Chapter 4: The Law of Unity
Book excerpt from The Seven Natural Laws of Love
by Dr. Deborah Taj Anapol, Ph.D.
Love takes no position, and thus is global, rising above separation.
It's then possible to be 'with one another,' for there are no longer any barriers.
Love is therefore inclusive and expands the sense of self progressively.
Love focuses on the goodness of life in all its expressions and augments
that which is positive—it dissolves negativity by recontextualizing it,
rather than by attacking it. —David Hawkins, Power vs. Force
The fourth law of love is the Law of Unity. The Law of Unity tells us that love embraces all. Love includes everything and everyone. In love there is no separation, there is no “us” and no “them.” There is only One. Love is not against some things and for others. Love has no agenda, love simply is.
Like the sweet scent of a flower floating on the breeze, love is available to whoever receives it. There is no limit to how many souls love can grace. The rose bush does not ask, “Who is this passing by my garden? Will I permit them a whiff of my fragrance?” Neither does the rose bush worry, “Is every passerby getting my perfume? Did the wind carry it away too fast?”
The Law of Unity is relatively easy to talk about but perhaps the most challenging of all the laws of love to apply to every day life. How is it possible to have intimate relationships and still love inclusively? What does it really mean to embrace everything? Is there no place at all in love for boundaries and distinctions? The dualistic nature of the mind, which automatically slices life into categories of good/bad, right/wrong, and love/hate, finds the very idea of oneness alien and threatening. It immediately begins building a case against unity, telling us this kind of love is impractical, burdensome, utopian, and even sinful.
Just as I was beginning to write this chapter the phone rang. My intention was to focus exclusively on writing for the next hour, but when I saw that the caller was a friend and colleague I'd been trying to reach for days I found myself reaching for the phone.
“I'm working on my book right now” I told him. “Can I call you back in an hour?” He said that I could call but would probably be unable to reach him, so I chose to delay my writing and speak with him right away.
After I hung up the phone, I noticed that my mind was struggling to reconcile the gap between my intention and my action. Was taking the phone call the most loving thing to do for myself and my friend? Was I embodying the Law of Unity? Was I embracing whatever showed up, just as I was writing about it? Was I trusting that sharing my time would not mean that there wasn't enough time left to meet my writing goal for the day?
Or was I foolishly allowing myself to be separated from what I really wanted and needed to be doing? Was I failing to stick with my intention? Would I ever finish this book if I allowed myself to be interrupted? Was I giving up my own agenda to suit someone else?
The key to these questions is contained in the tone with which they were delivered. The words “foolishly” and “failing” suggest a critical and judgmental attitude. Fear and doubt contrast sharply with the trust which accompanied my original impulse to be more flexible with my time. Despite the concerns my mind brought forward, I felt satisfied and at peace with my decision to answer the phone.
Does this mean that it's always more loving to put your own timing aside to suit someone else? Absolutely not! A couple of days later I was again sitting down to write when the phone rang. I picked it up and noticed I felt irritated and distracted and quickly told the caller I'd be available later, but not now. This time, I knew immediately that taking the call was not in alignment with love. Had I stayed on the phone and ignored the signals that the call was interfering with path, my resentment would have grown unmanageable. Instead, my friend appreciated and understood my need to be left alone (although it wouldn't have changed anything if he didn't) and I was able to go with my creative flow.
Similarly, there are times when multi-tasking (doing several things at once) feels exhilarating, expansive, and efficient. At other times, it feels stressful and distracting. The point is to notice what feels right to you at a particular time, rather than rigidly and automatically adhering to a rule which says include everything and everybody all the time.
InclusionThe struggle with inclusion often arises at the onset of an activity requiring a lot of centering, like meditation or love making. Has this ever happened to you? You begin to focus attention on quieting the mind. You deepen your breath and relax your body. You become aware of your internal sensations. A pleasant state of concentration or arousal is just starting to develop when a baby's cry, the shrill ring of a telephone, a passing motorcycle, or some other noise, pierces the silence.
What to do? If you're a parent and your baby needs you, you will of course respond to the call for attention. If this is not the case, you have a choice. You can get annoyed by the distracting noises and go into complaint mode. “It should be quiet. I don't want to be interrupted by these sounds. Damn these inconsiderate people!” On and on it goes until your resistance to the distraction has completely derailed your intended experience. Or you can include whatever sounds are present into your meditation or lovemaking. The ring of the telephone can become an opportunity to breathe deeper and relax more completely. The baby's cry could be a joyful reminder of your love. You could try imagining the vibration of the motorcycle traveling up your spine.
Exercise: A great way to increase your skills at inclusion is to practice meditating or focusing on love while a yellow jacket or wasp is buzzing around you. This may sound odd but it works! Use whatever meditative style you prefer, or just pay attention to slow, regular breathing and radiating love from the center of your chest. See if you can peacefully include the presence of the yellow jacket or even silently invite it to stay with you. If you do this well, the yellow jacket will probably leave in a hurry, as they seem to be more attracted to angry or fearful energy than to love.
Another area where confusion about inclusion often arises has to do with sexual attractions outside the couple. How can the Law of Unity and an understanding of the inclusive nature of love be reconciled with the practice of monogamy? First of all, it's important to realize that love is not sex and sex is not love. A commitment to be sexually monogamous does not preclude feeling love for people other than your partner.
As we discussed in Chapter One, it is useless to try to dictate when, where, and with whom love will appear. Sometimes the feeling of love ignites sexual attraction between people, but love will not push blindly ahead to express itself sexually without consideration for all those who might be affected. At the same time, love does not try to prevent sexual feelings from arising, nor does love hide the truth of its passion. Neither does love bow down to the demands of anyone's ego.
Some people may decide to try including sexual contact with more than one person into their bonds of love, others may choose not to do so while freely acknowledging any other attractions that arise. Either way, as long as the truth about feelings and actions is honestly shared with all those involved, the Law of Unity is being observed.
Spiritual teacher Byron Katie[i] was once asked why she chose to be monogamous even though she didn't believe it to be a moral imperative. Her first response was to say that she wanted to include everyone in her love and that she would have to be insane to think that she could do so by having sex with everyone on the planet. Then after running through a whole list of reasons she ended up saying the reasons were irrelevant. The bottom line was that she just did. This is the way it was for her. For others it may be different.
It's quite obvious that constraints of time and energy dictate that physical union is necessarily limited to a small number of people, while the joining of hearts and souls is truly unlimited. However, it's important to remember that we are all different in our capacities for experiencing and expressing love. Someone who is working toward dissolving the barriers which seem to keep them separate even from those they are closest to may make more progress if their sexual union is with only one. Those whose sense of unity with all creation is constant and strong may choose to limit their sexual expression so that they are more available to the world at large. If your journey finds you somewhere in between these extremes, as most of us are, it's important to realize that the Law of Union can manifest in an infinite variety of ways. This is called unity in diversity.
PolarizationWe often think of unity as referring to union with others, but the unity, or lack of unity, within is far more important than what happens outside. This is because we usually externalize our inner conflicts. Then we end up struggling with others when the source of the discord is inside. It's difficult to find unity amidst the diversity of the outer world if you haven't found a way to embrace the multiplicity inside your own skin.
For example, let's say that you are conflicted about whether you want to get married or not. You've been told all your life that marriage is the ultimate expression of love and have been planning your wedding since you were a child. The part of you that wants to get married is a part you are comfortable with and feel good about.
Another part of you has doubts about this whole marriage thing. This part has witnessed many painful divorces and angry confrontations between spouses. This part is worried about taking on outdated, traditional sex roles or financial entanglements. This part had heard statistics that the majority of men and women have secret extra marital affairs. You are not so comfortable with the part of yourself who is suspicious and distrustful of marriage. You don't want to listen to what the anti-marriage self has to say because it might get in the way of achieving your goal of marriage.
It's very common for a person with this kind of internal conflict to attract a partner who is their mirror image. In this case, it would be a partner who is consciously against marriage yet also has a deep, unconscious desire to be married. These two fall in love, in part because the other is expressing their secret or hidden self.
Now the conflict becomes an issue in the relationship between them. Every attempt to change the other creates a deeper rift in the relationship. The more stubbornly one insists upon marriage, the more entrenched the other becomes in opposing it. The longer this goes on, the more strongly each identifies with their position and the less likely they are to recognize the validity of the other's point of view. The inner struggle has created a battle with another person. The internal conflict has been projected out into the world.
This relationship is doomed unless at least one of the partners owns both sides of this polarity and begins to work on ending the war going on inside. For example, if the pro-marriage partner takes the conflict back inside and admits that they are also afraid of marriage, the anti-marriage partner has space to acknowledge their desire for marriage without propelling them both to the altar immediately. If both the pro-marriage and anti-marriage stances can be listened to with respect and accepted as part of the whole picture, understanding and loving resolution becomes possible. If one partner is able to stop blaming the other and acknowledge the validity of both positions, the opening for a solution exists. Both parties will still have to find a way to inner unity, but now they have an opportunity to lovingly support each other in this endeavor instead of making the other wrong.
Special RelationshipsMost of us have been taught that we are made special through the exclusive attentions bestowed by a significant other. This desire to be loved over and above, beyond anyone or anything else, often begins in childhood with competition for first place in mother's affection. A parent or a sibling, a hobby or a career, may threaten to eclipse your claim to mother's primary consideration triggering fears about your very survival.
Later in life, if love continues to be misconstrued as the conferring of exclusive attention, we have a tendency to become jealous and possessive when love flows in other directions. Cultural norms which support these reactions only serve to create more confusion. We are simultaneously shamed for the pettiness of feeling jealous and assured that jealousy is appropriate and necessary to demonstrate love.
Sometimes, the guarantee of specialness is signified by certain behaviors which are reserved for just the two of you. Sexual intercourse is frequently viewed in this way, but almost anything can become the conveyer of specialness. The emotional reaction activated by a perceived challenge to the special relationship stems from the fear of not being loved, and therefore being alone, separate, and uncared for.
This is why the Course in Miracles teaches that “special relationships” are “destructive, selfish, and childishly egocentric.”[ii] The solution is not to pretend that everyone is the same and all relationships are equally significant. Nor is it to invoke The Law of Unity as an excuse for avoiding commitment or breaking agreements or scattering your energy so widely that it loses coherence. The idea is to use these relationships as a means of becoming more loving, instead of letting special relationships be used to create more separation.
In order to do this, we must honor each other as teachers uniquely suited for the expansion of our own capacity for love. At the same time, we need to remember that the Law of Unity tells us that love is essentially impersonal. Love knows that we are all One. Love knows that we are all special, but love is under no obligation to prove to you that you are special and will do its best to relieve you of the delusion that you are more special than anyone else. This impersonal quality of love may well be the most challenging for our egos to accept.
AltruismTrue love always wants the happiness of the beloved. The choice to unselfishly do something that benefits someone else even to one's own apparent detriment is called altruism. Altruism is sometimes viewed as impossibly idealistic and utopian. If you understand the Law of Unity, you see that altruism is consistent with the natural laws of love. Once you realize that we are all connected, you understand the joy that comes from helping someone else. It is no different than doing something for yourself except that you also have the enjoyment of serving another. Love's truest expression is in being of service. Altruism is one name we give to love that has no boundaries and no borders.
In the movie Besieged a young African woman relocates to Rome to further her education after her husband is thrown into prison for opposing the ruling military regime. She finds work as a live in housekeeper for a pianist and composer. One day he breaks down and confesses he's in love with her. Overcome with emotion, he tells her he's never felt this way before. He tries to embrace her and begs her to love him in return saying, “I'll do anything to get you to love me, just tell me what I have to do!”
She is frightened and offended by his passion. She pushes him away screaming, “Get my husband out of jail!”
He turns away looking stricken and after a moment replies, “I didn't realize you were married.” Nothing more is said on the subject, but as the movie unfolds the antique sculptures, furniture, paintings, and tapestries begin to disappear from the villa. Then she gets a letter from her husband saying he will soon be released from prison and arriving in Rome. Minutes later she sees the Steinway grand piano being lowered from the window of the composer's house and she realizes he has sold everything, even his the piano which is his whole life and livelihood, to get her husband out of prison.
The film ends on an ambiguous note, with the woman telling the pianist that she loves him as her husband arrives at the door. We don't know the outcome, just as the pianist doesn't know what the outcome will be when he lets go of his most precious possession. But we do know that what we have witnessed was not the superficial infatuation or sexual attraction we might have assumed at first. Love has guided him to selflessly fulfill the heartfelt desire of his beloved even though by doing so it appears he is losing any chance for a love affair with her.
[i] Byron Katie, Loving What Is
[ii] The Course in Miracles