Love is all we need

related pages: Martin Luther King: Levels of Love, the power of love or the love of power - Hope and Courage

Martin Luther King preached about the "levels of love" that offer salvation for the crises of our society. Love can be fractal, ranging from the innermost level -- love for one's self (not narcissism, but the basis for being able to love outwards), romantic love, familial love, love of friends, of community, of the world as a whole -- both humanity and the rest of the species on Spaceship Earth. Positive transformation is not achieved from the negative good of fighting the good fight, but envisioning and actualizing what is wanted instead.

The different tribes of political activists, permaculture practitioners and the personal growth efforts are incomplete and as a combination would be closer to the love that we need. Most activists ignore practical efforts for society to be functional and the emotional growth needed for a better politics. Permaculture efforts for authenic sustainabilty rarely discuss political and cultural shifts needed to make permaculture more than a small fringe. Most of the personal growth / new age efforts are inwardly focused and rarely discuss the bigger levels.

Love at all levels is experiential, not easily boiled down to words on a screen or piece of paper. But there are many sources of wisdom and compassion that can increase understanding. This page includes some of my favorite psychologists, counselors, poets, artists, visionaries and other teachers.


the healing power of love

"the salvation of man is through love and in love"
-- Viktor Frankl, "Man's Search for Meaning"

"Love is the dynamism that most infallibly brings the unconscious to light."
-- Carl Jung

"Love doesn't just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new."
-- Ursula K. LeGuin

"We've got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can't just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it's going to get on by itself. You've got to keep watering it. You've got to really look after it and nurture it."
--John Lennon

"In a time of ugliness the true protest is beauty."
-- Phil Ochs

Understanding someone's suffering is the best gift you can give another person. Understanding is love's other name. If you don't understand, you can't love. ....
-- Thich Nhat Hahn

All of us want love and acceptance, but true unconditional love is beyond emotions -- beyond actions and reactions, anger and blame. True love is peace, bliss, understanding, and the acknowledgement of the divinity in all. However, it takes practice to love unconditionally.
-- Judith Cornell, Mandala: Luminous Symbols for Healing

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
-- Marcel Proust

And while we spoke of many things, fools and kings
This he said to me
"The greatest thing
You'll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved
In return"
-- Eden Ahbez

"The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day."
--David Foster Wallace, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life

peace and love

"We're all brothers and sisters and it behooves us to discover that and then develop ways of cooperating with one another and being as kind as we can be to one another and figuring out how to make life bearable on this very small, insignificant, fragile planet that we call home ....

"The holy grail is love," Waters continued. "That is what we should be promoting and protecting with every ounce of energy we all have."

-- Roger Waters, formerly of Pink Floyd


We're all in the same boat. The Titanic is sinking. And the lifeboat is the love boat.
-- Steve Bhaerman, aka Swami Beyondananda (the cosmic comic)

.... We're told, often enough, that as a species we are poised on the edge of the abyss. It's possible that our puffed-up, prideful intelligence has outstripped our instinct for survival and the road back to safety has already been washed away. In which case there's nothing much to be done. If there is something to be done, then one thing is for sure: those who created the problem will not be the ones who come up with a solution. Encrypting our emails will help, but not very much. Recalibrating our understanding of what love means, what happiness means – and, yes, what countries mean – might. Recalibrating our priorities might.

An old-growth forest, a mountain range or a river valley is more important and certainly more lovable than any country will ever be. I could weep for a river valley, and I have. But for a country? Oh, man, I don't know…

Edward Snowden meets Arundhati Roy and John Cusack: 'He was small and lithe, like a house cat'
The Indian novelist recalls an extraordinary encounter in a Moscow hotel with the NSA whistleblower
Arundhati Roy
Saturday 28 November 2015

you can't take responsibility for the choices a nation makes any more than you can for a partner.

The best we can hope for is to try to understand why such choices were made and let that inform future dialogue. ....

It's a lesson as true in politics as it is in our personal lives. Being so convinced of the righteousness of your beliefs that you block your ears to opposing ideas is certainly not constructive. Never has the liberal left looked more out of step with the populist tune and I speak as a paid-up member of that fraternity. My belief and hope is that the referendum and election outcomes in both the UK and US respectively will animate us all out of our apathetic stupor. We've been treading water for too long. Like partners in an unhappy marriage we needed things to hit rock bottom to force us out of our hapless ways.

The world as we know it has to change. It feels as though the divide between rich and poor hasn't been so pronounced since the Middle Ages. Along with our determination to claim whatever meagre bit of soil we consider our birthright, we're becoming increasingly useless at the life skills essential to survival. My shameful TV secret is that I'm an I'm a Celebrity viewer, a programme that often confirms my theory that evolution is in retreat. Your future president would have made a perfect contestant. I suspect you know how to light a fire, wash your socks and whip up a meal from basic ingredients, but that basic skill set is gradually making you part of a minority in the developed world.

It's a dangerous state of affairs. No wonder the proponents of fear are taking over. As a species we are scared witless and feel increasingly helpless about where we are heading. But instead of fuelling us to care better for our planet and its inhabitants we've been wringing our hands and staring out the window.

Again, as in a relationship, it's all too easy to identify where things are wrong and harder, but more constructive to identify where we're getting it right. Our tally in making the world a better place is something we don't often add up. Instead our daily diet of failure is delivered through every media outlet, our excesses and cruelties writ large to capture the popular imagination. So it's hard not to despair. ....

All relationships benefit from navigating a few crises along the way. Only when we are confronted by our worst behaviour do we pull ourselves back from the abyss. As the late, great Leonard Cohen growled: "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." During these dark days it's more important than ever to focus on that sliver.

Love, or Peace?
by Jan Lundberg

Modern society has adopted romantic love as an individualistic virtue, dating back to the European age of Chivalry and its literature. As chaos and insecurity mounted in the 20th century, "love" became for many the main desired goal. When asked, those left in "peace" would say "peace would be nice too." As peace retreated in the last 100 years, love seemed more popular.

What is love? It is a large concept, going beyond romantic love to love of family, friends, pets, music, anything -- including a philosophy of loving love. Then there's loving the planet and wanting to protect it, perhaps by honoring the goddess of the Earth (Gaia, Pachamama, Mother Earth, to give a few of her names).

However, wanting to obtain "love" or more love in one's life, from a physical lover who also is supportive, is so common that it's the prevalent idea of love. It is often a self-centered goal. Let's say finding this romantic love is successful. One then wants "everlasting love" and thus a form of security. But how can "real love" be maintained if there is no peace?

Although some would say the following statement is backwards, perhaps peace must come first, for love to flourish. This implies successful, prior activism or a new culture of cooperation and love of nature. But nothing is guaranteed or set in stone except for change itself. Therefore peace does not guarantee that one's object of love will never leave for another lover. In consolation, at least in that situation, if there were universal peace love could flourish despite some people losing in the game or dance of romance. But if peace were not reigning, love in general would be much undermined as it is today. An example of losing love when there is no peace: a lover would possibly have been driven away from his or her land, or killed by greedy, violent specimens of the human animal.

Yes, peace can be helped along by enough love. In fact it is essential. But if it is the kind of love that mainly means possessing an attractive partner, that may help neither peace nor love in the long run.

To believe in and promote peace is to love humanity and all living things as part of a beautiful whole. Randall Amster, publisher of New Clear Vision, is active with the Peace & Justice Studies Association. He recommended to Culture Change the concepts of love known as agape and ubuntu:

The Greek word and philosophical term agape is "love of one's fellow man... divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active, volitional, and thoughtful love. Although the word does not have specific religious connotation, the word has been used by a variety of contemporary and ancient sources, including Biblical authors and Christian authors. Greek philosophers at the time of Plato and other ancient authors have used forms of the word to denote love of a spouse or family, or affection for a particular activity..." - Wikipedia

Ubuntu "is an African ethic or humanist philosophy focusing on people's allegiances and relations with each other. Some believe that ubuntu is a classical African philosophy or worldview, whereas others point out that the idea that ubuntu is a philosophy or worldview has developed in written sources in recent years." Archbishop Desmond Tutu explained it as "...the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity." - Wikipedia

John Lennon, after his Twist and Shout phase of promoting of love, became one of history's best known exponents of peace and love. Consider -- no, sing it -- "All You Need Is Love," the 1967 hit anthem that included a healthy dose of humor in the production. It was not about the act of love-making, although sex was implied as most healthy and essential for life and happiness. "Give Peace a Chance" was another one of his hits soon after, in 1969, when the 1967 Summer of Love had been tempered by both the continued atrocity against Vietnam and assassinations of peace proponents Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.

Elvis Costello's hit "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" from 1979 is a defense of the values of the hippies and their icon John Lennon. It was written by Nick Lowe in 1974 when the Me Generation had taken over from the hippies, when the Vietnam War was almost over. Love and peace have been on the run since their "heyday" of 1966-1970. Why? This may cover it:

In the dominant culture of commercialism and its enforced tolerance of greed and war, the ideas of peace and love are interrelated only when the terms are used together. Separately, the word "peace" is misused as a state of less war than usual, or the absence of outright hostility -- even when people are still oppressed and starving. And "love" as the modern concept of mainly self-gratification is part of the illusory separation of oneness that springs in part from the outdated scientific gospel of a mechanical universe, a.k.a. reductionism.

The reason that peace, love and understanding have failed to triumph when we need them most can be seen everywhere: the dominant culture allows for society's having a high tolerance for evil. Thus peace and love have been divided, when there can be no separation if humanity is to survive on a beautiful, loving planet who has apparently been willing to see peace millennium after millennium. This is not wishful thinking or dreaming but reality, as can be glimpsed every time we realize life is a wonderful gift that words cannot do justice to.

intimate relationships

from "The Wild Trees," by Richard Preston (about searching for the biggest redwoods)

In the book one of the researchers who was climbing the tallest trees gets married, and a friend of the couple says this:

"Marriage is a rope you tie between you. It's like a rope that joins two climbing partners and keeps them from falling. Marriage is about rope management. You have to take care to avoid knots and snarls in the rope that joins you together. You can't keep the rope too tight, but you can't let it get too loose, either. Each of you has to give your partner enough slack for freedom of movement, so that you can both reach the top together."


"Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens. A good marriage must be created. In the Art of Marriage, the little things are the big things. It is never being too old to hold hands. It is remembering to say 'I love you' at least once a day. It is never going to sleep angry. It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon; it should continue through all the years. It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives. It is standing together facing the world. It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family. It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy. It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways. It is not expecting the husband to wear a halo or the wife to have the wings of an angel. It is not looking for perfection in each other. It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor. It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow. It is finding rooms for things of the spirit. It is a common search for the good and the beautiful. It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and obligation is reciprocal.  It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner."
-- "The Art of Marriage" by Wilferd A. Peterson

Running a nuclear power station or landing large jets is hardly simple but still very much easier than trying to be happy around another human being in a sexual relationship over many decades. There is simply nothing harder in this world, so complicated are we, so high are our expectations and so very poor is our romantic culture at helping us to raise the quality of our levels of patience, our insights, our feedback sessions and our training manuals.


The Art of Loving

"To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love," the great Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hahn admonished in his terrific treatise on how to love — a sentiment profoundly discomfiting in the context of our cultural mythology, which continually casts love as something that happens to us passively and by chance, something we fall into, something that strikes us arrow-like, rather than a skill attained through the same deliberate practice as any other pursuit of human excellence. Our failure to recognize this skillfulness aspect is perhaps the primary reason why love is so intertwined with frustration.

That's what the great German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, and philosopher Erich Fromm (March 23, 1900–March 18, 1980) examines in his 1956 masterwork The Art of Loving (public library) — a case for love as a skill to be honed the way artists apprentice themselves to the work on the way to mastery, demanding of its practitioner both knowledge and effort.

Fromm writes:

This book … wants to show that love is not a sentiment which can be easily indulged in by anyone, regardless of the level of maturity reached by him. It wants to convince the reader that all his attempts for love are bound to fail, unless he tries most actively to develop his total personality, so as to achieve a productive orientation; that satisfaction in individual love cannot be attained without the capacity to love one's neighbor, without true humility, courage, faith and discipline. In a culture in which these qualities are rare, the attainment of the capacity to love must remain a rare achievement.

Fromm considers our warped perception of love's necessary yin-yang:

Most people see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved, rather than that of loving, of one's capacity to love. Hence the problem to them is how to be loved, how to be lovable.

If two people who have been strangers, as all of us are, suddenly let the wall between them break down, and feel close, feel one, this moment of oneness is one of the most exhilarating, most exciting experiences in life. It is all the more wonderful and miraculous for persons who have been shut off, isolated, without love. This miracle of sudden intimacy is often facilitated if it is combined with, or initiated by, sexual attraction and consummation. However, this type of love is by its very nature not lasting. The two persons become well acquainted, their intimacy loses more and more its miraculous character, until their antagonism, their disappointments, their mutual boredom kill whatever is left of the initial excitement. Yet, in the beginning they do not know all this: in fact, they take the intensity of the infatuation, this being "crazy" about each other, for proof of the intensity of their love, while it may only prove the degree of their preceding loneliness.
There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love.

The first step to take is to become aware that love is an art, just as living is an art; if we want to learn how to love we must proceed in the same way we have to proceed if we want to learn any other art, say music, painting, carpentry, or the art of medicine or engineering. What are the necessary steps in learning any art? The process of learning an art can be divided conveniently into two parts: one, the mastery of the theory; the other, the mastery of the practice. If I want to learn the art of medicine, I must first know the facts about the human body, and about various diseases. When I have all this theoretical knowledge, I am by no means competent in the art of medicine. I shall become a master in this art only after a great deal of practice, until eventually the results of my theoretical knowledge and the results of my practice are blended into one — my intuition, the essence of the mastery of any art. But, aside from learning the theory and practice, there is a third factor necessary to becoming a master in any art — the mastery of the art must be a matter of ultimate concern; there must be nothing else in the world more important than the art. This holds true for music, for medicine, for carpentry — and for love. And, maybe, here lies the answer to the question of why people in our culture try so rarely to learn this art, in spite of their obvious failures: in spite of the deep-seated craving for love, almost everything else is considered to be more important than love: success, prestige, money, power — almost all our energy is used for the learning of how to achieve these aims, and almost none to learn the art of loving.
-- Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving
Love, Heartbreak and Healing: Towards the Inner Marriage
by Benig Mauger

... Love has a great power to heal us. Soul mates come into our lives so that we can learn about love, about healing, and about compassion. The consciousness of relating to another being opens us to union and wholeness that is not possible any other way. It is only through the constant chaffing of differences that we learn to deal with "otherness." Through this acceptance we move to inner wholeness. Outer love brings us to inner love and vice versa. ....
We do not love by accident! There is always a greater plan at work in our lives and relationships. As well as having the power to heal us, our soul mates act as mirrors in which we can see ourselves. Nothing constellates shadow more than relating! Of course the shadow is not only that part of us we repress, but also that we have in potential. In other words, our shadow represents unconscious aspects of our personalities, and includes our latent qualities. When we relate, particularly in intimate relationships, we usually project these aspects onto our partners. When we project unwanted qualities or patterns we consider unacceptable, we will be irritated by these very things in our partner. The same process applies in the positive. When we fall in love, we project positive, beautiful qualities onto our lovers, so they embody all the beauty our soul desires. The process of mutual projection means there are always inner forces at play in our relationships, making for exciting and sometimes challenging times!
Deborah Anapol Ph.D. Love Without Limits
Inner Marriage
Lasting happiness with a partner is an inside job.
Posted Jun 25, 2012

As the thirteenth century Sufi poet, Rumi, put it:
If you want to hold the beautiful one,
Hold yourself to yourself.
When you kiss the Beloved, touch your own lips with your own fingers.
The beauty of every woman and every man is your own beauty.


From: "Mark Manson" <>
Date: February 20, 2017 7:08 AM : Feb 20
Subject: The only thing your relationships have in common... you. 
For years and years I've preached that "improving" one's relationships or sex life is merely self-improvement in disguise. You attract what you are, and if you're attracting what you don't like, then it's probably because there's an aspect of yourself that you don't like or that you're fundamentally unhappy with.
This isn't always the most popular message of course. People generally want the easy fixes, the 1-2-3 formulas -- as if living, breathing humans were robots, and the key to getting the correct outputs was simply putting in the correct inputs. 
...  I believe that the key to a successful relationship is making a few things MORE IMPORTANT than the relationship -- this means having values that supercede sex or love. Values such as honesty or dignity. Ironically, the key to a successful dating life or sex life is to prioritize something else HIGHER than a successful dating life or sex life. 
Some values create better relationships than others. For instance, honesty generates better relationships than hype or impressing others. Trust generates better relationships than power/dominance. And respect generates better relationships than always being right.


Having open, intimate conversations with someone where you're able to openly talk about one another's flaws without resorting to blaming or shaming is possibly the hardest thing to do in any relationship. Very few people are capable of it. ...
It's not pleasant. But it's absolutely mandatory for a healthy long-term relationship. ...
Your emotional integrity naturally self-selects the emotional integrity of the people you meet and date. And when you fix yourself, as if by some magical cheat code, the people you meet and date become more and more functional themselves.

1. Know your worth.
2. Know how to love with an open heart.
3. Know how to be compassionate.
4. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
5. Know what it's like to be alone.

A supportive other half isn't someone who will hang on your every word, do whatever you want, and follow you to the ends of the earth. That clinginess isn't the 'true love' that you're searching for.
True love and support comes from someone who challenges you, stands beside you when you need them, is always there in the background in case you fall, and lets you roam free, giving you the space you need to grow as a person.
They will never judge you, put constraints on your mind, your physical body, or any of your dreams. They will be a cheerleader for your cause without being a groupie. They'll go to the other side of the world for you when you need them, but they won't over-crowd you.
They might not be around all the time, but for the things that really matter, or for when you are sick or in the dark, they'll be there at your side, without you even needing to ask.
They might seem like the busiest person in the world or the least affectionate at times, but when it matters, they'll drop everything for you.
Most of all, they will see you. This person will see what other people can't. They'll see you in all your beauty and grace, as well as your darkness and faults.
They will see you for the person you are now and the amazing one they know you are truly capable of becoming, even if you can't quite see this yourself yet.
And they'll love you. Unconditionally. And that's really all that matters in this life.
Stop expecting things from your partner that they don't intuitively know how to give you. You will learn and grow together, so long as you continue to communicate assertively and don't put unreasonable demands on each other.
But it's also up to you to become responsible for your own feelings and your own happiness. Put this first and you'll become more lovable to your other half without even trying.
Keep supporting each other. Stop worrying that your other half is going to leave you or wrong you or let you down. Have some faith and, in return, they will have faith in you.
Stay truthful to yourself and they will reflect this beautiful truth straight back to you. And keep showing all of your colors to them—your light and your darkness. Because if they truly love you and value you, as long as you do all of this, they're not going anywhere.

.... Because I was putting my happiness off until a day in the future where I had ticked off a suitable number of goals in my life rather than realizing that the present day was already filled with so much magic, excitement, beauty, simply joys, and goodness. And I had absolutely every reason and means to be happy and overflowing with contentment right here and now.
But above all, I always ended up feeling empty, despite my ambition and goal-kicking, because of one major misunderstanding about the nature of life: I was looking to external sources for happiness and a sense of fulfilment instead of anchoring my happiness and meaning within.
It's not that goals and achievements are bad to have or even unnecessary, but they are the icing on the cake of life. And so, while they are nice-to-haves, your happiness and self-worth should not be dependent on them.
I realized that your value as a person shouldn't fluctuate up and down based on whether you have a relationship, a house, an esteemed career, a slim figure, or a Facebook list full of friends.
You are inherently worthwhile and enough, and you win at life simply by being here. By being you in this very moment, a once-in-a-humankind combination of natural aptitudes, interests, passions, and quirks.
With this kind of thinking, it dawned on me that, while goals and dreams are incredibly positive and worthwhile, maybe they should be seen as secondary to your higher purpose in life: to be you.
To get in touch with your soul through life experience, meditation, movement, being in nature, service, and being lost in the flow of doing things you love.
To fall deeply in love with who you are.
To grow into the highest embodiment of you.
To love and accept and give to and forgive everyone you encounter.
To pick yourself back up and try again whenever you fall short of that highest version of you.
To eat your favorite foods, dance to your favorite music, laugh to your favorite jokes, wear your favorite clothing, read your favorite books, and work, date, live, create, indulge, and adventure in ways that feel good to you.
To become fully alive and benefit the world with your gifts.
The most surprising thing was, the more I let go of external goals and focused on self-love, soul-care, and the field of diamonds within me, the more external success seemed to come more naturally.
As a kind of by-product of taking care of my internal world, my external world has continually transformed in beautiful and amazing ways.
We need not fear that by giving up some of our goal-chasing time for self-discovery, time alone, and soul-nourishing activities, we'll end up living a lesser life. My experience has shown me that the exact opposite is true.

Shanti S

Thank you for this post - it's so true - True Love comes from our own inner self - our "soul mate" is our own soul and love itself "completes" us. I wrote about this, too, and how our society is so obsessed with finding love outside ourselves - via obsessions with relationships and celebrities - and that only creates hurts for all involved. What is real is the simple love found inside ourselves. It is up to US to complete our own selves – to know our own hearts and to awaken our own souls and to fill our own beings with so much LOVE that we want to explode and share it with the world – and then we can share it with that special someone. So - thank you for sharing this in such a beautiful way.

Eros Ascending
The Life-Transforming Power of Sacred Sexuality
Author: John Maxwell Taylor

The quest for lasting love is one of life's essential pursuits, in some ways the most essential. But it's also a quest that's impossible to separate from spiritual and sexual needs. In Eros Ascending, author John Maxwell Taylor offers a wide-ranging study of sexual dysfunction in society and explains how healthy sexuality can be an entryway to universal love and higher consciousness. Based on Taylor's twenty-three-year experience with Taoist practices, the book presents an engaging analysis of love, relationships, and sexuality from spiritual, romantic, and sexual perspectives. Taylor melds essential ideas by Jung, Gurdjieff, and Taoist Master Mantak Chia with science, biology, spiritual tradition, and current popular culture to shed new light on this eternal yet misunderstood subject. Not just for couples, the book is equally useful for single people who want to understand the methods for "learning to love yourself" in preparation for a fulfilling, long-term relationship. Taylor draws on his eclectic background as a successful playwright, composer, actor, and musician in this persuasive plan for converting ordinary sexual energy into food for the soul.'s_Blog/post/surrender-to-the-miracle-of-love/

"You're racking up all these people digitally," one of Whitney's friends tells me, "but I don't get to know them and they don't get to know me. I feel like technology has really made dating very impersonal. It's depressing."
Another friend agrees: "If you're doing this right before bed and first thing in the morning, you can get in a very dark place."
People, it seems, have a love/hate relationship with dating apps. They talk about them having an addictive, game-like quality; they worry about how they're superficial and relationships can be fickle. But they keep coming back for more.
It feels like looking for love is becoming more and more like online shopping.

When both people in a romantic relationship are in recovery from their emotional wounds and dysfunctional intellectual programming there is the potential for a partnership that touches the Divine - that has moments when the connection is nothing short of Sacred. The greatest gift of romantic relationships is that they can help us to remember how much we Truly are Loved - that who we are on the Highest level is LOVE. 

Attachment theory: secure, anxious, avoidant

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."
- Rumi

I love the chart in this article, it conceptualizes complex concepts into a simple diagram.


positive self-esteem
positive sociability

dismissive avoidant:

positive self esteem
negative sociability

anxious preoccupied

negative self-esteem
positive sociability


negative self esteem
negative sociability



On Relationships:  The Basics
by J. Alan Graham, Ph.D.

The goal is to engage in behaviors of a more Secure attachment style.  Learning to interact with each other in a Secure manner will produce more security in your relationship and in time, you will both develop a more Secure Attachment Style.   Securely attached people have three key qualities:  They are available, attentive and responsive.  When an Avoidant person is more available, attentive and responsive (as opposed to partially checked out and/or periodically dismissive), the relationship will be more satisfying for both partners.  Practicing these qualities and experiencing them from your partner is what helps Security and closeness grow.



co-dependence, counterdependence, interdependence

"we are not independent -- we are interdependent, interconnected, interrelated"
-- Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas, Eugene OR, February 15, 2017


The Interdependent Relationship:
Letting Go of Codependence and Extreme Independence

Our culture praises independence. We are taught to be strong, never reveal weakness, and above all never rely on others. In theory this approach works great. Never open up to anyone, never rely on anyone, and never get hurt. But this belief has led to one of the most isolated and disconnected cultures to ever walk the planet.
We feel weak when we express emotion and feel ridiculous for wanting and needing others in our lives. The reality is we are a species that is wired for connection and belonging. Training ourselves to be extremely independent is a huge disservice because when we are in a situation where dependence and reliance is required--such as a romantic relationship--we have no idea how to navigate these foreign waters. We often swing from one extreme to another, operating as either extremely independent or codependent, resulting in unhealthy relationships.
On the flip side of the coin we have dependence. Many people cringe at the thought of being dependent in a relationship and there is often a very negative connotation that goes along with it. Dependence in itself is not the devil. In fact dependence is a core component of building a secure and lasting relationship. It is defined as relying on another person for support. It is born out of trust. Codependence on the other hand can become problematic in relationships.
Codependence is defined as excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner. Many of us have encountered this feeling at some point in life. It is the feeling of losing yourself in another person. Not knowing where you end and they begin. This can be problematic for several reasons, but chiefly because you need to be a whole person rather than looking for another to complete you. You need to understand your value and worth as a person rather than depending on your partner for it.
Try to picture dependence on a scale. On one end you have extreme independence and on the polar opposite end you have codependence. Neither extreme is helpful for your relationship. The best solution is to find a middle ground. Those who are anxiously attached (or have endured abuse or struggled with substance abuse) tend to lean more towards the codependent side, whereas those who are avoidant tend to be more on the independent side. It is a scale and not all anxious and avoidant individuals would fall into the extremes, but those who rate high on anxious or avoidant behaviours tend to follow this pattern. Ideally, we want to move away from the outer edges of the scale, towards the middle--towards interdependence.
The ideal is to create a hybrid--an interdependent relationship.
An interdependent relationship is where both partners are mutually reliant on each other. It is a safe bond where partners can rely on each other but also maintain their autonomous identity. Trust me this is not as easy as it sounds. Many people lose themselves in others, or push intimacy away in an attempt to protect themselves. Finding a balance of depending on but also being autonomous can be tricky.

gay and lesbian relationships: love is love

similarities and differences from heterosexual relationships

a homosexual relationship is more difficult to maintain than a heterosexual one ... but doesn't that merely make it more of a challenge and therefore, in a sense, more humanly worthwhile? The success of such a relationship is revolutionary in the best sense of the word. And, because it demonstrates the power of human affection over fear and prejudice and taboo, it is actually beneficial to society as a whole -- as all demonstrations of faith and courage must be: they raise our collective morale.
-- Christopher Isherwood, in a letter to Gore Vidal, 1948
quoted in Betty Berzon, "The Intimacy Dance: A Guide to Long-Term Success in Gay and Lesbian Relationships"


Good communication is the pathway to intimacy in a relationship. To allow another person access to your inner reality, to the hopes, the dreams, the fears, and the doubts that motivate your life is to make the most intimate kind of contact with another. It is what distinguishes love from infatuation and real partnership from romantic illusion.
-- Betty Berzon, "Permanent Partners: Building Gay and Lesbian Relationships That Last"


"There is no settling down without some settling for .... the specter of a 'true love' waiting for us out there somewhere, either lost or not yet found, snuffs out more good and loving-and-totally-worth-settling for relationships than anything this side of cheating."
-- Dan Savage


it is precisely when we develop the courage to feel the joy, to feel the hurt, and to make ourselves vulnerable to others that true internal transformation occurs.

But what about those times when we were courageous, took a chance, and lost? What do we do with past hurts? Do we carry our relationship war wounds around us, like so much baggage to be unloaded onto the unsuspecting "next ex?" Or do we grow to understand that life's lessons take many forms and with each hurt comes the opportunity to heal and create for ourselves more aliveness, more openness than ever? Are we willing to learn from our mistakes -- from our specific pasts, from our families, from our friends -- and therefore bring to the table ever-increasing doses of wisdom, more opportunities to have fun, and some of that childlike love, curiosity, openness, and vulnerability with which we entered the world? How do we, as adults with our own personalized sets of baggage, learn to prepare fully and genuinely for healthy relationships?

There is a world of difference between WANTING a relationship and being READY for a relationship. Perhaps everyone at one time or another wants to be in a meaningful relationship -- wants to give love and feel love returned, to know that they are important, OF WORTH, to at least one other human being on the planet; to know that they MATTER. But READINESS implies something more. Readiness requires a healthy dose of awareness and the courage described above. It requires a commitment to engage in self-examination with rigorous honesty. Readiness implies that a person understand that he or she is a work in progress with strengths and weaknesses, and that any healthy relationship requires the courage -- and PATIENCE -- to lovingly embrace the ongoing process that is another human being.

-- Richard L. Pimental-Habib, Ph.D.,
The Power of a Partner: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Gay and Lesbian Relationships
(emphases italicized in original)

four recordings


etheral version

regular version

rocking version

-- Lovers In A Dangerous Time --
September 1983. Toronto, Canada.

Don't the hours grow shorter as the days go by
You never get to stop and open your eyes
One day you're waiting for the sky to fall
The next you're dazzled by the beauty of it all
When you're lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time

These fragile bodies of touch and taste
This vibrant skin -- this hair like lace
Spirits open to the thrust of grace
Never a breath you can afford to waste
When you're lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time

When you're lovers in a dangerous time
Sometimes you're made to feel as if your love's a crime --
But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight --
Got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight
When you're lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time
And we're lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time



"I was thinking of kids in a schoolyard. I was thinking of my daughter. Sitting there wanting to hold hands with some little boy and looking at a future, looking at the world around them. How different that was when I was a kid when, even though we had air-raid drills, nobody took that seriously that the world would end. You could have hope when I was a kid. And now I think that's very difficult. I think a lot of that is evident from the actions and the ethos of a lot of kids. It was kind of an attempt to offer a hopeful message to them. You still have to live and you have to give it your best shot."
-- from "Closer to the Light with Bruce Cockburn" by Paul Zollo, SongTalk, vol.4, issue 2, 1994. Submitted by Rob Caldwell.

22 November 1994

'Lovers in a Dangerous Time', which leads off the same album that features 'Rocket Launcher,' seems to be drawn from the same Central American experience; one readily supposes the stirring number is an ode to romantic passion among the revolutionaries Cockburn met. He says it actually was sparked by something much more ordinary.

"I was thinking about kids in a schoolyard, eighth-graders or ninth-graders who were bold enough to hold hands and feel the beginnings of passion for another person in the face of the no-future that they would be confronted with. I was thinking, 'How can they envision a life in the face of so many things that appear to threaten it?' [He maintains the revolutionaries-in-love interpretation works, though, and is pleased that some listeners have related the song to the AIDS crisis as well.]

- from "Bruce Cockburn: Interior Motive" by Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times, 22 November 1994. Submitted by Nigel Parry.

-- The Gift --
9 February 1988. Toronto, Canada.


In this cold commodity culture
Where you lay your money down
It's hard to even notice
That all this earth is hallowed ground --
Harder still to feel it
Basic as a breath --
Love is stronger than darkness
Love is stronger than death

The gift
Keeps moving --
Never know
Where it's going to land.
You must stand
Back and let it
Keep on changing hands

-- Rumours Of Glory --
31 December 1979. Burritt's Rapids.


You see the extremes
Of what humans can be?
In that distance some tension's born
Energy surging like a storm
You plunge your hand in
And draw it back scorched
Beneath it's shining like
Gold but better
Rumours of glory

Known comments by Bruce Cockburn about this song, by date:


"There's often a great beauty for me in the play of opposites. You can't understand good or be good without an understanding on some level of the evil. Now I stress 'on some level' because I'm not in favor of the philosophy that would have people go out and steep themselves in evil in order to understand. I don't think any of us are that far from it that we need to exercise that degree of effort in order to learn about evil. We've all got lots of it in us and it's not hard to see. At the same time, people who try to be good and only good and only do the good things all the time, while it's worthy to try to do, if you expect that you are going to succeed at it then you're in for trouble. You know because the other side is always going to be there."
-- from the RCA "Special Radio Series" LP, Volume Two (1980). Submitted by Steve Brace.

Circa 1981

Based on whatever observations I've done of history there's nothing I've seen that indicates people have the ability to straighten themselves out as a [song?] he says ruefully. Grim Travellers starts out from terrorism, but it's about the fact that none of us are free from the darker qualities that are part of human nature in general. It's a fairly hopeless song. One of the reasons why we followed it with Rumours of Glory is that it gives the other side of the coin-that however negative we can be, we can also depend on each other and are capable of great love.
-- from "Bruce Cockburn's Quiet Optimism", High Fidelity, 1981, by Stephen Holden.

April 2003

"What I see happening in the face of all this darkness is something new in human spirituality, openness, some sense of our common destiny. We've got to keep nudging ourselves in the direction of good and respect for each other."
-- from Bruce Cockburn's bio on Rounder Records.

Susan Adams Kauffman: "Strange Waters" is one of your songs that is rich in autobiographical detail. You cite the various observations you've made, places you've been. Then, as tension builds, you passionately state that "everything is bullshit but the open hand." What is this open-handedness you're referring to?

BC: I could have said open heart. It's openness, period, the willingness to share what you have and to accept what others are willing to share with you, and what God or the universe is willing to share with you, and you back. Defensiveness or defendedness can become an impediment to love, obviously. Since it's love that makes the world go 'round, defendedness keeps the world from going 'round.

from "Fire in an Open Hand" by Susan Adams Kauffman, The Other Side magazine, November/December 1999.


Bruce Cockburn: marriage, divorce, sex, love, humanity
This page archives comments by Bruce Cockburn on his personal relationships.

January/February 1985 - Commenting on his marriage and children
[Interviewer is Eunice Amarantides]

EA: In your last three albums, you paint the darkness of civilization around you. The only bright spots seem to be horizontal relationships with the people next to you -- or a perpendicular relationship with God.

BC: That seems right. Unfortunately, I made a mistake with the relationship that I started out with, my marriage relationship. I made the mistake a lot of people make. I took it for granted. You grow enough just to get moving and then you stop. So now I'm very conscious of avoiding that in all areas. I certainly feel this artistically as well. You could say Mao comes in here. His cultural revolution got out of hand in a horrible way, but he seemed very much on the mark in terms of recognizing that countries and people need shaking up. The minute you start living through habit is the minute things go wrong. You lose your forward momentum. In a way, it was a great blessing that my marriage did end. It was very painful, but everyone is better off for it. Now I have to avoid making a trip out of that constant change thing.

EA: Do you have any kids?

BC: Yes. I have an eight-year-old daughter. She was my one ongoing worry about the break-up of the marriage. But she seems to be doing O.K. She lives with her mom, and I see her quite regularly.
-- from "Singing in a Dangerous Time" by Eunice Amarantides, TheOtherSide, p.68, January/February 1985, © 1987 TheOtherSide.


January 2000 - Commenting on sex, love, and humanity
[Interviewer is Joseph Roberts.]

Joseph Roberts: So in this time of sexually transmitted diseases and the threat of AIDS it's as if we've abducted our sexuality, one of the last remaining places where we can connect with our naturalness.

BC: You've got to think hard about it now, but somewhere in this lies the key to the connection between sex and spirit and every culture's particular quirks about sex. The need to think so hard about who you're going to be intimate with and under what circumstances and whether or not you want to include the use of condoms to make the sexual thing happen.

Okay, if you're just talking about getting off a lot of people are prone to do that. Those are not really big questions. But if you're thinking from the point of view of the human experience and what it means to a person in a deep way then these thing do become important.

Sometimes when I think about these kinds of things I actually almost convince myself that humanity is growing. I have in the past spent a lot of time feeling that humanity is not really evolving the way some people like to think it is and we've just been going over the same ground on a kind of spiral but with more stuff each time.

But, sometimes I get glimpses that make it look as though maybe there really is a maturing going on and human society is having to look around at itself in a different way. If we don't fall prey to the childhood diseases of nuclear war and environment destruction we actually may evolve into something better than we now are.

JR: I'm thinking about how I personally have evolved from just wanting to get laid to a place where I don't really want to have sex unless it's sacred and there's an element of beauty. The sacredness of it reconnects me with the whole universe and the doors of creativity flow open and I think that's a gift we all carry in ourselves. A lot of people are afraid to open that door because of all the other associations they have with it.

BC: Yes. And maybe because it's going to ask something of them. They instinctively know that once you open that door you're not going to be satisfied unless you're willing to give it its due. I think a lot of us would rather just not know the world is bigger than our immediate concerns.

JR: It's bigger than both of us, bigger than the music or publishing industry. I was in love when your album High Winds White Sky came out. I was released from the limited vision of what I had up to that time believed love to be. It was much, much more than I ever imagined.

There seems to be a depth of intimacy and connection way back in Sunwheel Dance and now a track, The Embers of Eden CD, although it's packaged completely differently.

BC: They are related to love. When I was writing the early songs I was a lot less aware than I am now of where things were coming from. I just wrote things when the words sounded right.

There were feelings that went into it that were sort of recognized but part of developing the craft of writing and part of growing as a human, has meant a greater precision about what I'm feeling and thinking and how I'm expressing it. It's a real different process now.

Embers of Eden is a lot more grounded in history than High Winds White Sky was. The chorus part of Embers came from what can be seen from orbit, on the surface of the earth. One of the early astronauts said that the only things of human origin that you could make out from orbit were the Great Wall of China and the smoke from burning rainforests. That was such a powerful image it stayed with me and eventually came out in a personal use that had nothing to do with rainforests or the Great Wall of China. It was a figurative use of that image.
-- from "Conversations with Bruce Cockburn", Common Ground, January, 2000, interviewed by Joseph Roberts. Submitted by Audrey Pearson.

"Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment, a way to be fully together without giving up yourself," Gay Hendricks and Kathlyn Hendricks

one of the best resources I've been introduced to, I found it very helpful as a catalyst

"There is no requirement that enlightenment be painful, unless you are trying to avoid pain. Then the universe has no choice but to teach you through pain. One of the universe's strategies is to put directly before you the things you are trying to avoid. It is possible to grow and learn in a way that is loving to yourself and others. All you do is make a commitment that you want it that way ...
"Fundamental Requirement 1: Feel all your feelings ...
" 2: tell the microscopic truth ...
"3. keep your agreements ... a co-committed relationship may look like magic, but it is really composed of tiny moments of choice. Choosing to tell the truth. Noticing that you are projecting, and finding the courage to take responsibility. Choosing to feel rather than go numb. ... Ultimately, once these skills are practiced and internalized, the relationship flows effortlessly. Once your nervous system learns to stay at a high level of aliveness and does not need to numb itself by lying, breaking agreements, and hiding feelings, the creativity starts to flow."
-- "Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment, a way to be fully together without giving up yourself," Gay Hendricks and Kathlyn Hendricks

"When you can break through your approval and control programming, there is a natural, organic spiritual essence within you that can be consciously experienced. As long as we try to control ourselves and others, and as long as we strive to get others to like us, that spiritual essence is obscured. When we wake up and start loving ourselves, we claim our divine right."
-- p. 9

"Love brings our issues to the surface:
"It is because of the closeness and the possibility of love in the relationship that these issues emerge. Many of us blame our relationship problems on a lack of love, but it is actually the love in the relationship that has brought forth the issues. A close relationship is a powerful light force, and like any strong light it casts a large shadow. When you stand in the light of a close relationship you must learn to deal with the shadow ...
"We lust for closeness, yet are often terrified of it at the same time. Many people reject relationships entirely because they do not know how to handle the issues that come up when they get close."
- p. 43

"it is difficult to accept that it is our own resistance [to love], rather than other people or the world, that is responsible for our problems."

"One of the most important steps in adult life is to begin to notice where and how your behavior is programmed. You will never be completely happy until you are a free agent, and this requires that you see and transcend your childhood conditioning. ... Some people avoid looking at these issues by diverting their attention to work, addictions, and diversions of various sorts. Many of us put off dealing with our negative childhood programming until well into our forties and fifties. These issues come politely knocking at the door in our twenties, then rap louder in our thirties. If you delay looking at your programming until your forties, you are likely to have the message delivered with sledgehammer blows."
-p. 65

"There is a delicate balance between repressing your feelings and letting them overflow. It is in this narrow zone that psychological health resides. If you shut your feelings out of your awareness you deaden yourself. If you let your feelings spill over inappropriately, you risk social censure and worse. ... Hidden feelings have been implicated in nearly every human ill ... we have come to see that the act of hiding feelings is perhaps the most crippling components of relationship difficulty. But it is just as important to learn when and where to express your feelings in ways that will be well received.
"Learning to feel your feelings is such a delicate art that we recommend giving yourself a lifetime to master it."
-- p 95

Gay Hendricks: Finding our Soulmate starts with finding the perfect love inside ourselves

In this interview with Lilou Mace, Gay Hendricks says that we need to look for the perfect love within us and not outside. Finding someone starts with loving ourselves first! Gay Hendricks explains how he declared to the Universe the unique qualities he was looking for within his soulmate: honesty, no blame/taking responsability and being commited to creativity.

Gay and Katie Hendricks: The Act of Giving and Receiving Love

[longest of these videos, summary of the others, more or less - in front of a live audience]

Power of Conscious Relationship, Loving, Heart | Gay Hendricks | part 2 interview

The Secret to Long Lasting Love Relationships | Gay Hendricks
Lilou Mace interviews relationship and love expert, Gay Hendricks on the Soul Sessions here for youtube. This is part 3 of this interview and deals in particular with the secret of long lasting love relationship.

The Power of Commitment and Appreciation for long lasting relationships | Gay Hendricks

This video gives great advice for people that are independent and fear commitment and relationship. Gay Hendricks discuss here with Lilou Mace, on her soul sessions, what has been holding back Gay Hendricks to find true and lasting love. This is a 5 part video interview.

Gay and Katie Hendricks: The Act of Giving and Receiving Love

at 15:43
"we were talking about how there's always that little flip flop often times between love and fear, you rise in love and that flushes out of your body into the old patterns and fears in the way of you being in that space full time ... fear is excitement without the breath, it's when you hold your breath the very thing that could be exciting gets scared ... all you need to do in most scary situations [exhales deeply] is to unlock that million year old beautiful machine we have that is part of our body awareness, our breathing, our movement, that untapped 90% of us that we don't get any education about in school. ... when you notice what you do then you can really make a difference ... let yourself apply some gentle breathing and moving and loving yourself so that you know the quickest way to change your mind is to change your body.  Fear is really frozen fun, underneath anything that you're scared about is major fun, it's just that you haven't given yourself the opportunity to be able to have that amount of fun"

Why 'self-sabotage' could be ruining your career
By Rhea Wessel
10 December 2015


Gay Hendricks, the author of The Big Leap, a book about taking your life to the next level, says self-sabotaging behaviour is a response to hitting your upper limit, whether that's your upper limit of career success, creative expression or even relationship harmony.
He identifies four fears behind a subconscious unwillingness to enjoy the "positive energy" you've created for yourself: feeling fundamentally flawed, worrying that you might be disloyal to your roots or past if you attain your goal, believing that more success brings a bigger burden, and fearing that you'll outshine others.
"As you begin to open up to what your unique abilities are — your inner genius — you begin to try on a bigger version of yourself.  When you do that, you bump up into what I call the upper limit problem because it awakens fears in you," Hendricks said.
Very few of us can really know what success feels like until we step into it and then stabilise there for a while without sabotaging ourselves.
He added, "Everybody knows how to be a loser because we all learned to walk and have fallen on our bottoms many times.  But very few of us can really know what success feels like until we step into it and then stabilise there for a while without sabotaging ourselves."

Recognising the symptoms

If you want to stop shooting yourself in the foot, first learn to recognise self-sabotage in yourself and others.
It could be as simple as negative thoughts, or small actions like overeating right before an important presentation.  Instead of sending blood to your brain, you send it to your stomach because you are nervous, worried or subconsciously want to prove to yourself that you're not, in fact, good at public speaking, say those who have studied the problem.
Fundamentally, you may see yourself as somehow inadequate or incompetent, and a mediocre presentation is just the evidence you were looking for to prove it yourself.

Self-sabotage can cross boundaries, too, for instance from the office to the home. Maybe you get promoted, but you go home the same night and start a fight with your partner, thereby making strides in one area but taking a step back in another.  Hendricks says the basic problem is hitting the upper limit of how much positive feeling you can handle.  He wrote, "Having a willingness to feel good and have life go well all the time is a genuinely radical act."

David Richo

Our Commitments to Loving-Kindness Toward Ourselves and Others

This is an excerpt from my book, Coming Home to Who You Are (Shambhala, 2012). You are welcome to download and/or print it and share it with anyone you choose. It can be printed on two pages if you choose a font size that works for that for your printer. You are also welcome to include it in a blog, etc. Please do mention the source: Thanks.

1. I do my best to keep my word, honor commitments, and follow through on the tasks I agree to do.

2. I am making every effort to abide by standards of rigorous honesty and respect in all my dealings no matter how others act toward me.

3. I forego taking advantage of anyone because of his ignorance, misfortune, or financial straits. My question is not "What can I get away with?" but "What is the right thing to do?" If I fall down in this, I can admit it, make amends, and resolve to act differently next time. Now I more easily and willingly apologize when necessary.

4. If someone is overly generous toward me or has an exaggerated sense of obligation to me, I do not want to exploit his or her lack of boundaries. Instead, I want to express appreciation and work out an equitable way of interacting.

5. I keep examining my conscience with true candor. I am taking searching inventories not only about how I may have harmed others, but also about how I may not have activated my potentials or shared my gifts, how I may still be holding on to prejudices or the will to retaliate, how I may still not be as loving, inclusive, and open as I can be.

6. I welcome feedback that shows me where I am less caring than I can be, where I am less tolerant, where less open about my real feelings. When I am shown up as a pretender or called on being mean or inauthentic, I am not defensive but take it as information about what I have to work on. I appreciate positive feedback also.

7. I am letting go of the need to keep up appearances or to project a false or overlyimpressive self-image. Now I want to appear as I am, without pretense and no matter how unflattering. I do not want to use any charms of body, word, or mind to trick or deceive others. Being loved for who I am has become more important—and more interesting—than upholding the ever-shaky status of my ego.

8. I now measure my success by how much steadfast love I have, not by how much I have in the bank, how much I achieve in business, how much status I have attained, or how much power I have over others. The central—and most exhilarating—focus of my life is to show all my love in the style uniquely mine, in every way I can, here and now, always and everywhere, no one excluded.

9. As I say Yes to the reality of who I am, with pride in my gifts and unabashed awareness of my limits, I notice I can love myself and that I become more lovable too.

10. I never give up on believing that everyone has an innate goodness and that being loved can contribute to evoking it.

11. I am learning to trust others when the record shows they can be trusted while I, nonetheless, commit myself to being trustworthy no matter what others may do. I am always open to rebuilding trust when it has been broken, if the other is willing.

12. I remain open to reconcile with others after conflict. At the same time, I am learning to release those who show themselves to be unwilling to relate to me respectfully. I accept the given of sudden unexplained silence or rejection by others and will never use that style myself.

13. I am learning to be assertive by asking for what I need without fear or inhibition. I ask without demand, expectation, manipulation, or a sense of entitlement. I can show respect for the timing and choices of others by being able to take no for an answer.

14. I am willing to participate in the harmless conventions and social rituals that make others happy.

15. I do not knowingly hurt or intend to offend others. I act kindly toward others not to impress or obligate them but because I really am kind —or working on it. If others fail to thank me or to return my kindness, that does not have to stop me from behaving lovingly nonetheless.

16. If people hurt me, I can say "Ouch!" and ask to open a dialogue. I may ask for amends but I can drop the topic if they are not forthcoming. No matter what, I do not choose to get even, hold grudges, keep a record of wrongs, or hate anyone. "What goes around comes around" has become "May what goes around come around in a way that helps him/her learn and grow." I am thereby hoping for the transformation of others rather than retribution against them. This commitment also means that I do not gloat over the sufferings or defeats of those who have hurt me.

17. I do not let others abuse me but I want to interpret their harshness as coming from their own pain and as a sadly confused way of letting me know they need connection but don't know how to ask for it in healthy ways. I recognize this with concern not with censure or scorn.

18. I am practicing ways to express my anger against unfairness directly and nonviolently rather than in abusive, bullying, threatening, blaming, out-of-control, or passive ways.

19. I have a sense of humor but not at the expense of others. I want to use humor to poke fun at human foibles, especially my own. I do not engage in ridicule, put-downs, taunting, teasing, sarcasm or "comebacks." When others use hurtful humor toward me I want to feel the pain in both of us and look for ways to bring more mutual respect into our communication.

20. I do not laugh at people or at their mistakes and misfortunes but look for ways to be supportive.

21. I notice how in some groups there are people who are humiliated or excluded. Rather than be comforted that I am still safely an insider, especially by gossiping about them, I want to sense the pain in being an outsider. Then I can reach out and include everyone in my circle of love, compassion, and respect.

22. I look at other people and their choices with intelligent discernment but without censure. I still notice the shortcomings of others and of myself, but now I am beginning to see them as facts to deal with rather than flaws to be criticized or be ashamed of. Accepting others as they are has become more important than whether they are what I want them to be.

23. I avoid Criticizing, Interfering, or giving Advice that is not specifically asked for. I take care of myself by staying away from those who use this CIA approach toward me, while nonetheless holding them in my spiritual circle of loving-kindness.

24. I am less and less competitive in relationships at home and work and find happiness in cooperation and community. I shun situations in which my winning means that others lose in a humiliating way.

25. In intimate bonds, I honor equality, keep agreements, work on problems, and act in respectful and trustworthy ways. My goal is not to use a relationship to gratify my ego but to dispossess myself of ego to gratify the relationship. Also, I respect the boundaries of others' relationships.

26. I want my sexual style to adhere to the same standards of integrity and loving-kindness that apply in all areas of my life. More and more, my sexuality expresses love, passion, and joyful playfulness. I remain committed to a responsible adult style of relating and enjoying.

27. Confronted with the suffering in the world, I do not turn my eyes away, nor do I get stuck in blaming God or humanity but simply ask: "What then shall I do? What is the opportunity in this for my practice of loving-kindness?" I keep finding ways to respond even if it has to be minimal: "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness."

28. I want my caring concern to extend to the world around me. I am committing myself to fighting injustice in nonviolent ways. I support restorative rather than retributive justice. I am distressed and feel myself called to action by violations of human rights, nuclear armaments, economic and racial injustice. I tread with care on the earth with what St. Bonaventure called, "a courtesy toward natural things."

29. I appreciate that whatever love or wisdom I may have or show comes not from me but through me. I say thanks for these encouraging graces and yes to the stirring call to live up to them.

30. I am not hard on myself when I fail to live up to these ideals. I just keep earnestly practicing. The sincerity of my intention and my ongoing efforts feel like the equivalent of success.

31. I do not think I am above other people because I honor this list. I do not demand that others follow it.

32. I am sharing this list with those who are open to it and I keep believing that someday these commitments can become the style not only of individuals but of corporations, institutions, churches, and nations.

May I show all the love I have
In any way I can
Here, now, and all the time,
To everything and everyone, including me,
Since love is what we are—and why.
Now nothing matters to me more
Or gives me greater joy.

Based on: Coming Home to Who You Are (Shambhala, 2012)


Part of the pain of opening to love is the recognition that it requires allowing one's self to be vulnerable. Friends can move, relationships can sour, people die - and to love in the face of this is among the most difficult and beautiful parts of life.