Fierce Love Rules

February 12th, 2015

fierce love rules

My daughter reminded me of the unruly nature of fierce love when she was much younger. In our home, we have one of those Ruggles (heart shapes in nature) poster with the words “Love is where you find it.” It’s a constant reminder to find love wherever you are and part of the spirit we want to build in our home. Of course it’s not always easy to remember this truth nor is it neat and orderly. One day my daughter was feeling a bit hard done by. She was having a mini tantrum and blurted out, “Love is NOT where you find it.” I had to hold back my giggles. But I’ve never loved her more than in that moment. Whenever I see random heart shapes now I think of her fierce wisdom, the truth of authentic love. Instead of getting the giggles, I get the ruggles, the reminder that love is real and everywhere and surprising and not always soft and mushy.

As you can imagine this was no laughing matter to my daughter. It was a raw expression of being misunderstood and after saying the words, she composed herself quickly. Within minutes she was skipping around the house. All was forgiven. She did not get her way, but learnt that she could get over disappointment and move on. She had learnt another, tough, side of love, and so had I.

Just as love heart shapes can be found in the most natural and basic materials, so fierce love is found in the most fundamental, the rawest, of human emotions, including despair, confusion and disappointment.

The classic 80’s song said “You can’t hurry love.” Hurry? You can barely control it at all. It has a mind of its own. The American author Tom Robbins put it beautifully,

Love is the ultimate outlaw. It won’t adhere to rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question.

Security is out of the question. When you become love’s accomplice, you will steal hearts, and break and enter into the most secure personal space. As Bruno Mars sang, “Take a grenade for love. Do anything for love.” Do it without a trace of certainty that your love will be received or reciprocated.
The principle applies equally to social activism as it does to personal romance. When you follow love’s fierce call, it offers no guaranteed outcomes or timeline.

Fierce love is risky business. It is an act of faith. But the greater the risk, the more powerful the growth and adventure. Without the comfort of security, fierce love achieves something far more powerful; honest engagement with reality.

Fierce love is transformative, especially when you stretch your love beyond the people who are easiest to love and include those who are harder to love. The Jewish masters tell a story about an old man walking down a road. The story is told by a passerby who watched the whole thing take place. A horseman appears out of nowhere and charges straight toward the old man who has to throw himself into a ditch to save himself. Clambering out of the ditch, the old man shakes his fist at the horseman riding off into the distance and shouts, “May you be blessed. May your deepest desires be fulfilled!”

The passerby is amazed and asks the man, “Why would you wish such a good thing for someone who nearly killed you?”

The old man answers, “If his deepest desires were fulfilled, he would have no need to run an old man off the road?”

The people who are hardest to love need it the most. The parts of each of us that are least loveable are the parts that need the most loving. This sort of loving requires fierce acceptance.

Fierce love is there waiting for you to remove all the barriers and become its accomplice. Fierce love IS you. It comes without any money back guarantees of security. But it comes with something far more powerful. It comes with the absolute certainty that you will feel alive and you WILL grow. The certainty of growth is one thing you can take to the bank.

In March 2015, we’re launching a new online program on Fierce Love. You can read more about it and sign up for free here.

I interviewed some incredible leaders  and activists and asked each of them the question, What does fierce love mean to you? The responses were incredible. Those interviewed include Noam Chomsky, Lisa Wimberger, Paul Hawken, Rha Goddess, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Celia Alario, Andrew Harvey and SO many more.

I’m excited to share it with you. Please sign up and share widely. The world needs our fiercest love more than ever right now.

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  1. Tenzin Chosang says:

    Hi IanThis sounds great! You probably know  what Morgan Scott Peck said about love in his book The Road Less Travelled but it is one of my favourite definitions of love. He wrote (the italics are mine):Discipline, it has been suggested, is the means of human spiritual evolution. This section will examine what lies in the back of discipline – what provides the motive, the energy for discipline. This force I believe to be love. I am very conscious of the fact that in attempting to examine love we will be attempting to examine the unexaminable and to know the unknowable. Love is too large, too deep ever to be truly understood or measured or limited in the framework of words. I would not write this if I did not believe the attempt to have value but no matter how valuable, I begin with the certain knowledge that the attempt will be in some ways inadequate.   One result of the mysterious nature of love is the no one has ever, to my knowledge, arrived at a truly satisfactory definition of love. In an effort to explain it, therefore, love has been divided into various categories: eros, philia, agape; perfect love and imperfect love, and so on. I am presuming however to give a single definition of love, again with the awareness that it is likely to be in some way or ways, inadequate. I define love thus: The will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.  At the outset I would like to comment briefly on this definition before proceeding to a more thorough elaboration. First, it may be noticed that it is a teleological definition; the behaviour is defined in terms of the goal or purpose it seems to serve – in this case, spiritual growth. Scientists tend to hold teleological definitions suspect, and perhaps they will this one. I did not arrive at it, however, through a clearly teleological process of thinking. Instead I arrived at it through observation of my clinical practice of psychiatry (which includes self-observation) in which the definition of love is a matter of considerable import. This is because patients are generally very confused as to the nature of love…  One of the major distinguishing features between (acts of love and what seemed not to be love) seemed to be the conscious or unconscious purpose in the mind of the lover or the nonlover.   Second it may be noticed that as defined, love is a strangely circular process. For the process of extending oneself is an evolutionary process. When one has successfully extended one’s limits, one has then grown into a larger state of being. Thus the act of loving is an act of self-evolution even when the purpose of the act is someone else’s growth. It is through reaching toward evolution that we evolve.   Third, this unitary definition of love includes self love with love for the other. Since I am human and you are human, to love humans means to love myself as well as you. To be dedicated to the human spiritual development is to be dedicated to the race of which we are part, and this therefore means dedication to our own development as well as ‘theirs’. Indeed, as has been pointed out, we are incapable of loving another unless we love ourselves, just as we are incapable of teaching our children self-discipline unless we ourselves are self-disciplined. It is actually impossible to forsake our own spiritual development in favour of someone else’s. We cannot forsake self-discipline and at the same time be disciplined in the care for another. We cannot be a source of strength unless we nurture our own strength. As we proceed in our exploration of the nature of love, I believe it will become clear that not only do self-love and love of others go hand in hand but that ultimately they are indistinguishable.   Fourth, the act of extending one’s limits implies effort. One extends one’s limits only to be exceeding them, and exceeding limits requires effort. When we love someone our love becomes demonstrable or real only through our exertion – through the fact that for that someone (or for ourself) we take an extra step or walk an extra mile. Love is not effortless. To the contrary, love is effortful.   Finally, by use of the word ‘will’ I have attempted to transcend the distinction between desire and action. Desire is not necessarily translated into action. Will is desire of sufficient intensity that it is translated into action. The difference between the two is equal to the difference between saying ‘I would like to go swimming tonight’ and ‘I will go swimming tonight’. Everyone in our culture desires to some extent to be loving, yet many are in fact not loving. I therefore conclude that the desire to love is not itself love. Love is as love does. Love is an act of will – namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love. No matter how much we may think we are loving, if we are in fact not loving, it is because we have chosen not to love and therefore do not love despite our good intentions. On the other hand, whenever we do actually exert ourselves in the cause of spiritual growth, it is because we have chosen to do so. The choice to love has been made.   Although it doesn’t seem to have much to do with fierce love (or perhaps it does!), I also like  Friedrich von Hugel’s: “The golden rule is to help those we love to escape from us and never try to begin to help people, or influence them until they ask, but wait for them.” Much love :  )Tenzin.   

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