In the book The Mastery of Love, Don Miguel Ruiz discusses unconditional love and self-love from a simple, yet complex perspective. The text speaks for itself.
"Imagine that you have a magical kitchen in your home. In that magical kitchen, you can have any food you want, from any place in the world, in any quantity. You never worry about what to eat. Whatever you wish for, you can have at your table. You are very generous with your food. You give your food unconditionally to others, not because you want something in return from them. Whoever comes to your home, you feed just for the pleasure of sharing your good, and your house is always full of people who come to eat the food from your magical kitchen.
Then one day, someone knocks at your door, and it’s a person with a pizza. You open the door, and the person looks at you and says, “Hey, do you see this pizza? I’ll give you this pizza if you let me control your life, if you just do whatever I want you to do. You are never going to starve because I can bring pizza every day. You just have to be good to me.”
Can you imagine your reaction? In your kitchen you can have the same pizza; even better! Yet this person comes to you and offers you food, if you just do whatever he wants you to do. You are going to laugh and say, “No, thank you! I don’t need your food. I have plenty of food. You can come into my house and eat whatever you want, and you don’t have to do anything. Don’t believe I’m going to do whatever you want me to do. No one will manipulate me with food.”
Now imagine exactly the opposite. Several weeks have gone by, and you haven’t eaten. You are starving, and you have no money in your pocket to buy food. The person comes with the pizza and says, “Hey, there’s food here. You can have this food if you just do what I want you to do.” You can smell the food, and you are starving. You decide to accept the food and do whatever the person asks of you. You eat some food, and he says, “If you want more, you can have more, but you have to keep doing what I want you to do.”
You have food today, but tomorrow you may not have food, so you agree to do whatever you can for food. You can become a slave because of food, because you need food, because you don’t have it. Then after a certain time you have doubts. You say, “What am I going to do without my pizza? I cannot live without my pizza. What if my partner decides to give the pizza to someone else - MY pizza?”
Now imagine that instead of food we are talking abut love. You have an abundance of love in your heart. You have love not just for yourself, but for the whole world. You love so much that you don’t need anyone’s love. You share your love without condition. You don’t love IF. You are a millionaire in love, and someone knocks on your door and says, “Hey, I have love for you here. You can have my love, if you just do whatever I want you to do”
When you are full of love, what is going to be your reaction? You will laugh and say, “Thank you, but I don’t need your love. I have the same love here in my heart, even bigger and better, and I share my love without condition.”
But what is going to happen if you are starving for love, if you don’t have that love in your heart, and someone comes and says, “You want a little love? You can have my love if you just do what I want you to do.” If you are starving for love, and you taste that love, you are going to do whatever you can for that love. You can even be so needy that you give your whole soul for just a little attention.
Your heart is like that magical kitchen. If you open your heart, you already have all the love you need. There’s no need to go around the world begging for love: “Please, someone love me. I’m so lonely. I’m not good enough for love; I need someone to love me, to prove that I am worthy of love.” We have love right here inside of us, but we don’t see this love.
Can you see the drama humans create when they believe they don’t have love? They are starving for love, and when they taste a little love from someone else, that creates a big need. They become needy and obsessive about that love. Then comes the big drama: “What am I going to do if he leaves me?” “How can I live without her?” They cannot live without the provider, the one who provides them with the everyday doses. And for that little piece of love, because they are starving, they allow other people to control their lives. They let others tell them what to do, what not to do, how to dress, how not to dress, how to behave, what to believe, what not to believe. “I love you if you behave this way. I love you if you let me control your life. I love you only if you are good to me. If not, then forget it.”
The problem with humans is that they don’t know they have a magical kitchen in their heart. All this suffering begins because long ago we closed our hearts and we no longer feel the love that is there. At some point, we became afraid to love, because we believed love isn’t fair. Love hurts. We tried to be good enough for someone else, we tried to be accepted by someone else, and we failed. We have already had two or three lovers and a few broken hearts. To love again is to risk too much.
Of course, we have so many self-judgments that we can’t possibly have any self-love. And if there’s no love for ourselves, how can we even pretend that we share love with someone else?
When we go into a relationship, we become selfish because we are needy. It’s all about me. We are so selfish that we want the person with whom we are sharing our life to be as needy as we are. We want “someone who needs me” in order to justify our existence, in order to feel that we have a reason to be alive. We think we are searching for love, but we are searching for “someone who needs me,” someone we can control and manipulate.
There is a way of control in human relationships because we are domesticated to compete for the control of the attention. What we call love- someone who needs me, someone who cares about me- isn’t love; it is selfishness. How can that work? Selfishness doesn’t work because there is no love there. Both people are starving for love. In the sex they have, they taste a little love and it becomes addictive because they are starving for love. But then all the judgments are there. All the fear. All the blame. All the drama.
Then we search for advice on love and sex. So many books are written about it, and just about all these books could be called “How to Be Sexually Selfish.” The intent is good, but where is love? They are not about learning to love; there is nothing to learn about love. Everything is already there in our genes, in our nature. We don’t have to learn anything, except what we invent in this world of illusion. We search for love outside ourselves when love is all around us. Love is everywhere, but we don’t have the eyes to see. Our emotional body is no longer tuned to love.
We are so afraid to love because it isn’t safe to love. The fear of rejection frightens us. We have to pretend to be what we are not; we try to be accepted by our partner when we don’t accept ourselves. But the problem is not that our partner rejects us. The problem is that we reject ourselves, because we are not good enough, because that is what we BELIEVE.
Self-rejection is the main problem. You are never going to be good enough for yourself when the idea of perfection is completely wrong. It’s a false concept; it’s not even real. But you believe it. Not being perfect, you reject yourself, and the level of self-rejection depends on upon how strong the adults were in breaking down your integrity.
After domestication, it is no longer about being good enough for anyone else. You are not longer good enough for yourself, because the big Judge is always there, reminding you that you are not perfect. As I said before, you can never forgive yourself for not being what you wish to be, and that’s the real problem. If you can change that, you take care of your half of the relationship. The other half is not your problem.
If you tell someone you love him, and that person says, “Well, I don’t love you,” is that a reason for you to suffer? Just because someone rejects you doesn’t mean you have to reject yourself. If one person doesn’t love you, someone else will love you. There is always someone else. And it’s better to be with someone who WANTS to be with you, than to be with someone who HAS to be with you. You have to focus on the most wonderful relationship you can have: the relationship with yourself. It is not about being selfish; it is about self-love. These are not the same. You are selfish with yourself because there is no love there. You need to love yourself, and the love will grow more and more. Then, when you enter a relationship, you don’t go into it because you need to be loved. It becomes a choice. You can choose someone if want to, and you can see who he really is. When you don’t need his love, you don’t have to lie to yourself.
You are complete. When love is coming out of you, you are not searching for love because you are afraid to be alone. When you have all that love for yourself, you can be alone and there’s no problem. You are happy to be alone, and to share is also fun.
If I like you and we go out together, is it because we want to be jealous, because I have a need to control you, or you have the need to control me? If it’s going to be that way, it isn’t fun. If I’m going to be criticized or judged, if I am going to feel bad, then: No, thank you. If I am going to suffer, maybe it’s better to be alone. Do people get together to have a drama, to possess each other, to punish each other, to be saved? Is it really why they get together? Of course, we have all those choices. But what are we really looking for?
When we are children- five, six, or seven years old – we are attracted to each other because we want to play, we want to have fun. We don’t spend time with another child because we want to fight and have a big drama. That can happen, but it’s going to be short-lived. We just keep playing and playing. When we get bored, we change the game, we change the rules, but we are exploring all the time. If you go into a partnership to have drama, because you want to be jealous, because you want to be possessive, because you want to control your partner’s life, you are not looking for fun, you are looking for pain, and that is what you are going to find. If you go into a relationship with selfishness, expecting that your partner is going to make you happy, it will not happen. And it’s not that person’s fault, it’s your own.
When we go into a relationship of any kind, it is because we want to share, we want to enjoy, we want to have fun, we don’t want to be bored. If we look for a partner, it is because we want to play, we want to be happy and enjoy what we are. We don’t choose a partner to give that person we claim to love all our garbage, to put all our jealousy, all our anger, all our selfishness onto that person. How can someone tell you, “I love you,” and then mistreat you and abuse you, humiliate you and disrespect you? That person may claim to love you, but is it really love? If we love, we want the best for those we love. Why put our garbage on our own children? Why abuse them because we are full of fear and emotional poison? Why blame our parents for our own garbage?
People learn to become selfish, and to close their hearts so tightly. They are starving for love, not knowing that the heart is a magical kitchen. YOUR heart is a magical kitchen. Open your heart. Open your magical kitchen, and refuse to walk around the world begging for love. In your hear is all the love you need. Your heart can create any amount of love, not just for yourself, but for the whole world. You can give your love with no conditions; you can be generous with your love because you have a magical kitchen in your heart. Then all those starving people who believe the heart is closed will always want to be near you for your love.
What makes you happy is love coming out of you. And if you are generous with your love, everyone is going to love you. You are never going to be alone if you are generous. If you are selfish, you are always going to be alone, and there is no one to blame, but you. Your generosity will open all the doors, not your selfishness.
Selfishness comes from poverty in the heart, from the belief that love is not abundant. We become selfish when we believe that maybe tomorrow we won’t have any pizza. But when we know that our heart is a magical kitchen, we are always generous, and our love is completely unconditional."