This evening was Book Club night. I missed the last meeting, when we began our new book, Mastery of Love, by Don Miguel Ruiz. Having read chapters 3 and 4, I was ready to get caught up with the group and I anticipated the conversations we would have. I was not disappointed.
Chapter 3 is titled “The Man Who Didn’t Believe in Love”. It tells the story of a man who, having been disappointed by his relationships, travels the country telling everyone that he doesn’t believe in love, and they shouldn’t either. He explains “What humans call ‘love’ is nothing but a fear relationship based on control.” And then he meets a woman who has been hurt and disappointed as well, and who also does not believe in love.
The two, having so much in common, become great friends and a wonderful relationship grows between them. Neither looks to the other for love, but shares openly and deeply with each other, without attachment or expectation. They realize that what they have is a profound love for each other, even though both look to themselves for their own happiness. The man, full of joy and overflowing with love, draws a star from heaven, into his humble hands. His soul expands and he is struck by the beauty of this star, which seems to have merged with his very soul.
Wanting to share this amazing experience, he goes to the woman and places the star in her hands. Overwhelmed with the intensity of the love, she wavers and allows doubt to enter. The star shatters into a million tiny pieces. The man, disillusioned again, walks the earth, no longer believing in love, while the woman regrets her doubt and longs for the man to return. What happened? The man was happy, the woman was happy, each enjoying the love radiating from his and her own heart, until he placed his happiness into her hands.
The lesson from this rather sad story? We are each responsible for our own happiness. The moment I place my happiness in someone else’s hands, it can be broken or lost. I am responsible for my own happiness, and only my happiness.
Chapter 4 is called The Track of Love, The Track of Fear. What a great chapter on the contrast of operating out of fear versus out of love. Fear is full of obligations. Love has none. Fear operates out of “have to”. Love operates from “want to”. Love has no expectations. Fear is full of them. Love is based on respect while fear has none. Love has compassion. Fear is full of pity. Love is completely responsible. Fear avoids responsibility. Love is always kind. Fear is unkind. Love is unconditional. Fear is full of conditions.
Most of us spend our lives operating out of fear. Fear seeks to control, so that outcomes are controlled. We get upset when ultimately, we realize that there is very little, outside of ourselves, that we can control. Fear says, “I love you if you let me control you, if you are good to me, if you fit into the image I make for you.”
Love has no ifs, no condition. Love says, “There is no if; there are no conditions. I love you for no reason, with no justification. I love you the way you are, and you are free to be the way you are.” How amazing life would be, with that kind of love expressed toward one another.
We had an amazing conversation around these concepts. Pulling a fragment of a sentence from chapter 4, “…when we are afraid, we lie…”, we discussed whether we are lying when we are hiding our true selves, when we fear loss or punishment or rejection will come if we live as the women that we really are. I appreciate the honesty and insights that each woman in our book club offered. We are each seeking to live authentically, as the person we are created to be, regardless of what anyone else thinks, regardless of the expectations of others. That’s living from love, offering love, and detaching from the outcome. We are choosing the track of love, over the track of fear. Ruiz writes, “The only way to master love is to practice love. You don’t need to justify your love, you don’t need to explain your love; you just need to practice your love. Practice creates the master.” We are becoming masters.