, one person in a relationship is sensitive to feelings of loneliness and abandonment. When that sensitivity is activated, he tries to get his partner to be more loving. The partner, however, who is sensitive to feelings of being criticized or controlled, stiffens and emotionally withdraws in an attempt to avoid her discomfort. Her withdrawal activates his discomfort; his pressure activates hers. Around and around they go, stuck in a painful dance that sidetracks them from intimate connection, illuminates their sore spots and invites deeper self-reflection. Once each faces his/her own sensitivity, owns it compassionately and shares it in a self-revealing way, space opens for both to heal.
Intimate life - through the gift of grace and the messiness of trial and error - tugs us gently and persistently toward expansion. Despite many failures, we learn new skills, new ways of seeing and operating. We collect more tools for our toolbox. We learn new love languages. We become more whole and complete, more able to grow a relationship.
The Third Self
It’s long been known in the psychotherapeutic community that - in healthy, balanced, mature relationships - the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This wholeness cannot be accounted for by simply looking at the individuals in the relationship, any more than water can be accounted for by looking at hydrogen and oxygen.
When people gather – as a couple, a family, a team, a tribe, an organization, or a nation – there is an identity created that is distinct from, and larger than, the individuals that make up that gathering. In their teachings about love and intimacy, Teilhard de Chardin and Richard Moss label this distinct identity the Third Self - a spiritual entity, present in every relationship, with its own evolving energy or character, its own unique potentials and purpose, and its own requirements and needs.
This Third Self is palpable and real. It’s the spirit or soul of a relationship - a bit like the culture of an organization. It is co-created by the individuals in a group and it, in turn, has profound effects on its members. For example, a problem solving team creates a climate of trust, openness and safety that welcomes and values input from all its members. In the warmth of that Third Self, individual team members blossom and shine.
In close, long-term relationships, the impact of the Third Self is even more powerful. When we orient ourselves toward intimacy - toward spaciousness and self-revelation - our human love co-creates a spiritual entity whose essence is LOVE. Our balanced, generous and heartfelt doing of love mirrors cosmic LOVE, births new LOVE and expands the universe.
Expanding Universe of LOVE
Relentlessly, since that first explosion of LOVE, the universe has been expanding. According to Teilhard de Chardin, all evolution – personal, interpersonal, planetary and cosmic - is relational. Growth takes place in the context of relationship. And LOVE is the energy at the core of that growth. Creative, intelligent and intentional, LOVE energizes evolution. Since we are inseparable from LOVE, each of us is part of that expansion. And the part we play matters more than we can imagine.
In this story, while all relationships teach and transform us, our closest relationships lead to the deepest personal transformations and have powerful effects on the world around us. Every act of authentic intimacy - every doing of love - makes LOVE. Knowing and being known, receiving and radiating love, consciously co-creating LOVE – these actions transform people, partnerships and planets. LOVE heals. LOVE grows the universe.
Romantic movies make such fanfare about love – high drama, violin music, grand passion, love that is larger than life. We may roll our eyes a bit, and yet find ourselves somehow stirred. Maybe it’s not just that our emotions are being played. Perhaps something deeper is being tapped, something we recognize at the level of soul, but can’t quite recall.
Perhaps we have an ancient memory of LOVE that is grander than anything imaginable – LOVE that is larger than life.
First of all, I want to thank your for being patient with me these last couple months, as I have focused single-mindedly on the topic of love - repeating similar themes in slightly different ways. I’m preparing for a presentation on the transformational power of love at an upcoming conference and have been gathering my thoughts through these postings - rehearsing with you.
Secondly, I want to remind you that Richard Moss is coming to central Minnesota (June 28 – July 1) to offer a retreat – Choose Only Love - focused on the spirituality and psychology of love. I am so looking forward to this extraordinary gathering and hope some of you can join me there.
Please check out Richard’s website at www.richardmoss.com for more information. Feel free to email me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org Scholarships are available as needed.