Sunny Qureshi

CEO, IQ Training & Consultancy

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Can we get "Unconditional Love" from people not related? (other than siblings, parents or wife)

I was wondering why dont we get unconditional love from people not related. Siblings or parents are in fact spiritually connected while friends and acquaintances will love you for ECONOMICAL or Conditional reasons even in the most advanced nations, why is that?? Or Is it sometimes the opposite?

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    Feb 28 2012: As humans, we are limited in our ability to love others--even those we're related to. To love unconditionally, must be supernaturally strengthened by connecting to the divine. We're able to love unconditionally once we're connected and fully surrounded to the God who so unconditionally loves us.
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      Feb 28 2012: Hi Yawa,
      We are only as limited as we think we are. As humans, we are multi dimentional, multi sensory beings, and can love unconditionally whether or not we embrace a belief in a particular god. If you believe that only those who embrace a god are unconditionally loving, it sounds like you limit yourself and others regarding who can truly experience unconditional love. You put conditions on unconditional love?
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        Feb 28 2012: Actually, Colleen, what Yawa is expressing is that when we understand the unconditional love of God (as evidenced through Jesus Christ) our minds are opened to the incredible power of that love, and we then have a clear example of how to give fully of ourselves without expecting anything in return.

        This is not putting limits on unconditional love - it is just an understanding of our limitations as humans, and how by our humility we draw strength from a source greater than ourselves. Yes, humans can love unconditionally without beleiving in a God; however, the example of His sacrifice for us is indeed the supreme example of unconditional love - and those who come to unconditional love through that example are truly blessed and are able to be blessings to others.
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          Feb 28 2012: And I believe Verble, that our minds and hearts can be open to unconditional love whether or not we embrace a certain god or religious belief. I am open to the incredible power of unconditional love, I feel very clear about how to give fully of myself without expectations, and I do not embrace a particular god or religious belief.

          Are you saying that the unconditional love I experience is not as valuable as your unconditional love because of our religious beliefs, or lack of religious beliefs? In my perception Verble, these are the kinds of beliefs that seperate people, rather than bringing people together, so I don't agree with you on this one:>)
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        Feb 28 2012: Hello Colleen, we are actually in more agreement than you may believe. There is no difference in unconditional love. Unconditional love it the greatest, the highest form of love that anybody can experience. There are no gradations. If love is not unconditional then it is simply another type of love.

        We are built to love. We are built to show love and to experience love. I am only humbly stating that the example demonstrated by Jesus Christ is the greatest example (or model, if you will). We choose whether to live by this example or not, and i would never be so presumptuous as to say that a person who does not accept this model is incapable of showing unconditional love. But I will always state that what happened on that tree on that mound of dirt two millenia ago IS the greatest example.

        But what Yawa so eloquently answered in her post was that by this acceptance, is is possible to draw directly from the source of unconditional love in order to fill ourselves up so much with love that we can then flow it out to others, thereby answering the original question in the Great Affirmative.
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          Feb 29 2012: I agree Verble, that there is no difference in unconditional love regardless of what we believe that source to be. I, for example, learned it from my mother. She was the one who opened the channels in my heart and mind to be able to give and recieve unconditional love. I agree that we are meant to love. I also believe that we are meant to accept (love) others without prejudice.

          Honestly Verble, I percieve the example of Jesus Christ sacrificing his life as similar to suicide bombers. They too, are sacrificing their lives for the people, for the glory of god, and for a better stop in heaven. Same thing the catholic church tried to teach me about the prophet Jesus for 12 years!!!

          I respect you and your belief that "what happened on that tree on the mound of dirt two millenia ago IS the greatest example" of whatever you believe it to be.

          My only point, is that a belief in Jesus Christ, god, or what happened millenia ago, is not the only belief or perspective that can guide us toward unconditional love. I believe my mother's life, lived with integrity, acceptance and unconditional love for all people was the greatest example...for me. And many people have their own "greatest examples" of how, why, when, where and with whom they connect with the source of unconditional love:>)

          When you, I, or anyone else believes that his/her connection to unconditional love is the one and only, then we seperate ourselves, thereby preventing filling ourselves up so much with love that we can flow with it. If we have cut off people because their belief is not our belief, we prevent the flow of unconditional love.

          I presume "the original question" you refer to is..."Can we get "Unconditional Love" from people not related?".
          Yes, I agree...we can get and recieve unconditional love from many sources when/if the heart and mind are open to that possibility:>)
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        Feb 28 2012: Verble, thanks for sharing your perspectives, you and I are definitely on the same page!
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    Feb 27 2012: I always wonder about the concept of "unconditional love". Does it really exist? Is it healthy to love someone or something unconditionally? I understand that parents can have conditional love for their children and siblings may have unconditional love for one another - but what happens when you genuinely dislike the person? Are you still obliged to have unconditional love for them - a parent, child, or sibling even though you genuinely don't like them?

    I actually struggle with this issue as a new coach. Coaches are supposed to have 'unconditional positive regard' for the client. I quickly began to realize - there were just some clients I did not like as people. It made it nearly impossible for me to coach them because I was too busy holding up a mirror to them trying to show them that being a 'jerk' was the fundamental cause of their problems vs. allowing them to work through their own solutions.

    I find the concept of unconditional love/positive regard curious. There are just some people in this world (whether they are relatives, coaching clients, or something else) that you ain't gonna love, like, or have much positive regard for. Its best to just acknowledge that and move on.
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      Feb 27 2012: not that i have any hard position on the issue, but.

      we have a philosopher/poet who wrote the following, in my rough translation:

      "love should be not like a string that attaches to people. it should be like warmth coming from a stove. it should radiate more on those who are closer, and less on those who are farther."

      i'm not sure whether it is a good idea. but it seems like another kind of love. maybe worth considering?
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        Feb 27 2012: I like that Krisztián,

        It seems like the statement..."love should be not like a string that attaches to people", reflects something simiilar to what I'm saying regarding attachment/expectations?
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      Feb 27 2012: Hi Robin,
      That is a great question...does unconditional love really exist? I believe that it does, and I think/feel that it is often misunderstood.

      You ask..."Is it healthy to love someone or something unconditionally?"
      I believe it is very healthy. Unconditional love, to me, means loving without expectations. It means giving whatever we choose to give without expecting anything in return.

      That being said, I think/feel it is also important to know what we want to give unconditionally, why, when, where and to whom. I love all people unconditionally as fellow human beings who share this earth. That does not mean I give of myself in the same way to everyone. Unconditional love of all human beings, to me, means respect, compassion, empathy for all. Sometimes, I don't particularly LIKE the person or his/her behavior. Sometimes, I don't respect the behavior, but I respect and have compassion/empathy for the person who is a fellow evolving human being...make any sense?

      To do this, we need to seperate the behavior from the person, and that is sometimes difficult to do. Luckily, my mom taught me this as a child. She always said about my abusive violent father...love the man...hate the behavior...he doesn't know how to love or be loved. So, I learned to have compassion for that person who did not know how to love, or treat people with respect. I did not love his behavior.

      It's ok if you do not like certain things about some clients. Perhaps you can respect them and have compassion/empathy for them? That, to me, is what unconditional love is.
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      Feb 27 2012: Robin,
      I just thought of something that might help you deal with your feelings about your clients. I volunteered with the dept. of corrections for about 6 years, facilitating different programs with offenders, including "cognitive self change" sessions. A lot of these guys were hardened criminals, who commited some pretty terrible crimes against humanity. Some of the guys were difficult to "like" when considering what they had done to get themselves in jail.

      As a facilitator, I had access to their files, and usually read about their background so I would have an idea of who/what I was dealing with before they closed and locked that metal door behind me and the offender. There were always guards watching through the window, but you never know!

      Anyway, reading the files gave me a lot of information about why they were there...not just the obvious, but many things we might never know about people. Like the really tough guy, who was sexually molested by family members from the time he was 2 years old....sent to several foster homes where he was sexually molested again by the foster fathers...on and on....and on. He started living a life of crime as a child...stealing to support himself so he wouldn't have to go back to his home of origin, or the foster home....trying to be indepentant, so he didn't have to depend on people who were misusing and abusing him. That's what he learned as a child, and the crimes continued.

      None of his story is explaination or justification for his crimes. None of his story makes the victims feel any better. What it did, was help me have compassion/empathy for this guy, which allowed me to reach out to him and possibly change his perception of life? I don't know for sure...I had no expectations....we can only try. My point is, we all have different stories, and some are not very encouraging or supportive of a peaceful life journey. If/when we can remember this, it may help with the people we interact with? Just a thought:>)
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        Feb 28 2012: Perhaps I struggle with people's definition of love. The concept of love is different from person to person. What people are calling 'unconditional love' may be my definition of a healthy respect for humanity and forgiveness of past mistakes.

        I flinch when people talk about unconditional love because I have seen people abuse the concept. I know abused husbands/wives who claim unconditional love for their abusive spouse when (in my opinion) the person does not even deserve their respect or time a day.

        Is my love for a husband/partner conditional - hell yes it is. Its based on the condition of mutual love and respect. Once that premise no longer holds the person no longer has my unconditional love.

        Even for siblings/ parents. If my family did something absolutely despicable, I could no longer respect them. My definition of love has respect at the foundation - I couldn't love them. I totally understand people's statements that the world can only be cured with love - which often means loving the 'unlovable' but to be honest, I'm not so generous. And most humans aren't either.
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          Feb 29 2012: Robin,
          There definitely are many definitions and perceptions of love, and I percieve, by reading many of your comments, that you are a very insightful person, who will sift through information to discover your own truth about what love is.

          You refer to abusive relationships...
          I witnessed that with my parents, and also with my husband. I truly believed that if I loved him enough, we could have a mutually respectful relationship. What I discovered after years of trying to "make him happy" with encouragement, support and unconditional love, is that he was not willing, or capable of giving and recieving in the same way I was. I was expecting him to give me something that he could not/would not give for whatever reason. After 24 years, we divorced, and I continued to love him unconditionally, which did NOT unclude an intimate relationship or shared living situation.

          Interestingly enough, he started respecting me and was more emotionally supportive of me once we were seperated. When I let go of my expectations that he would give me unconditional love, then he gave me unconditional love! He has had another partner for 20 years, who he does NOT treat with kindness or respect.

          The point is, I let go of my expectations that this person COULD or WOULD love me in the way I wanted to be loved. When, after 24 years, I realized that I was jousting at windmills, I let go of the relationship, and let go of my expectations. My advice is that a person doesn't need to take 24 years to learn this...LOL:>)

          When we know ourselves, we know what we want in a relationship, and we know that we don't have to accept anything less. Sounds like you've already GOT that lesson Robin.

          Re: Family members:
          I have 7 siblings, 6 of whom are unconditionally loving, giving people. We have one sister, who is often argumentative, confrontational, and not enjoyable to be around. We love her unconditionally as a sister, and don't spend much time with her. We can unconditionally love from afar:>)
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      Feb 28 2012: great question robin, i suggest you read the life history of that nun the one that was in the movie (Dead Man walking) and other instances in life one can find unconditional love given by nuns and priets for DEATH ROW inmates. But the question is even this comes with a condtion, the nun or priest has a job as reflected in state laws for them to be present for the deathrow inmates, so wher is the unconditonal love here?
  • Feb 26 2012: Love is unconditional by definition, if we need any 'condition' for love, it's a deal.
    I truly believe, that if there is any purpose for us to be here, in this world , it is to learn to love.
    It's not that easy as it sounds :)
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      Feb 27 2012: Very true indeed, Natasha.
      You need to lose yourself to find yourself.
      The ego needs to be broken down to see your true and loving self, unfortunate mostly through all pain and suffering.
      • Feb 28 2012: Hi, Frans !

        Yes, saying ''it's not easy" I mean it's a way, a long life way to the 'death of ego '.
        Love is a verb...
        It's life, it's our little everyday choices and to make right ones we'd better make them from love.
        At least it works for me :)


        And as long we are asking " Can we GET..unconditional love...?" we are still in a wrong place, for love is not about getting but about giving and only about giving.

        Thank you !
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          Feb 28 2012: Natasha,
          You say..."it's not easy".
          I believe it is WAY easier to live a life with unconditional love. It is freeing, in my humble perception. Like you insightfully say Natasha, "it's our little everyday choices" that make the difference. How difficult is it to change our "little everyday choices"....it's really fun:>)

          If we look at something as a difficult struggle or not easy, that is exactly what we create in our lives. If we look at it as changing the little everyday choices, it may seem like an easier task....thanks for that reminder:>)
      • Feb 29 2012: Hi, Colleen !
        Thanks for your response !
        The same story again :) Generally I agree with what you said, or I like your answer, but it is not about my question...
        For me 'unconditional Love ' is like absolute Truth, which is not unrelated to 'my' truth, but it is not identical either.
        Absolute/unconditional love requires Christ/Cosmic consciousness.
        I am on board with Frans vision"when you have no life of your own because you exist through every living thing".
        I do think "it's not easy " :)
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          Feb 29 2012: You are absolutely right Natasha! I was busy agreeing with and appreciating your insightful statement
          ..."It's life, it's our little everyday choices and to make right ones we'd better make them from love. At least it works for me :)"

          I LOVE that Natasha:>)

          Your question actually is..." Can we GET..unconditional love...?" we are still in a wrong place, for love is not about getting but about giving and only about giving".

          I believe unconditional love to be about giving and recieving. When the channel for the flow of unconditional love is open, we can both give and recieve....in my humble perception and experience:>)

          I respect, accept and have unconditional love for you and your perception that "it's not easy". I believe that it is much easier and more enjoyable than the alternative, and that is simply my own perception based on my own experience:>)
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    Mar 5 2012: Continued reply to Ms. Linda Taylor ~~~~~~~
    To experience unconditional love we must first love ourselves. This is a prerequisite for love in all relationships and Ms. Colleen Steen has effectively explained this aspect. To love us, we must first accept ourselves. We must accept us with all our abilities and disabilities; accept our beauty and ugliness; accept our jealousy, greed, perverseness, fear and every other thing we have been pushing under the carpet of our mind. Once we learn to ‘love’ most other difficulties we have been facing will disappear by themselves. We can make a beginning to find the source deep down in each one of us, the gate to the eternal love that can never be blemished by any condition that is happening in the mind or the world outside.
    Unconditional love can happen only in us and not in the other persons involved. There is also no need for it as once we are unconditionally loving, the actions or responses of others are irrelevant to us.

    This is a response to all your comments. It is still only an introduction to unconditional love so that from now we may continue to discuss in agreement with Colleen and others.

    With love and respects to you.
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      Mar 5 2012: As you insightfully reinforce CK, loving ourselves unconditionally is a prerequisite for love in all relationships. We are often taught that love of ourselves is selfish. We've sometimes been taught that to give to others is noble, holy, and the prefered way to "be" in our world.

      To truly experience a deep level of unconditional love, it is important to accept ourselves...beauty, ugliness, jealousy, greed, perverseness, abilities, disabilities,fear, joy, and every other "part" of us. To discover ourselves "deep down", as you say, is on the path to unconditional love.

      Accepting ourselves does not mean that we automatically accept all behaviors. It means that in knowing ourselves, we have the opportunity to keep those feelings, thoughts, ideas, opinions and behaviors that we choose to keep, and let go of that which is not beneficial to ourselves and/or the whole.

      I agree CK that once we know ourselves on the level you speak of, the actions or responses of others are irrelevant to us.
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        Mar 5 2012: Thank you, Colleen. The “level at which I speak’ may appear impractical. I spoke about such a level because unconditional love is difficult to practice. However, it is decidedly much possible for anyone to live in a relaxed and satisfying manner irrespective of indifferent or uncaring partners and friends. Acceptance is one of the helpful prctices.

        What I mean by accepting the bad and ugly in ourselves is to acknowledge that, yes, it is there in ourselves. At that point, no further action is needed such as deciding to keep the good and hoping to throw out the rest. As an example, imagine a lady who has a habit of overspending whenever she goes for shopping, and later lying to her husband to hide the extra expense. In practice, I am outlining she is expected to accept that she has such a bad trait. Once she does that she may surprisingly find herself capable of accepting the habit of her husband lying about the exact number of drinks he has had. More and more acceptance will lead to more and more unconditional acceptance.

        A lady had commented about the pain in being treated as a door mat. In my opinion that could be avoided if she also accepts that she is doing nothing to prevent such abuse. Her own inaction is augmenting the unjust treatment given to herself.

        I appreciate your observations and comments.

        My repects and love to you.
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          Mar 5 2012: CK,
          So, you are suggesting that "unconditional acceptance" is much like compromise?

          Re: The door mat scenario:
          I agree that we often accept behaviors when we "do nothing to prevent such abuse". Our own inaction enables the behavior to continue.

          Thinking about your examples, reminds me that it is good to compromise and be unconditionally accepting until/unless that acceptance causes us to feel less accepting of ourselves? If our unconditional acceptance is imbalanced in a relationship, then it is not mutually unconditionally loving. That is why I feel it is important to know ourselves and know exactly what we will accept, and not accept.

          I appreciate, respect and love you too:>)
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        Mar 6 2012: just beautiful colleen
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    Mar 2 2012: To be in unconditional love, the separateness between two individual has to disappear. It has to be realized that being two entities is an illusion and on a deeper level both are connected. In that experience of oneness instead of the 'twoness', there is no space for conditions
    • Mar 2 2012: What a wonderful insight on unconditional love..............may I add it to my list of quotes?

      A spirit of cooperation is very powerful indeed. Unity is missing from life today, because a spirit of competition exists...............as an old saying goes..........."divide and conquer".

      Thank you Mr. Kumar!!
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        Mar 3 2012: Thank you Mary. You may use it as you wish. love and respects to you.
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      Mar 2 2012: Oh Yes dear CK!
      When we recognize that we are all connected...more the same than different, how can we NOT be unconditionally loving? We are like mirrors to each other reflecting back and forth all the time...exchanging energy. When we realize this, it is as you say...there is no space for conditions:>) Conditions are a blockage to the experience of unconditional love:>)
      • Mar 5 2012: Colleen,

        I just found your comment. I did not know you had replied.

        Yes, of course I agree with you.

        And, yes, the women obviously do not love themselves.....I just can't understand it.......as in... "it doesn't fit inside my head......I cannot wrap my head around it......." Your experience is very touching, I have read it several times throughout my time here on TED. Thank you for sharing it once again.

        Obviously the easiest person to fool is ourselves.

        Thank you for replying.....in life we sometimes build our house of integrity with bricks others throw at us.......and sometimes, after the house is built, someone can come and break it, and we stoop and build it up again with worn-out tools (like R. Kipling mentions in his poem IF).

        Unconditional love requires sacrifice to give......and it can come from anyone.....but the first person we really have to love is ourself....I think we all agree on that.

        Be Well Colleen......Mary
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          Mar 5 2012: Dear Mary,
          There are a lot of stories we simply "just can't understand" because we have not walked in the shoes of the people who have had some experiences. That is why I believe it to be importnat to open our hearts and minds to love unconditionally. We don't know for sure what challenges people face every single day....there is so much we do not know! There are many stories that "do not fit inside" our heads, as you insightfully say.

          I share my experiences because I can. I have walked many paths throughout this life experience, and I believe that by sharing our stories, we connect more and more with each other. Connecting more with each other facilitates unconditional love.....there is a method to my madness!!! LOL:>)

          When we "build our house" with our own integrity/bricks, it is strong...like the mighty oak in the middle of the storm.

          IF is one of my favorites....
          IF you can keep your head when all about you
          Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
          If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
          But make allowance for their doubting too;
          If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
          Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
          Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
          And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
          If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
          If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
          If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
          And treat those two impostors just the same;
          If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
          Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
          Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
          And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

          If you can make one heap of all your winnings
          And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
          And lose, and start again at your beginnings
          And never breathe a word about your loss;
          If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
          To serve your turn long after they are gone,
          And so hold on when there is nothing in you
          Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'...............
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      Mar 4 2012: Quoting you:"To be in unconditional love, the separateness between two individual has to disappear". Unquote
      For separateness to disappear relation comes into play... i wonder the question still remains unanswered that is receiving this unconditional love from un-related people? in a era of egoism , that is not a possiblility, in the subcontinent or far east the cast system still prevails thus stopping uncondtional love, the only way forward is to remove the cast system i guess!!
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        Mar 4 2012: Expecting to receive unconditional love from others itself is a condition. To ‘be’ in love unconditionally with another person is a spiritual state. It is an experience. Kindly try to contemplate on that state and you would realize it is not an easy task. To love number of people unconditionally is to be in compassion as we have seen in Buddha and Christ.

        Yes, the caste and all other systems by which we have divided ourselves will have to go. To have a society that would love each other is perhaps a dream but an ideal dream to motivate each one of us to contribute towards it.
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          Mar 4 2012: CK,
          Everything starts with a dream:>)

          I agree that expecting to receive unconditional love from others is a condition. When we truly love unconditionally, there are no expectations. There may be preferences, likes and dislikes, but no expectations.

          I also agree that we recognize unconditional love of many people (everyone) with respect, compassion, empathy. I believe these to be the underlying qualities and the foundation for unconditional love, which can be shared with everyone. I experience unconditional love as easier, and more natural than the alternative:>)
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      Mar 4 2012: When separateness between two people disappears it becomes a toxic relationship. Unconditional love is when someone loves you enough to realize that and leaves you because of it. Unconditional love is when someone loves you enough that they want the best for you even if it is not the best for them.
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        Mar 4 2012: Are you referring to the identity of two people as separate individuals ? The individuality of each ? That is part of our ego. In the spiritual level, those identities disappear as they are only our illusions
        .
        Someone leaving you so that you may live better is not unconditional love. It is a sacrifice by the other person. It is an end. It has no continuity. Love is ongoing. It is an experience of our being (self) Love can never get toxic as our minds cannot reach and contaminate it. Love comes from our heart.
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          Mar 4 2012: Unconditional love simply means love without conditions. There are no ifs. If you do this I will love you. If this happens I will love you. If is the operative word.

          Loving someone unconditionally means there are no ifs. Most relationships are built around ifs. If you are faithful I will love you. If you make me happy I will love you. It's how it works.

          Love is not in your heart, it's in your brain. Love is just an emotion and as such it is mediated by hormones. And as humans, our default setting is to use emotions to manipulate other people. It is rare that we rise above that. Sacrifice is one way.

          http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19232-did-emotions-evolve-to-push-others-into-cooperation.html
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          Mar 4 2012: Linda,
          Is it unconditional love that is "mediated by hormones"? Or is it attraction that is mediated by hormones?

          I agree that emotions are sometimes used to manipulate others. What happens when we are aware of this, and choose another "default setting"? Do you believe we can change the dynamic of relationships by letting go of the "IFs", which are usually expectations and manipulations? I believe we have that choice:>)
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          Mar 4 2012: Of course Colleen. I think it is well worth striving against our defauts:) I think it is worthy and we should work towards it. I have one relationship that I can say is truly unconditional. It is because I have that one, I understand what it is not. Because I have that one, I would like to have more. But the only way to survive unconditional love is to have someone unconditionally love you back and that is even rarer. Because when you unconditionally love, the default of others is to take. You are meeting their need. If they do not give back, you can be destroyed. I think the term in our country is door mat.

          Oh and it was emotions that are hormonally mediated. All emotions are hormonally mediated. Simple biology.

          @C K. Don't you understand that someone leaving you so you can live better is unconditional love? Your condition of them staying outlines the condition for love.
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          Mar 4 2012: I don't agree Linda, that "the only way to survive unconditional love is to have someone unconditionally love you back..."

          We can love unconditionally regardless of what another person chooses. As soon as we believe that the only way we can have unconditional love is to be loved, we are giving it conditions.

          I agree that sometimes when we love inconditionally, people will use our vulnerability to "take". That is why we need to be clear about what we are willing to give to whom. Loving unconditionally does not mean we give of ourselves in the same way to everyone. It mean we know ourselves well enough to be sure about what we will give to whom.

          To me, unconditional love for everyone is a foundation of respect, compassion, and empathy. From that foundation, we make choices in each moment regarding how, why, when, where and with whom we will give more of ourselves...make any sense?

          We need also to love ourselves unconditionally, which means taking care of ourselves. If we don't meet our own needs first, we cannot meet anyone else's need. We cannot give to others, something we don't honestly have in ourselves, for ourselves.

          That being said, if someone doesn't "give back" to us we don't need to feel "destroyed". We simply recognize that s/he cannot or will not give and recieve in the same way...make any sense?

          If we feel like a "door mat", I think/feel it is because we are not taking care of ourselves, as well as we are trying to take care of someone else.
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          Mar 4 2012: I think you do a fabulous job of describing love. But there are a lot of ifs in your description. I mean literally.

          Unconditional love is rare. When you do it you can be destroyed. Been there. And I do not mean feel destroyed. I mean be destroyed. Where you don't even remember who you are. That is why it is not something to be taken lightly.

          The interesting thing is that it does not go away. It is always there. That whole destroyed thing - is the exact same relationship.

          I think its really tough to describe and I think it may be related to the language we are discussing it in. In English we only have one word for love. Because I think we actually agree but are discussing two different phenomena.
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          Mar 4 2012: Dear Linda,
          It feels like you are very close in time to the situation which caused you to feel "destroyed"?
          If so, my heart and unconditional love go out to you. I do not take it lightly at all. To me, to love unconditionally, is a very important part of the life journey, and I take it very seriously.

          You may be right...we may be discussing two different phenomena, and I am glad to discuss whatever phenomena you would like to discuss if you help me understand what phenomena that is.
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          Mar 5 2012: Colleen I like your version of unconditional love. You love yourself first and then love everyone else. It is a balanced way to move in the world. I would not call that unconditional love but I do like it better.

          Interesting about the perception of close in time. It was more than 30 years ago. That's how profound it can be. Live laugh and love.
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          Mar 5 2012: Yes Linda,
          Remember what the foundation of my unconditional love is...respect, compassion, empathy. There was a time when I thought someone would give those gifts to me...I hoped, wished, expected a person to give that to me. I finally realized that I cannot expect anyone to give me something I cannot, or would not give myself.

          Our experiences can be very profound, and impact our entire lives....thanks for sharing that Linda.
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        Mar 5 2012: Linda,
        It looks to me that you focus the idea of love to much on the sexual relationship.
        I've seen good relationship that weren't love at all but a good deal. As both find themselves happy with it it’s good for the time being.
        Love has to do with any relationship and as Colleen mentions it starts with how you may love yourself.
        Love is to see the most precious in all life and living and to appreciate beauty where it shows. They're all of your creation and not visible for individuals that are disconnected from their hearts, those we call depressive.

        What the heart holds is what we meet in life.
        • Mar 5 2012: "Linda,
          It looks to me that you focus the idea of love to much on the sexual relationship."


          Yes Frans....look how she says it herself:

          "I think we actually agree but are discussing two different phenomena."

          But she really does make a good point about romantic love. Her comment is based on her life experience, and so it is noteworthy.

          Alot of sacrifice is involved in unconditional love.......there is no denying it. I have seen it.

          What I think happens is that many times, this so called sacrifice, especially in romantic relationships, comes from those who truly do not understand what love is.

          Women have told me, I love him unconditionally, and then stay in relationships that are abusive. I do not understand this.

          That is why, the answer to the question at hand, is a resounding YES...unconditional love, as most of us here understand, can come from anyone, family or not.

          Your comments are very insightful, as are Colleen's. Thank you once again
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          Mar 5 2012: Mary,
          You write..."Women have told me, I love him unconditionally, and then stay in relationships that are abusive. I do not understand this".

          This happens because the piece that is missing is unconditional love (respect, compassion, empathy) for OURSELVES.

          I speak from my own experience, and based on working with abused women for years. I gave unconditional love to my partner for 24 years...always giving HIM what he needed and wanted and truly believed that he might someday treat me with respect and kindness. I believed that if I loved him enough, he would see the joy and pleasure of unconditional love, and we could have a mutually respectful relationship. As long as I believed that was a possibility, I gave unconditionally to him. I finally realized that I was depleting myself.

          As I expressed to a councelor toward the end of our relationship..."I feel like we are both trying to build our houses, and he keeps stealing my bricks...not only that, but I am giving him my bricks as well!" The metaphor of course, is that I was not paying attention to the fact that I was giving all my resourses to him in an effort to create a kind, respectful, loving relationship. That is where loving oneself comes into the picture. We cannot successfully give to someone else, something we do not have in ourselves.

          The other thing about abusive relationships is that we often repeat the same patterns as our parents for various reasons. My mother, for example, was in an abusive relationship for 65 years. When/if we know ourselves, respect, and have compassion (unconditional love) for ourselves, the likelhood of repeating the same behaviors is less. This could be a whole new discussion, and I'll try to stay on topic with unconditional love:>)
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          Mar 6 2012: Frans I love your insight. Unfortunately the one relationship I speak of never crossed to the physical domain. Interesting projection there. There is truth to what Mary points out as sacrifice. It may be the hallmark of what I was talking about.

          I think it is the Greeks who have at least three words for love. If I remember gradeschool they were eros, pathos, and agape. That's why I could agree with Colleen yet still be talking about something else. I truly like her description that you cannot unconditionally love others (agape) without loving yourself.

          I don't think an abusive relationship is the endpoint of what I was privileged to experience. And I do consider it a privilege. Destruction and all. A gift.

          So much more is involved in an abusive relationship that cannot be blamed on misapplied love. Even a well balanced person can go into a relationship and have it turn abusive and I don't have the expertise to comment.

          What I can say to tie together all of the above is that sometimes we have to go through an experience to get the lesson. I would never trade that experience. But I think the way to walk in the world is how Colleen has it framed.

          P.S. My sincere apologies to all Greek Tedsters if I got it wrong. The meaning came from the heart.
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      Mar 4 2012: I remember once as I discovered this truth how this changed my world.
      I worked for many years together with a colleague that wasn't really a harmonious relation. We didn't like each other much and that resulted from his part to a lot of jealousy and fanaticism.
      From the day I realized he was just another version of me his attitude changed completely.
      Without saying anything about it but just by this realization everything became different.
      We didn't become close friends but the cooperation was much more satisfactory and even joyful at times.
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        Mar 4 2012: Good story Frans,
        I agree that when we let go of our expectations, accept and love unconditionally, it encourages others around us to do the same. Letting go of our expectations, which often create a lot of "mind chatter", opens the channel for flowing unconditional love...the bases of which is respect, compassion and empathy....in my humble perception:>)

        I like how you discovered that "he was just another version of me". We are like mirrors reflecting back and forth all the time. Sometimes, those we don't particularly like are showing us something about ourselves, so in my perception, it's important to pay attention to the gift they may be giving me. We are more the same than different, and when we recognize this, we can experience unconditional love:>)
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        Mar 5 2012: I agree with Colleen. Sometimes what we find difficult to deal with in others is how accurately they project the personality traits that we don't like in ourselves. Reminds me of all the times my wife and I are driving bakc home from parties and I'm on about how some person just kept chatting away and hijacking the entire conversation and she will say "I just kept thinking how much they reminded me of you!"

        Colleen has hit on a very good point about opening ourselves to love by letting go of the expectation that they will reciprocate. Very poignant, indeed!
      • Mar 5 2012: @ Frans

        I so much agree with you on the incredible paradigm shift that occurs when we realize that what we dislike in others may help us learn alot about ourselves.

        Finding this truth is liberating, because it helps you to interact with others liberally.....without judgment....and a spirit of cooperation then exists......You are able to project kindness and expect nothing from the other individual.........When others see this in you what happens is they let down their guard and do not see you as a threat..............and then relationships can grow and flourish....and also it makes for better work environment at the place of employment. (Which by the way is a big problem today.....the "lack" of peace at the workplace...due to workplace bullying and mobbing)

        It doesn't mean that you will become friends with everybody...........but you will somehow get along with everybody and anybody, regardless of how they feel about you.

        Thank you Frans for sharing your experience.
  • Feb 27 2012: Hello Sunny,

    I got married because I fell in love with a man who had no connection with my family... (And I would not even have labelled him "my type of guy" at all, or anything.)
    If you manage to love as many people as possible during your life time, maybe even get to feel love and compassion for all humans, I believe you will have accomplished something great in your life.
    I would suggest you to look at Matthieu Ricard on Ted and the scientifical experience he was part of. He was ask to meditate on unconditional love and compassion... See what happened!
    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/matthieu_ricard_on_the_habits_of_happiness.html
    May you experience all you need in life.
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      Mar 6 2012: Thank you manue, but still as mentioned below by adrian & amy, for unconditional love to develop one must spend time togther like your case because you fell in love with a stranger and married him after spending time with each other isnt it? so out of the oblivion suddenly love doesn't happen i guess frm a complete stranger to another on the spot that is
      • Mar 7 2012: Dear Sunny,

        I think, we might want to make a clear distinction between:
        - unconditional love
        - attachment

        I love my kids unconditionally, and I have a very strong bond and I feel a very strong attachment for them.
        I love the human kind in a more detached way. I feel compassion for human beings. Even when people act badly, I have understood that they are not free, they have been conditioned by life, by genetics, they have not been loved at all, or not enough. I would recommend this video: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/jim_fallon_exploring_the_mind_of_a_killer.html

        Now, of course would anyone touch to my family, I would, on the spot, in extreme circonstances be able of even killing I believe to protect them.
        Can I say that I just love my family unconditionaly? Or should I say, I love my family no matter what plus, there is that something extra, something that makes the attachment very strong, and would make me do anything for my close oness? Are you talking about that other powerful feeling? Something more instinctive?

        I think that the whole question here is to define unconditional love really and see if that is all we are feeling for our family or if there is not this extra powerful attachment that cannot be defined as unconditional love.

        From what I understood about Buddhist philosophy for example, unconditional love does not require attachment. Monks are actually working on loving unconditionnaly in a detached way.

        What do you think? Are you talking about love with attachment? Or unconditional love that can be felt in a detached way?
        • Mar 7 2012: Your comment made me think of the quote: "You can love someone, without liking them"

          Love can help you see the good in others, and gives you empathy and many times pity for others........I think these are all interconnected.

          And, if you have knowledge to share with these individuals that can change them and make them happier, love can be the motivation behind your willingness to help them.

          I have even seen interviews, and know personally individuals who have met with those directly responsible for the death of one of their family members, and they have forgiven them for the crime. That takes alot of love and compassion.
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    Feb 27 2012: Anything that is given without expectations of getting something in return, is unconditional. When we have expectations, whatever we are giving is no longer unconditional. The important part of the question is not who we are giving to, or recieving from. The important part is whether or not we attach expectations or conditions to what we are giving/recieving. With that in mind, we can give, or recieve unconditionally with anyone.
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    Mar 6 2012: For unconditional acceptance it is necessary to spend time with that person! as was mentioned below by one of the members.
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      Mar 10 2012: Dear Sunny,
      I do not feel it is wise to measure the time spent with someone to determine the depth of unconditional love and acceptance. There are so many different levels of relationship, which all may have very different dynamics. To me, the quality of time spent with anyone is more important than quantity of time spent.

      When we know ourselves (respect, have compassion, empathy and acceptance for ourselves), we seem to connect faster with ALL people...in my experience:>) We project to the world what we have in our hearts, and with that projection, we often encourage others to connect in the same way. Of course, there are relationships in which we spend a lot of time...family, roommates, partners, special friends, etc. I believe we can connect very deeply with people we do not spend a lot of time with, and I have done that on many occasions.

      One beautiful relationship comes to mind:
      I was sitting next to a women in an airport...both our planes were delayed and we started chatting...for a couple hours...until our planes were taking off. We both connected immediately, enjoyed the interaction, exchanged address/phone numbers...I was going home to Vermont...she was going home to Texas.

      We exchanged several cards and letters in the next few weeks, then I sustained a near fatal head/brain injury. When I regained consciousness, there were several letters of encouragement and support from this person, as well as from many others....thankfully for me:>)

      She continued to call and send many inspiriational messages throughout my recovery. About a year later, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and was given only a couple months to live. She asked if I would be with her at the end, and I was...I spent one of her last weeks with her. I felt incredibly close to this person...she reminded me a lot of my mother, as she was an older women. The time we spent was precious, although technically not a lot of time.

      I am grateful to have many relationships like that:>)
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        Mar 17 2012: Dear colleen, just excellent, you really have a beautiful way of explaining things, i'm addin you to my list of favorite members
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          Mar 17 2012: Thank you so much for that feedback Sunny. I am honored:>)

          Words, thoughts, feelings, ideas, opinions and beliefs, like everything in life, are to be shared with kindness and respect...in my humble perception:>)
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    Mar 6 2012: I agree with your observation, Collen. The example I have given is misleading. I have not made the underlying principle apparent. I will elucidate on it.
    Imagine yourself in a situation where your partner asks you a certain amount of money as a loan. From your earlier experience, you doubt that your partner has no intention of giving it back to you ever. You are also aware that your vulnerability in such situations always worked negatively to yourself. Irrespective of this, you extend your help. The result is you feel cheated.
    As most people do, you later overcome this ill feeling with positive effort.
    Instead of that I suggest that you accept your vulnerability at that moment. Accept that, you have just been cheated. You accept that you are vulnerable. It is a quality that was in built in you by nature. That quality irrespective of being defective was your inheritance. In that seeing and with that acceptance, you stop condemning. You are not ashamed of it anymore as it is the truth and you are being honest. I assure you that “at that moment”, you will experience a joy. You will experience unconditional love to yourself. Anyone in relationship with you will become acceptable to you as you have stopped judging. You see dishonesty of your partner as his trait as what he has been given by nature.
    You are at peace. The conflict, the ill feeling, has disappeared. You have begun your journey in accepting all reality surrounding your life as they are and not as they are expected to be. You will begin to respond to situations rather than react to them..
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      Mar 6 2012: Dear CK,
      If I learned from past experiences that my partner was not dependable in a certin way, I would not expect anything different from him/her. If I am aware of a certain behavior, and realize that I feel vulnerable by participating in that endeaver, I would not participate.

      To me, that is exactly what the life journey is all about...learning as we move through the challenges. We cannot continue the same behaviors/responses/actions and reactions and expect different results. I agree that vulnerability is a natural quality which we can accept. I do not believe that it is necessary to stay in a continually vulnerable state to be unconditionally loving.

      I will not condemn anyone for cheating me, nor will I continue to participate in a relationship of that kind. The ability to learn is also a natural state of being. To me, being honest, means addressing the situation at hand, and being clear about what we will and will not accept.

      CK, I am unconditionally loving with myself, which is why I can be unconditionally loving with everyone. I also know what boundaries I choose for myself, and I am clear with myself, which allows me to respect and accept that in others as well:>)
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        Mar 6 2012: great again
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          Mar 7 2012: Thank you Sunny for your appreciation; however, I think that I have not been able to covey the full depth of the subject matter to other participants
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          Mar 7 2012: Thank you Sunny:>)

          CK...perhaps it is to be conveyed to you?
    • Mar 6 2012: This reminds me of a dear friend of mine. She is elderly. She is very vulnerable to those asking for help. Many times she will drive complete strangers home.

      I try to gently and tactfully help her see the danger is this. She always replies with a smile and says, I just cannot help it, it is the way I am. They seemed honest and sincere in their need, I just couldn't say no.

      There is an innocence about her. She sees the good in things always, and is at peace with this vulnerable part of her personality.

      It is quite remarkable to observe her in action.........your comment made me think of this.

      I think all of us have something of value to share with others, something we have "inherited" as you mention, may it sometimes include our vulnerabiity?

      This is fascinating.
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        Mar 6 2012: Mary,
        One thing that happens, when one is unconditionally loving, is that we can feel on many different levels. It actually opens the channels to recieve information on many more levels. Your friend may be secure in the choices she makes because of her awareness on different levels. We all have intuition and instinct, which many times we do not pay attention to. Unconditional love (acceptance, respect, compassion, empathy) allows us to open all channels to feeling and thinking, rather than having our world colored by allowing only certain information in our mind and heart.

        I have also put myself in circumstances that may not be recommended, because I "knew" in my heart that I was safe. Hopefully, your friend will continute to be safe as well Mary:>)
        • Mar 6 2012: Yes Colleen, I trust that she will be safe also.

          And like you, I also have put myself in situations that no other human around me
          dares to venture into. I just have this feeling that I can do it.

          Thank you Colleen for your reply.
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        Mar 6 2012: So Mary, perhaps when we are clear in ourselves and embrace unconditional love, there is no longer the feeling of vulnerability? That is what I experience in my own life:>)
        • Mar 6 2012: Yes Colleen, I think you are right.

          I understand your point of view perfectly. Once we know who we are, and also what we stand for, we can love others freely.......unconditionally, and we do not feel vulnerable.

          We no longer feel vulnerable because we are in "control" of what we do.

          I think if we have reached that level of insight, then we certainly can see when others are trying to manipulate us and take advantage of us.

          And we are able to lovingly and kindly express to them how we feel indirectly.....the person who is trying to take advantage of us should be able to see, that while we are loving and kind, we are no dummies...we are not vulnerable.

          I am not sure if I went too far in my explanation..............but I truly think loving people are sometimes viewed as "weak" and "vulnerable"...........it is not always the case.

          We are acting without interest......we are loving unconditionally.........that doesn't mean that we can be taken advantage of. These are two different things....do you understand what I am trying to say.............it is sometimes hard to explain things on line.

          We choose to love, because it is the best way of living. Don't you think so Colleen?
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        Mar 6 2012: Mary,
        I think/feel your explanation is GREAT!!! Yes, we choose to love unconditionally because it is more joyful and pleasurable than the alternative...in my humble perception. When we make that choice, I totally agree, that it frees us and those around us from feeling vulnerable:>)
        Well said Mary:>)
        • Mar 6 2012: The reply button is giving me headaches......so if this is doubled I will come back and erase.

          * * * * * * * * *

          Aaah, it's nice to be understood.

          Happy Tuesday!!
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        Mar 6 2012: Dear Mary,
        Dealing with the reply button is a good way to practice unconditional love and acceptance!!! LOL:>)

        Well, I made a joke, AND I'm also serious:>) If we practice acceptance of those things we cannot change on a simple, easy level, it starts to build our strength and confidence for other acceptance. I know you know this, I'm simply reminding you...so have a little fun and laughter with the reply button:>) Lavender oil, applied to the temples sometimes helps headaches. Feverfew tea is also good:>)
        Love you Mary, and Happy Tuesday to you:>)
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      Mar 6 2012: Brilliant CK
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    Mar 5 2012: Yes and blessed with one.
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      Mar 4 2012: With children and animals this is about the same like you say.
      They're still more pure, absorbent and in connection with the heart.
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    P Tun

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    Mar 1 2012: Absolutely! We can get and can give unconditional love from/to people not related to us. It's a fabulous way to experience life. It's an incredibly beautiful experience to know that we are loved and accepted uncondtionally for who we are even with our flaws, and to truly feel this unconditional love towards other.

    I really like what Colleen Steen said about this topic.
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      Mar 2 2012: Dear P Tun,
      I wholeheartedly, unconditionally agree with you that unconditional love from/to people is a FABULOUS, BEAUTIFUL way to experience life, and I believe it to be unlimited.

      I think/feel what happens sometimes, is that people build protective "walls" around themselves because of fear, and these walls prevent unconditional love from flowing through us. It is necessary to "peel back the onion" (the layers of walls) to discover that unconditional love is an incredibly natural, magnificent feeling which we can give and recieve all the time, with everyone. We need to first experience it in ourselves:>)

      I really like what YOU say about this topic P Tun:>)
  • Feb 29 2012: In my opinion, we should never walk around thinking we are "entitled" to "unconditional" love from anyone.

    In reality, sometimes our actions, or even lack of them, as in neglecting to be loving in return, can cool off another's love for us.



    I would like to believe that love of any kind, interpersonal relationships for that matter, is not so fragile or tenuous—that it might not be withdrawn at any moment because of some failing on the other's part or that the siblings/friends/parents/children are obliged to earn such love by doing everything just right.


    With this definition of "unconditional love, I can see anyone loving another "uncondiitonally"......... Like a friend of mine says all the time: "My love for you is far greater than your imperfections".

    Many individuals have learned to love without expecting anything in return....this is a superior kind of love that may evolve with time in some. You can sense it in other's actions......and not just their words.

    Very interesting question Sunny.....

    Be Well
  • Feb 28 2012: Seems to me that this thread is built on an obvious fallacy: sibling connection, or one of the other relations, is in fact a condition, so the question is moot. I would also assert that though there is something about loving without expectation, the absence of projected result does not presume an absence of condition.
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    Feb 28 2012: Unconditional love as suggested below by a fellow tedster below Miss Collen steen was so true regarding loving someone without any conditions. It is no doubt healthy but scarce. from parents and family and specially my wife if have received unconditional love but from friends it usually begins by sycophancy with it a request is attched. Thus as a result of this i believe uncondtional love can only be given by our parents...
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    Feb 27 2012: Time spent together while one or the other person is a child is also important here.

    In all cases you mention besides spouse (child, parent, sibling), it makes sense that the bond be strong because so much time was spent together during your most impressionable years (youth) or while the other person is young (tendency for people to care about children).
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      Mar 6 2012: so for unconditional love to happen , it is necessary to sepdn time with each other? hmm interesting , what about a father to his new born daughter
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        Mar 9 2012: It doesn't seem like any single cause is necessary, though if there were one, time spent together would have to be the top one. At the extreme, it's hard to believe you could love someone you have never met.

        In the case of the father and his newborn daughter, there is the genetic argument from our last comment, and there is even something you could consider similar to time spent together: time spent in anticipation of the baby coming along. It would make sense that someone anticipating, for months, the arrival of a baby would be more enamoured of it than someone who found out about it on the day it was born.
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    Feb 27 2012: Genetic similarity is important here.

    There are many reasons to love and make small or large sacrifices for others, but one factor is that evolutionarily speaking, when you do things for others, you are somewhat doing things for yourself, due to shared genetic material. ...and the more another person has in common with you genetically, the more that is true.

    Of course, bending to that evolutionary pressure is not necessarily a good thing.

    For some reason we think it is OK at the family level but rightly denounce it at the racial level. It is partly the same phenomenon, though, so it should be our goal to rise above it.
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    Feb 26 2012: Unconditional love, as it seems, can only be achieved with siblings, parents, etc.
    Why is that? In my opinion, it is because we only know a person when we live under the same roof as that person. In other words, because we get to know that person as he/she really is.
    Although, asking to your question, I say yes. We can´t even describe love, what´s love. The definition of love is very fragile. Maybe love is just a strong bound, and why not?

    I think I wasn´t very clear in the last part, so if anyone has a question or an argument don´t hesitate replying.
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      Feb 27 2012: Unconditional love is the deep felt understanding that all life is one life. That you have no life of your own because you exist through every living thing. You know yourself for what other people show you, your parents gave you life and strength while plants and animals provide for energy and building material. There really is nothing you are that you haven't received first. All you can give you're just passing on and the more you can give the more it will return but only if it's given with love and by appreciation.
      • Feb 27 2012: Agreed!
      • Feb 29 2012: I will second that!!
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        Mar 4 2012: Thanks for sharing that wonderful thought!
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        Mar 6 2012: excellent
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        Mar 9 2012: Absolutely.

        Unfortunately, there are plenty of situations where reciprocity isn't built in, so people don't get this sense as much as they could.

        ...and more and more it seems like people want to believe they are islands. ...and that too-strong independence streak is related to people wanting to be unique, and to the phenomenon of celebrity.
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    Feb 26 2012: Your question caused me to think about people that give their lives for people they do not know. What would this be called? Altruism? Could this be a form of unconditional love? And what about the social workers and people that help others, those that genuinely care about a person's needs and well-being without giving one thought to the individual's history that brought them to the potentially adverse situation they are in (e.g. drug abuse, domestic violence, criminal wrong-doings)? Could this be considered unconditional love?
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    Feb 26 2012: Yes absolutely. We have something we like to call "unconditional positive regard" (UPR) It is a "degree" we bestow upon peope that have been welcomed into our small clan. I don't know if it is irrevocable since it has never been necessary to contemplate ones dismissal. UPR is a gift of love and acceptance it is our way of making you "related", a sort of de facto sibling - you are always welcome and always understood even when it is inconvenient to welcome you or impossible to understand you. You can't steal because what belongs to one belongs to all. You can not lie because you are understood. You can not cheat because you are accepted for who and what you really are.

    Certainly, it is a rare thing to bestow, it is an exclusive club but then that brings to mind the Mark Twain, Groucho Marx, Woody Allen observation that "one would not want to be a member of any club that would have them". Ours is a club of scoundrels, and heroes; intellectuals and stuffed shirts; cops and robbers, those who have failed and those who have been successful. We are what we are and that's all that we are but we have each other.
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    Feb 26 2012: If you take the bible at face value, then we are all God's children. This being the case, we are all related. We also have to define 'love'. Is it an emotional reaction or a decision that we make with our mind? From experience I have found it to be a mixture of both.
    If a person is seen as a child of God, then that person is of infinite value. From a human perspective we start to see people as 'eternal friends' (Christians) or potential 'eternal friends' (non-Christians). This makes daily interactions a whole different ball game, the outcome of which only eternity will reveal. I think my answer to you question is YES!

    :-)
  • Mar 9 2012: One thing to consider is the difference between divorce rates and marital satisfaction rates (as measured by subjective reports) between couples whose significant other was chosen for them and between couple who chose their significant other independently. If the parents choose who marries who, couples tend to report less initial satisfaction with their partner at first, relative to couples who chose for themselves, and greater satisfaction after time went on, as well as having less of a chance to divorce their partner.

    If, then, we define unconditional love as, 'loving someone regardless some quality or action,' it makes sense that people whose parents chose their partner, and who didn't chose for themselves, would experience greater marital satisfaction because they simply didn't participate in the debating of whether or not they loved that person. It is truly unconditional to not wonder whether or not we love someone.

    Similarly, there have been studies done to show that if people were to choose between two paintings over some time, and then return one and keep another, then, compared to people who had to choose in the beginning and did not experience this period of internal debate, of choosing, the people who did experience the questioning of what to do were less satisfied with their choices over time than people who chose from the beginning and were 'stuck' with their painting, as it were, similar to how people who have their spouses chosen for them are 'stuck' with their partners in a way unlike people who go through a similar period of deciding who to marry and for what reasons.

    In order to answer this question perhaps we should ask if it is the period of questioning, of debating whether or not to love someone, that makes it easier to love siblings unconditionally and easier to love other people conditionally.
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      Mar 8 2012: My pleasure Alpha.
      I'm not here to correct anything or anyone...simply here to share information:>)

      Whatever makes sense to you Alpha, is how you are going to orchestrate your life experiences
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          Mar 8 2012: I have confidence that you will make good use of it Alpha. You are asking questions and exploring possibilities. That is the BEST place from which we can do our best...in my humble perception. Remember...you have choices in each and every moment of your life:>)
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      Mar 8 2012: Alpha,
      No, I do not agree that "when one loves one thing, automatically one hates the opposite". Loving and hating (fear) are choices, and are not necessarily "automatic" in my perception. In my experience, love and hate are not "bound" to each other. I do not think/feel that I have lost anything because of the choices I have made in my life experiences.

      If you believe it is rational "to love one thing, and hate it's opposite", so be it. I don't spend my energy with hate. Yes, I do agree that hate or love can be "a way of life". That is what I have been expressing to you. The way we live our lives is a choice.

      We "fuel" the thoughts, feelings, ideas, opinions, and beliefs we choose to fuel. Yes, I agree that "a feeling that one is sure of, certain about, would forever be in perpetual motion".

      I agree that unconditional love can become so naturally perfect that one forgets conditions.
      Regards:>)
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      Mar 7 2012: Dear Alpha,
      I totally agree with you that "love can be recieved from anyone, and all relationships start somewhere"...well said. That statement does not seem consistant with everything else you have written.

      I do not agree that "those capable of unconditional love are equally capable of unconditional hate". In my experience and perception, we are coming either from a place of love (acceptance, respect, compassion, emapthy, joy, contentment, etc.) OR a place of fear (hate, disrespect, discontent, anger, frustration, anxiety, etc.). A person who loves unconditionally, sees the benefits of loving unconditionally, and does not choose to hate.
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          Mar 8 2012: Alpha,
          I also came from a place where I experienced love and fear. My mother was content, peaceful, joyful, respectful to everyone, compassionate, empathic, secure in knowing herself, lived life with integrity and unconditional love. My father was disrespectful, angry, frustrated, insecure, anxious, racist, prejudice, violent and abusive. I witnessed the two polarities from the time I was a wee little child. I observed the results of both beliefs and behaviors with my parents themselves, and all those they interacted with.

          I do not agree that we "all love some things and hate some other things". I actually tried hating my father when I was a teenager. I said the words..."I hate him". Almost everything he seemed to be doing was "hateful", and yet I could not ever accept hate in myself because my mother's dominant unconditional love was much more appealing to me, even as a young person. In trying to hate my father, I realized what hate does to a person...it consumes...it negatively colors everything we do in our world...it does not lead to anything beneficial to us as individuals, or to the whole of humankind.

          Based on my experience of trying to hate my father, I do not agree that it is "normal" to have both hate and love. We choose how we live our lives, and generally, whichever we choose colors everything in our experiences...in my humble perception.

          I am not trying to "correct" you in any way...you make your choice, and I make my choice:>)
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          Mar 8 2012: Alpha,
          You are the only one who knows where you come from, and which choice you make in each and every moment of the life adventure....perhaps it is time to think and feel on another level?
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          Mar 8 2012: Dear Alpha,
          I think/feel we are all capable of unconditional love OR hate. For me, love is a natural way of "being" in this world. Hate is a learned behavior. I believe it to be exactly as you say...those unable to understand their feelings, may be confused about where, why, when and with whom those feelings manifest.

          When one is unconditionally loving, there is no need or desire to "apply conditions". When you say "love converts to hate", perhaps you mean that when someone loves unconditionally, and the unconditional love is not reciprocated, that person may feel resentful?

          If you are going to refer to my life experience examples, that I share with you, I would appreciate it if you would not misuse the information. I DID NOT say to my children..."I love you a lot, but I would prefer/love you more if you keep your room clean". Please read that again, if you are interested in what I actually said.

          I don't agree that we learn anything from hate, because to hold onto the hate, we need to constantly fuel it, just as we constantly fuel love. I agree...it is a choice.
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    Mar 5 2012: Dear Colleen,

    Your comment appeared while I am here. I am unable to understand why you felt that acceptance is a compromise !
    Do you mean the example I came up with is unethical ? Cold you kindly elaborate your point ? I was not all suggesting any compromise.

    Thank you.
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      Mar 5 2012: No...no....no.....CK...I do not see your example as unethical!

      Your example: "imagine a lady who has a habit of overspending whenever she goes for shopping, and later lying to her husband to hide the extra expense..... she may surprisingly find herself capable of accepting the habit of her husband lying about the exact number of drinks he has had. More and more acceptance will lead to more and more unconditional acceptance".

      It feels like compromise as well as acceptance...she accepts her behavior, which may help her to accept his behavior? Perhaps I misunderstood?
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    Mar 5 2012: I agree with you, Linda, that we are talking about two or more types of love. There are different words to indicate the extent of this emotion such as affection, passion, empathy, compassion and many other but no one of them are quite love. In the same way, you may agree that pleasure; happiness and joy are not the same.

    Let us look at these emotions very attentively. Pleasure can be derived from anything that would satisfy our sense organs, such as food, sights, sounds and other stimulations. Happiness is of the mind. Good relationships, success in life and anything that satisfies our mind and ego will bring happiness. But joy is rare and unique. It is of our self, our being, our divinity. It has to be reached.
    Pleasures are of fleeting nature. They are soon replaced by their opposite pain. Happiness turns to unhappiness. Joy exists alone. Once reached it remains forever.

    I hope you will agree with me that to reach such joy we will have to overcome (transcend) mind. The ego will have to be dropped. Can you imagine the effort that is needed in such a spiritual practice?

    I am talking about that kind of unconditional LOVE that can exist along with JOY and not the love that surfaces and submerges in day to day living.

    Let us not be concerned about the source of love. Let us go ahead with the hypothesis the science document upholds. I am certain that that love cannot remain and flourish in the mind. Mind is an equipment for survival. Mind is logical and one of its constant function is comparison. The love that is created by mind is an illusion. An illusion that feeds the ego. Love has to be an experience.

    I shall continue as this space is a concern-
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      Mar 6 2012: I think you really understand CK. I posted above to Franz that the relationship never entered the physical and I almost put down it stayed in the spiritual realm but thought it might be pushing hoakey. Your analogy of joy transcending mind and ego compared to happiness is spot on. Very good description. What I was able to experience in one single relationship was something forever. And if you have something like it, it remains forever.

      Fascinating conversation.
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    Mar 4 2012: Are you referring to the identity of two people as separate individuals ? The individuality of each ? That is part of our ego. In the spiritual level, those identities disappear as they are only our illusions.

    Someone leaving you so that you may live better is not unconditional love. It is a sacrifice by the other person. It is an end. It has no continuity. Love is ongoing. It is an experience of our being (self). Love can never get toxic as our minds cannot reach and contaminate it. Love comes from our heart.
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    Mar 4 2012: I was thinking that the only people who could love you unconditionally are those that are NOT related to you. Yes we have a spiritual connection with our relatives but it is not unconditional. Even with parents, they will love you IF you clean your room, or IF you go to college. Children will love you IF you get them the toy/item they want or IF you let them take the car. Or you can see the grandkids IF... Even boyfriend/girlfriend or married couples, I will love you IF you don't cheat, IF you get a job, IF you come home every night...

    True unconditional love is very very rare. You will know it if you see it. We are lucky if we can find it in one relationship in our lives. Perhaps the closest is our very best friend. But they usually come with IF too.
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      Mar 4 2012: I disagree. Children, parents, grandkids, wife will be there when you need them the most for example in an accident, or consolation which is ofcourse UNCONDITIONALLY etc while the closest best friend would help you only for a purpose / conditionally so that we may be of their help in future CONDITIONALLY
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      Mar 4 2012: Linda and Franciz,
      I agree that putting an IF in front of a task we are "doing" causes us to function based on conditions.

      To me, unconditional love is much deeper than "doing", and is a way of "being". We may have preferences... cleaning the room, attending college, giving/recieving the coveted toy, there when we need them, etc.

      To be unconditional, love is not dependent on "doing" because what we "do" for someone is often conditional...you're right about that! The biggest condition we put on our "doing", is expecting something in return...love. When we can let go of our expectations, than the "doing" connects with the "being", and we can love unconditionally. To me, unconditional love is a feeling that allows me to give and recieve without conditions...without expectations of giving or recieving anything in return.

      I don't precieve unconditional love to be rare Linda. I am gratefully surrounded with friends/relatives who give and recieve unconditionally, and I think/feel part of the reason for that is that I "do" and "live" the same way:>) When we truly love unconditionally, without expectations, we free ourselves and others around us from the bonds and boundaries of conditions. We can still have preferences, and make those preferences known, and we let go of our expectations.

      Cleaning the room for example:
      When my kids were teenagers, after trying to get them to keep their rooms clean, I made a deal with them. Their room, was their room, and I would not intrude with how it was kept. I asked them to please keep the door closed so I wouldn't have to see it, but the room was theirs to do with as they pleased. I asked them to keep their "stuff" organized in the rest of the house that we all shared in respect for those who lived there as well. I let go of my expectation that the rooms needed to be clean, and we did great with that arrangement. They knew I loved them regardles of the conditition of the room AND I had a preference which I was clear with.
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    Mar 4 2012: For separateness to disappear relation comes into play... i wonder the question still remains unanswered that is receiving this unconditional love from un-related people? in a era of egoism , that is not a possiblility, in the subcontinent or far east the cast system still prevails thus stopping uncondtional love, the only way forward is to remove the cast system i guess!!
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    Feb 28 2012: The problem is in semintics. First I am having a problem with the term "love" ... I would love a coke .... I love your hair .. don't you love these shoes ... The use of "love" has cheapened the term. The second problem is "unconditional". We are friends and you violate a trust, cross an unwritten line, in short violate the friendship's rules we enter a different relationship. In short there are always conditions. You can step over the line. Even religions realize this as there is forgivness and attonement. Some religions are very ridgid and can call for death if you violate their rules .... some forgive ... some ask for repentence ... some shun ... some excommunicate. I love my children and will stand by them. However, there are certain things that I will not condone from my children. Therefore there are conditions we impose even on those nearest to us.

    I find it very interesting that this question comes from a Pakistani. The region of the world you reside in is historically a battle ground for muslims, christians, catholics, and jews. There are very clear lines of allegiance to both nationality and religion.

    Sunny I would be interested in your views of your own question as I see by your bio you are muslim. I have nothing against muslims but understand that thoughts against non-believers are very strict and harsh. If I am wrong please enlighten me. I wish to learn and ask questions to further my knowledge. I hope you are not offended. Bob
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    Feb 28 2012: I suggest people read the life history of that nun the one that was in the movie (Dead Man walking) and other instances in life one can find unconditional spiritual love given by nuns and priests for DEATH ROW inmates. But the question is: why does this even come with a condtion that is the nun or priest or anybody their has "a job to do" as reflected in state laws for them to be present for the deathrow inmates, so where is the unconditional love here?

    Texas laws particularly, must be changed and parents or loved ones must be allowed to sit with the death row inmates