Read an Excerpt
To have loved alone will not suffice
Unless we also have been wise
And have our loves enjoyed.
Love is the possibility of possibilities.
Its farthest reach is beyond us, no matter how long we love or how much. It will always remain the mute mystery to whose ecstasy and ache we can only surrender with a yes. There is something cheerful and plucky in us that lets us risk a journey into the labyrinth of love, no matter how hazardous. However, all the love in the world will not bring us happiness or make a relationship work. That requires skill, and this skill is quite attainable. Practice can make us nimble enough to dance together with grace, however bashful we maybe at the beginning.
Love is experienced differently by each of us, but for most of us five aspects of love stand out. We feel loved when we receive attention, acceptance,
appreciation, and affection, and when we are allowed the freedom to live in accord with our own deepest needs and wishes. These "five A's" meet us in different guises throughout life's journey. In childhood, we need these five A's to develop self-esteem and a healthy ego. They are building blocks of identity, of a coherent human personality. Human experience has a striking and reliable harmony: What we need for the building of a self is also precisely what we need for happiness in our adult love relationships. Intimacy, at its best, means giving and receiving the five A's, the joys and wealth of relationship. These five elements or aspects of love also describe our destiny of service to the world as mature spiritual beings. Great spiritual exemplars such as Jesus or Buddha can be seen as beings who offer this fivefold love to all of us. Through our spiritual practice we come to know a power greater than our ego, and that power nourishes us by granting us the graces of attention,
acceptance, appreciation, affection, and allowing.
This is a touching and encouraging synchronicity built into our very being. The five
A's are simultaneously the fulfillment of our earliest needs, the requirements of adult intimacy and of universal compassion, and the essential qualities of mindfulness practice. In the splendid economy of human and spiritual development, the same keys open all our evolutionary doors.
the five A's come to us as gifts in childhood. They are then bestowed by us as gifts to others. They are not the result of effort but are the automatic overflow of love we receive. We do not have to try; we simply notice that we are attentive, appreciative, etc., toward those we love. The same applies to compassion. It is a spiritual gift, a grace bestowed on us as a result of mindfulness practice. It is not a task. We
in and through us as we become more mindfully present in the world. This compassion is shown by the five A's that are now five graces we receive and give.
Is there a way to increase our capacity to give and receive these essential elements of love? Yes, we can do it through mindfulness, an alert witnessing of reality without judgment, attachment, fear, expectation, defensiveness, bias,
or control. Through compassionate mindfulness we become adept at granting the essential components of love to everyone— even to ourselves—and in the pages that follow I will keep returning to mindfulness as a fast track to successful love.
This book discusses each of the five A's and how they apply to childhood,
relationships, and spiritual maturity. It also suggests practices that can help you in resolving childhood issues, in creating happier relationships, and in becoming more spiritually conscious and compassionate. Indeed, the practices are stirred by a spiritual ambition with higher stakes: a more loving you, with the world as your beneficiary.
All this entails taking a journey together—a heroic one because it involves pain and forces you to shift from a focus on ego to a focus on facing the risks of life together. This book walks you along that path, providing the kind of gear you will need to camp out together safely and enjoyably. We will use both
Western psychological tools and Eastern and Western spiritual practices, not graduating from one to the other but employing them simultaneously. The main psychological tools are working through personal and childhood conundrums with a commitment to identify, process, and resolve issues so that you may change and grow. The spiritual tools are letting go of ego, increasing mindfulness,
and cultivating an ethic of compassion. We achieve mindfulness when reality takes precedence over our ego. That is why mindfulness leads to intimacy, the mutual egoless gift of love. Couples with a spiritual practice have a greater serenity in their life together and increase their chances for happiness and longevity in their relationships.
relationship can force us to revisit every feeling and memory in the legend of ourselves. In our psychological work of addressing, processing, and resolving emotional blocks and problems, we pay attention to feelings, explore their implications, and hold them until they change or reveal a path that leads deeper into ourselves. In our spiritual practice of mindfulness, something very different occurs. We let feelings or thoughts arise and let go of them. We do not process them, nor do we hold them. Each of these approaches has its proper time, and we need both of them. Paying attention and letting go are the twin tools that will be presented throughout these pages. Therapy without mindfulness takes us only to the point of resolving our predicament.
Mindfulness with therapy helps us to dissolve the ego that got us into it in the first place.
The heroic journey is a metaphor for the yearning in the human soul for something that can repair and restore what has been broken or lost in our limited world.
The journey of the hero or heroine involves first a leaving of the familiar,
then a passage through struggle to a new place, and finally a return home with the gift of higher consciousness that is available to all who want it. Two people find each other in romance and oppose each another in conflict, only to engage finally in a life commit-ment to one another. It seems we cannot love maturely unless we go through the full itinerary of just such a risky expedition. But this Western metaphor is incomplete without mindfulness.
In short, we need to get up and go, but we also need to sit and stay.
By taking a journey without meditation and silence, we might fall prey to a restricting and extroverted activism. By practicing meditation without a sense that we are on a journey, we might fall prey to an introverted quietism. The
Eastern voice tells us we are already here. The Western voice calls us to go out in order to get here fully. We arrive nowhere and are nowhere without that combination. Buddha did not sit forever but went out into the world to spread the word. Jesus did not preach and heal every day but sometimes sat in the desert alone.
The human heart holds much more love than it can ever disburse in one lifetime.
This book suggests a program for activating that abundant potential. Intimate love is enigmatic and demanding; many of us fear it while still craving it.
Thus, it definitely requires an extensive manual. This book explores the tender and scary territories of our psyche and blazes a path through them. It is not too late or too long for any of us.
am writing as a psychotherapist on a Buddhist path and as a man with a checkered relationship history. I have met with many problems but have found some ways to deal with them. I have discovered that they are not bottomless pits but portals to a richer life. My accent in this book is necessarily on how we get stuck and how things go wrong. But you can also trust me to show ways to make things work better and ways the whole experience can make us better people and create a better world.
Enlightenment can only be embodied in the world by people who love one another. So relationships are not about how two people can survive each other but about how the whole world becomes more capable of love, with all its dim anguish and glowing rapture. The work and practice I recommend here are not aimed at making your life together smoother but at helping you relate to its inevitable roughness with humor, ease, and generosity. An untamed ego cannot pull that off. Only an awakened heart can do it. Then intimacy is best approached on a spiritual path. As a bonus, our limited personal work can heal the wider world.
I What will it take for me to find the happiness I always wanted?
hope this book will pose poignant questions like these and help you answer them:
I feel loved the way I always wanted to be loved?
What will it take for me to let go of the past?
I learn to protect my own boundaries, insist that others honor them, and honor those of others?
I ever let go of the need to control?
I ever dare to love with all my heart?
This whole book is a letter from me to you. I am eager to share with you what I have learned from clients, friends, and my own life. At the same time, the book will elicit information from you, not just give information
The truths of love and how it works are deeply and enduringly known by you and every person. My part has only been to type into this Apple the wisdom that came to me from Eden and its exiles.