If we are willing to look deeply and observe our motives, expectations, desires, we can see clearly where we are being snagged by some form of attachment.
Just lately I have become acutely aware of this in my own experience.
I have a loved one that is trying to find her feet and work through some of her 'stuff'. As much as I can I am trying to support her through this journey and yet with some honest and compassionate words from a very dear friend of mine I was able to see that I was becoming attached to the desire for my loved one's well-being.
Now, on the surface you may say that wishing another well is perhaps a reasonable or normal thing and yet it has become abundantly clear to me that it is simply a rather subtle form of attachment and actually is not an expression of unconditional love but instead a demand or expectation placed upon another. You see, each time it appears that our loved ones do something seemingly unhelpful or counter-productive toward their own well being there is the arising of disappointment or frustration or judgement in some form. Suddenly and for a brief moment there are conditions we feel need to be met in order to show us that they are getting well, or on 'the right path'. And so in my own current experience I am no longer supporting but instead trying to guide or control the outcome because the thought of her not fulfilling her wellbeing scares me at some level, and quite simply I have no right nor authority to try and impose anything upon her. Within all of this is the tacit assumption that the way I feel it 'ought' to be is of benefit to everyone and I simply don't know this to be true.
It would be easy to dress all of this up in the guise that 'I only want what's best' - this would justify all my actions and attachments in a weird way and yet if I am totally honest, in my heart I know this to be false.
The only way I can be of service is to allow her to move freely. This might include making mistakes or not acting in accordance to any idea I might have to the contrary. This means to entirely allow her to be as she is, without judgement. This is to love without expectation nor demand of any kind.
Maybe you have a friend or loved one that you notice asks nothing of you. It is such a simple thing but so liberating to have nothing whatsoever asked of you. Just the allowance to be completely and utterly as you are.
However, it can be difficult to relinquish our desires for our close friends, partners or loved ones to be well, or to be 'better' or happier or whatever it is you may want for them.
To truly love is to let go. This also includes the willingness to feel the pain of letting go. To enter the fear of not knowing and being willing to stay with it, to observe it, to be intimate with it.
Unconditional love has no boundary. Until we see that we have some quite subtle and perhaps well intentioned conditions that we expect to be adhered to they remain as boundaries and act as an obstacle to loving unconditionally. For me, seeing this is a blessing. It allows my heart to open further and to move beyond any idea I have about how another 'should' be. Instead I am learning to be able to just love them. In spite of everything. Warts and all.
It is freeing to discover this for ourselves and it frees our loved ones when we cease to hold them to any expectation at all. To stop making images of them to adhere to. To just allow them simply to 'be'.
This, for me, is true Love.
~ June 2016