How Getting A Puppy Dog Was A Lesson In Unconditional Love
I’d like to introduce you to Leo, our latest family member. He is a 5 month old Cavoodle (cross between poodle and Cavalier Kind Charles Spaniel). He’s cheeky, funny, intelligent and a ball of cuddles. But beyond that he has this remarkable ability to inspire love wherever he goes. It doesn’t matter what mood you are in, how your day has been or even what he has done, he still manages to inspire unconditional love. He can drop a poo in the middle of the floor on our lovely shag pile rug and within minutes he will still receive adoration and cuddles.
That said he still requires boundaries and guidance to learn what’s cool and what’s not cool behaviour so he doesn’t get to totally do what ever he wants to do. So once those boundaries have been enforced and he abides by them (knowing full well that he wont ‘get it’ straight away), we continue to shower him with adoring affection and love. And from what I have gathered now that I have entered the world of pet ownership, this seems to be almost across the board with all other dog owners that I have met.
The question is, if we can do this with fluffy dogs, why can’t we do it with our fellow humans and even more so, with ourselves!? Why do we harbour sometimes a lifetime of guilt, anger, jealousy, shame, rage, low self worth, doubt and regret? Unconditional love seems to be one of the hardest conditions for humankind to embrace when it comes to other humans (and ourselves) yet we do it so easily for puppy dogs. Is it that we accept their fallibility so readily with such low expectation? I know I am my worst critic and have such high expectations on my self that I’ve spent a lifetime beating myself up because of my flaws. Being human is a challenging process. Not only do we have such high expectations on how other human’s should behave we also have them on ourselves. To some degree this is a good thing, it helps us grow and evolve. It helps us become a better human being. But finding that balance of taking that information of negative feedback to grow and overcome deep conditioning and also loving others and our self unconditionally in the process is not an easy task.
I feel I need to clarify here that loving someone (or yourself) unconditionally doesn’t mean they are allowed to do what ever they like. My greatest leaps of growth have come from inner and external criticism of my behavioural patterns that need to change. This flow of information is essential in our ongoing evolution as a human being. It’s like when I’m establishing boundaries for my teenage children, and they have their phone removed from them for a day or two as a consequence of their actions, I always emphasise to them that this is flowing from a place of a deep unconditional love that I have for them. But there are still boundaries. It’s how I follow through with them that affects the future. Sure it’s uncomfortable for a little while, but knowing that the love for them has never stopped flowing moves everyone out of the dark space quickly.
One of our greatest challenges is for us to do the same for our self. How quickly can I adapt and change for the better after suffering some consequences and then proceed to maintain unconditional love for myself? Often I will spend months berating myself and feeling dark and contracted, dimming my light and withdrawing the love, not just for myself but for others also. But does this serve me or humanity? What if there was a way to light up that dark room with my inner light of love and let it shine brighter? The ego thrives in the wallow and darkness. It’s like a toxic mould that grows in the damp darkness of misery and suffering.
The key to returning to unconditional love I believe is to dissolve the ego. When we strip this thin layer of identity away, what remains is the permanence and unmovedness of Being, otherwise known as unconditional love. Unconditional love is the essence of who we are. It’s like the sun that burns consistently showering light and warmth regardless if there are clouds or not. The ego comes in and impedes the radiance of lovingness. It’s always there however we have become so addicted to the presence of the ego that we ignore the subtlety that lies behind this. This is why it’s so hard to live in this state. This egoic layer is resilient and deeply established. There are times when we may experience the glimpse into unconditional love, yet again the layers come sweeping back in and the clouds of ego take over.
Unconditional love is not an easy state to sustain. If it was the world would be a very different place. But bringing awareness to its possibility and committing to sustaining it more and more will not only change our own daily experience but the planet as a whole.