To Love or To Be Loved

Is that the question? Or is there a third way …

Black and white thinking is a hallmark of the brokenhearted and tormented.

When Hamlet pondered, “To be, or not to be — that is the question” he was contemplating suicide (his love for Ophelia being one of several reasons) without taking into account what I call the third way.

Some people believe it is better to love than be loved. Their credo is, “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

Others, usually those who have experienced unrequited love one too many times, prefer to be loved. Many a mother has advised her daughter that to be adored is a far stronger position in a marriage than to be adoring.

The third way is not a middle-of-the-road way. It is not about living in the mediocre shades of gray between the starkness of black or white. The third way opens up vistas of potential and creativity. It is a spiritual solution to a human dilemma. It is a true Answer, salve to a broken heart, remedy for the relentlessly restless mind.

I’ve suffered my share of unrequited love, have despaired and considered suicide. Endless tears wept. And worse, after the tears stopped, the constant ache of deprivation. Feeling that the one person in the world who I found irresistibly appealing had been taken away. No one could replace him, his scent, his touch, his laugh, his walk, his aura, his presence, his energy, his unique way of being. I was alone. Existentially, permanently alone.

People would tell me, “You’re a beautiful, intelligent, funny woman. You’ll have no trouble finding another man.” How wrong they were. Finding a man wasn’t the problem. Feeling attracted to him was. He who had that subtle blend of qualities that strongly appealed to me was rare indeed.

Finally, I reached the point where, in order to make babies, I was willing to settle. Arranged marriages often work. I approached dating in a pragmatic way. I tried, I really did. But, no surprise, settling didn’t satisfy.

I was despondent. It wasn’t just that I didn’t want to be alone, or that I didn’t like being alone. I didn’t understand being alone. Every fiber of my romantic being said that I was supposed to be in a committed relationship with the love of my life. Of the many facets of my persona, the majority were willing to fall off my slender branch of the Tree of Life like an un-mated lovebird.

Within the Russian dolls of my psyche, a small part of me piped up, insisting that there must be a better way than death or lifelong despair. Along came a quote that penetrated my emotionally raw and wounded state,

“The one whom I have called God … has been seeing His life through my eyes, has been hearing through my ears … it is His breath that comes through my breathing…” ~Hazrat Inayat Khan

Up until then, God had been far, far away, sitting on a throne in the sky, and much too busy with vitally important matters to be bothered by a wretch like me. The idea that God could be seeing through my eyes shocked me … my tears subsided and what remained was a clear view of Great Possibility. What was God seeing through my eyes?

Something in me opened up. I was used to emotional pain, but as I removed “me” in order to find out what God was seeing through my eyes, suffering ceased. At first, it was an indescribable feeling. Next, I held my breath, fearing that suffering might return. Day after day went by and the coast was still clear. Then I realized that the positive equivalent of lack of suffering was an ongoing sense of well-being.

According to the Great Bard,

“Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs,” William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet

But according to the Sufi master, Hazrat Inayat Khan,

“God is Love, Lover and Beloved.”

Romantic love is thought to be between people. Truth is, romantic love is a pining to bring to fruition latent qualities within yourself. What you love in another is what you yearn to experience within yourself.

For instance, I was attracted to calm, quiet men. It turned out that my irritated nervous system was soothed by that kind of grounding presence. When I became aware of that, I felt motivated to find ways to calm and ground. As I embodied this inner peace, I became less talkative. Less mind chatter, more Timeless Wisdom. That’s Self-Love. That’s the third way.

Find out for yourself. Are you attracted to people who are artistic? Structured? Reliable? Adventurous? These are probably qualities you long to recapture. They live within you. Don’t think you have to develop them. Allow yourself to claim what is yours deep down inside.

This is the third way. Nothing has to be invented or imagined. All you need to do is rediscover that you are lover, beloved and Love Itself.

The 13th century mystic Hafiz said,

“We are like lutes once held by the Beloved. Being away from His divine body fully explains all yearning.”

Embrace the third way. Permit yourself to see what God sees through your eyes. Your latent gifts will be revealed. There is a saying, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Let yourself ripen — this aging is rich with all that youth wastes. The wisdom of the ages wants to reveal itself to you, but if you’re not ready, you won’t absorb it; you won’t behold it.

Stop thinking for yourself, and the Lover will take care of you. Stop fighting for what you want, and the Beloved will provide for you. Stop assuming you are deprived, and Love will make itself Known within you … that is the luminous Third Way.

The cat’s out of the bag. Reverend Amy Torres is a spiritual teacher with
a colorful past … which comes in handy when coaching clients in need of non-judgmental understanding, wise guidance, and a touch of mysticism.