Our embodied experience gives us clear instructions on how the bliss of being can be maintained and expanded through relating: be (and become) yourself by allowing others to be (and become) themselves. This is the way of the poppy, the oriole, the flowering meadow, and also the way ancestral cultures organise their responsibility for the stewardship of life.
Unfortunately this is not how the West understands and practices love. Our culture has divorced its understanding of love from the ways of the Earth. Consequently, our most personal experience of love, romance, follows a completely different trajectory, and all too often leaves the participants in it empty, suffering and separated. While the erotic idea of love works in second person mode, through the other and their enrichment, romantic love works in first person mode.
This goes back to Plato, who introduced the powerful myth of the love partner as the ‘lost half’ of the self. Modern love theories understand love as something to be acquired and ultimately contained, not as a practice. The lover is an object required to fill what is missing in the self. This denies the erotic idea of the self developed in the previous session: a self is that which is, paradoxically and poetically, able to relate because it is able to create itself through relating.
Contemporary Western romance preaches a narrow version of love in which we must own, change, and control the other so that they satiate our egoic thirst for superficial validation. This is anathema to life itself. Without allowing ourselves to be ourselves and others to be others, we cannot relate with true compassion, care, and integrity. Personal love can only be fertile if it is part of a broader ecological love, that which desires to give life as well as receive it.