Read an Excerpt
A Lifetime of LOVE
How to Bring More Depth, Meaning and Intimacy into Your Relationship
By DAPHNE ROSE KINGMA
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 1998 Daphne Rose Kingma
All rights reserved.
Love for all Time
Everyone who falls in love wants a lifetime of love—not just a passing experience, but a soulful connection that will grow over time and survive the life changes we all go through. We want company on the journey of our lives; we want to share life's pleasures and sorrows with a person who knows and cares about us deeply.
All too often, however, the relationships we make don't give us the kind of satisfaction we wish they would. When we fall in love, we have high hopes because we've experienced a season of heightened excitement and pleasure, and expect that some of this ecstatic energy will follow us down the path of our relationship. But unfortunately, most of us don't know how to assure that it will, and so rather than becoming richer, deeper, and more satisfying as time goes on, our relationships often become shallower, more habitual, and less inspiring. Instead of feeling more beautifully intertwined with the person we once fell in love with, over time we begin to feel like roommates, sharing a household and a few familiar habits.
This book is about enhancing your intimate relationship, about giving it the qualities that in your heart of hearts you hope it will be able to bestow upon you. The wonderful news is that we can actually develop the attitudes, outlooks, and behaviors that create experiences of depth, meaning, and intimacy. Instead of having a relationship that dwindles the longer it lasts, we can genuinely and reasonably look forward to a relationship that deepens and becomes richer over time—if we are willing to invest the energy.
Depth, meaning, and intimacy are not givens. You can't have them just because you "fall in love," or "have a relationship," or "get married." Rather, they are very high qualities for any relationship, qualities that refer to the extraordinary parts of our being—our spiritual dimension—where we are more than just people with feelings, habits, schedules, and responsibilities.
When we speak of depth, we are referring to something that has the capacity to move us emotionally to a very high degree. We long for depth because depth shows us our true nature as human beings, dimensions that are not part of the ordinary goings on of daily life. When we encounter our depths, we come into contact with the further reaches of ourselves and suddenly understand that life is much grander than we ever imagined. There is a thrill in coming face to face with our own depth; there's an even greater thrill when we experience depth in a relationship. The person we love has joined us in the quality of experience that allows us to see that life is more than just what we're having for dinner or how we're going to pay the bills. Depth gives our lives a quality and a richness that simply don't exist without it.
Meaning has to do with the significance of things; in particular, the significance of things to us. Your birthday has meaning, for example, because it reminds you of the miracle of your own life. When we experience meaning in a relationship, we suddenly understand that life has qualities and values that we didn't know it had. This comforts us; it gives us a sense of ease. Instead of feeling like we're trapped in a random universe where anything can happen and nothing can be counted on, we suddenly understand that life is orderly and beautiful. It is, in fact, exquisitely designed; we can relax our cares and concerns in the beautiful, carrying basket that meaning provides for us.
Intimacy is the experience of closeness that brings joy to life. It's the bottom line of what we want out of our relationships. It's the pleasure of being close with someone and it is what makes us feel not only happy to be alive, but happy to be alive in the company of our beloved. Instead of being on a long, struggling, curious journey on our own, we recognize we have company and that our burdens, as well as our great joys, can be shared. Intimacy is the sharing of all our life experiences, whether deep and meaningful, or casual and everyday. The more we have this exchange, the more connected we feel to the person we love.
Depth, meaning, and intimacy are qualities that refer to our souls, that part of each of us which is eternal and precious beyond words. So, as we seek them in our relationships, we are really reaching for something that operates on a spiritual level and gives us the great satisfaction of recognizing that we are spirits as well as mere mortal human beings. Seen in this way, love is the gift of a lifetime, one to be treasured always.
This book is a gift of simple teachings about the grandeur, the beauty, the wonder, and the simplicity of adding depth, meaning, and intimacy to your relationship. May you enjoy it and the rich rewards that the practice of these qualities will bring to your intimate life.
A Soulful Connection
Since time immemorial, men and women have loved one another—desperately, madly, sweetly, with unbridled, dangerous passion, with the compassion of their kind hearts, to the depth of their souls. Love knows no bounds. There is no country, province, or people to which it has ever been irrelevant; and, whenever you fall in love, you join the company of lovers of all times in living out one of life's greatest themes.
What you feel when you fall in love is universal. However ordinary or simple your own love may appear to be, to your heart and soul it is a grand love. Like David and Bathsheba, Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Abelard and Heloise, your love, too, is an experience of wonder and ecstatic belonging that will draw you into life's most tragic and beautiful moments. Through love you become part of a sacred tradition, that great lineage of all those who have plighted their troth, promised their hearts to one another, chosen to live and die for love, and known that love was the only thing worth living for.
We need love.
We seek love because in every cell of our being we know that love is the only thing we cannot live without. In each breath, with each beat of our hearts, we know this. This is why no matter what else we may do or pursue in our lives, love is always our highest goal, our farthest reach, our most passionate quest.
That is because in our hearts we know that in this world of sorrow and betrayal, love is what we have to hold on to. Only love can make our hearts sing in even the deepest of darkness, can let our souls come to peace in the midst of even the most tremendous travail. Love is the only thing we will take with us when we walk out of this life.
Everything that we are—personality, body, emotions, achievements, reputation, bank accounts, friendships, trophies, Academy Awards, gold medals, houses, furniture, parents and children, even memories and great expectations—will all pass away. Only love, the beautiful light, will remain. For love is the light that calls us into being and awaits us when we have stepped our last curtsy across life's stage. Love is the mystical, unconditionally all-affirming Yes. Love is being itself, consciousness itself, the energy which itself is the substance and essence of life.
We love in the midst of Love.
The love we feel, the love we need, the love we give is surrounded by the great Love that is the matrix and cradle and blessing and essence of our being. This Love is the vessel, recipe, and map for all the words, gifts, and happenings, beautiful moments and touching exchanges which in this life we call loving, being loved, or feeling love. It is the limitless sea in which all our human experiences of love—the love of lovers and sweethearts, of husbands and wives, of parents for their children, brothers and sisters for one another, of dearest friends and compassionate strangers—swim like the vast and variegated multitude of fish in the infinite ocean.
Love as we know it and live it—the love of duty, as a man to his country; of pleasure, as in the flower of friendship; of passion and ecstasy, as in romance; of commitment, as in all the changing vicissitudes of our intimate relationships—all these are faces, miniature and particular embodiments, of the faceless, infinitely graceful, endlessly tenderhearted Love that is the medium in which we all live and breathe.
All the love we need and know and seek and make is but the corner of a postcard from this infinite and beautiful landscape. We can discover our connection to that great, that infinite love through particular exalted moments of love in our own lives. For, if we are willing to throw our hearts wide open at such moments, we suddenly comprehend that we ourselves are participants in that love. It is then that our human relationships become radiant and illumined, the sacred chalice from which we can sip of the love that is truly divine.
Appreciate the Moment
This moment, this day, this relationship, and this life are all exquisite, unique, and unrepeatable. There will be no moment exactly like this one (the yellow light spilling in through the thin white louvers on the window, the sound of the men at work in the street and, in the living room, of the pages of the newspaper turning). There will be no day that repeats precisely the sweet events of this day (the waking and sleeping, the beautiful dreams before waking, the precious and, even, the ordinary conversations, the clothes you have chosen to wear, and the way that today you are wearing them, the way the wind is today, clattering the shutters, scattering the leaves, the thoughts—all sixty thousand of them—that have passed like bright kites through your mind).
There will be no love, no dearly beloved, exactly like this one (the man who pronounces your name in just such a way, with his beautiful voice, the man who brings flowers, whose words move your heart so tremblingly softly, whose arms hold you this way and that way, embracing, consoling, protecting; the woman whose fragrance enchants you, whose head on your chest when you sleep is the sweet weight of bliss, whose kisses are blessings, whose laughter is sunlight, whose smile is pure grace).
There will be no lifetime exactly like this one, no other, not ever again, not this birth, not this particular story, this mother and father, these houses and walls, these strangers and friends—and how we moved through it all, with such beauty, touching each other, dancingly stepping, curtsying, bowing across all the stages, filling the rooms of our lives with this joy, this sweet love....
There will be no other way to live this life, only the way you have chosen to live it, only the way that, moment by moment, you fill up its houses and cradles and baskets, its cupboards and drawers—with which beautiful things, what small scraps and treasures—and only the way that you fill up your heart—with what feelings, which lovely emotions—and the memory of her standing there, in the light, by the window, her blonde hair in sunlight ... and the image of him standing there and saying, "always, forever, till death do us part"—and your mind—with what words, which endlessly coddled concerns, what difficult puzzles and brilliant solutions, what emptiness ... waiting for God.
This moment, this day, this relationship, this life are all unique, exquisite, unrepeatable. Live every moment as if you, indelibly, knew this.
Aspire To A Spiritual Relationship
To have a spiritual relationship is to consciously acknowledge that above all we are spiritual beings and that the process of our spiritual refinement is our true undertaking in this life. When you have a spiritual relationship, you choose to embody this truth in love. You shift context and focus. Whereas an emotional relationship has as its focus the contents of the relationship itself, a spiritual relationship sees the spirit's well-being and the soul's journey as its overriding undertaking. Whereas the romantic relationship operates in time, the spiritual union has timeless infinity as its context. Rather than framing itself in life on earth, it knows that we are all far more than we appear to be, and it joy-fully claims as its territory a cosmos that radiates and scintillates, that includes an infinity of angels, and all the stunning coincidental events that are the mysterious instruments of God.
When you love one another in spirit, along with loving, desiring, cherishing, adoring, and protecting your beloved, you will also be the champion of your beloved's spiritual well-being, ensuring that she will make the choices that will allow for her soul's evolution. This may mean creating a quiet environment in which your spirits can flourish, or doing those things—meditating, praying, throwing away the television set—that will encourage a reunion of your souls.
To have an intimate relationship that is also spiritual defies our Western ordinary thinking, for, in a spiritual relationship, we are not seeking the satisfactions of the ego in a conventional way. Instead, we are aware that we are spirits and that we are on the spirit's journey.
The spiritual relationship is gracious, easy, considerate, and kind. Because it has stepped off the merry-go-round of ego concerns, it can be generous and patient, can behold the beloved not just as a person doing this or that, but as a soul on a journey. For, to the spiritually beloved, there is always a sense of this greater focus. Because of it, each action and experience takes on a different coloration. The disappointments of the moment and even the tragedies of a lifetime are seen not as happenings which are absolutes in themselves but finite, irritating specks on the larger screen of vision.
A great spiritual love does not exclude the psychological and physical—in any spiritual relationship the partners will always support each other in these realms with healing and attention—but when you love one another in the spirit, your love will also be a reminder of the infinite context, the true destination. Remembering this will give your love an exalted, crystalline, and truly luminous quality. For if your emotional relationship is a jewel, your spiritual relationship is the light that shines through it.
When we think of being with one another emotionally, we ordinarily think of empathizing with one another in times of pain or misery. While it's certainly true that in our sufferings we have a great need for empathy, we also need positive empathy—rejoicing—a delighted feeling with and for all our joys.
Rejoicing is feeling joy, allowing the feelings of exhilaration and delight to enter your being and fill you with a fine, ecstatic sense of celebration. We all need to rejoice, to slather ourselves with exultation, because life is hard; and at times our paths are very difficult. We need to rejoice because joy is our true state of being; and when we rejoice, we return to joy for a moment. We need to rejoice because there isn't enough rejoicing in the world. And we need to rejoice together because, in this world of self-involvement and nonstop competition, it's often hard to find a kindred soul with whom to rejoice.
Rejoicing is empathy at the encouraging end of the spectrum; and, although you may think it's easier to rejoice than to commiserate with someone, rejoicing, too, can be difficult. As a matter of fact, a lot of people feel so defeated in their own lives that instead of being able to celebrate with anyone else, they feel jealousy or self-pity. Indeed, unless you've really been able to feel your own joy, you may have a difficult time rejoicing, even with your beloved.
Excerpted from A Lifetime of LOVE by DAPHNE ROSE KINGMA. Copyright © 1998 Daphne Rose Kingma. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.