Sunday, September 3, 2017

What's romantic love got to do with it? UU and its seventh principle.

Hector, in your comment yesterday on the article "Cosmic Consciousness and Unitarian Universalism" you wrote, "In the couples I counsel the often hold a secret resentment which goes, "You used to love me and still could, if only you would, but you won't because you________." We blame our unhappiness on our partner as if it were in his/her power to make us happy. This assumption is, of course, delusional, because our partner can't make him/her self happy. How could (s)he take responsibility for our happiness? The answer is not to look for happiness in external relationships, but to seek happiness within. Jesus said, I believe, that the kingdom of God is within you." Unitarian Universalism teaches that happiness resides in the respect for the interdependent web of all existence.

It is interesting how we, in Western Civilization, put special relationships, especially those based on romantic love, on a pedestal to be worshiped. This worship goes on in our arts such as music, movies, TV shows, literature, as well as gossip, and personal stories where these relationships are held up as a path to our salvation or damnation depending on the arc of the story. We have ignored or forgotten that these special relationships are but a small part of the interdependent web of all existence and often they blind us to it because of the intense focus and drama which these relationships entail for us. We would do well to remember Tina Turner's great song, What Does Love Got To Do With It?

To those with higher levels of consciousness, there is an awareness that romantic love is an illusion and special relationships are a counterfeit substitute for the authentic fulfillment and completion of ourselves that we seek. That authentic fulfillment and completion can only come with reunion with the creative energy of the universe, the interdependent web of all existence of which our physical bodies are only a temporary manifestation. We spent so much time and energy looking for that fulfillment, completion, and peace in all the wrong places.

Universalism teaches that God loves us unconditionally and forgives our separation and is waiting patiently for our reunion. And so, Hector, thank you for your comment and sharing what you have learned from your couples' counseling. It helps us understand a tremendous source of our unhappiness on the ego plane. It would be well if we could rise above the idolatry we practice with romantic relationships. Overcoming this idolatry would be a major step in bringing a higher quality joy and peace to our human existence and creating heaven on earth.

All the best, and thanks for your comments,



  1. A Course In Miracle explains the maxim of the ego which is "Seek but do not find." The ego would have us beieve that we can find completion and God's love in special relationships but this belief is but an enduring delusion which most of humankind learns better as they age and become wiser, but for young people who make the mistake of making an other person the center of their lives it brings great pain and sometimes, in its extreme, even homicide and suicide as we read about tragically in our news.

    The idea of the meaning of the seventh principle in UU is very interesting and I find it satisfying to reflect on. Thank you for a thoughtful post.

    1. Making others the center of our lives is a distraction from our own deep seated anxiety. We must be careful in making others responsible for our happiness. If we take this approach seriously, we wind up feeling like victims because we perceive the other person as holding out on us or deliberately doing things that have nothing to do with us which we nonetheless take personally. This brings us great anguish and is a leads us to want death because the pain we have inflicted on ourselves with our misguided attempts to find happiness have failed.

  2. It seems that the point Hector and David are agreeing on is that romantic love is not the real deal. It is often a chimera, a phantom, a longing for something from another which they can't give because they don't have it themselves, and when the expected gift is not received and obtained, the expectant "lover" is pissed. One might think that we would have become wiser in all these centuries since romantic love came on the scene in Western civilization. The power of romantic love to keep us captured in lives of suffering born out of illusion is amazing and worthy of more study and reflection. The UUs are onto something with their seventh principle as you point out. It is not the special, unique relationships that will bring us happiness but the awareness of our place in the web of all existence which is an awesome mystery so far beyond romantic love that we can't find the words to express it and so don't that much about it as we do the more mundane.

  3. When I was a young woman and loved had failed me a few times, I read in some book that we can love somebody and hope they will love us back we have not right to expect it. That seemed right to me and so I gave up my expectations but held onto my hopes. Now, I have learned that these hopes are even misplaced. These hopes are invested in fantasies that are misguided and ill placed. Now, I have given up on thinking that romantic love will make me happy and have found peace I never before experienced. Love God first with your whole knowledge, will, effort and hope. You will never be dissapointed and if by chance you are it will because you have desired your will not God's will.

  4. Check out Alain de Botton's talk "On love." It's wonderful and fits with what is posted above. click here

  5. As Alain de Botton points out one of the most insane beliefs of all which takes the idea of a special relationship to the extreme is the fanciful belief in a soul mate whom once found will always understand you perfectly and you'll never feel lonely again.


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