The Opposite of Need
"The best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other."
- Dalai Lama
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone (or something) that wasn't healthy? I think we all have at some level, at some point or another. I certainly know I have.
We can all too easily fall into the traps of need and want. Our consumer-based society prays on that very aspect of our human nature. We sometimes get convinced that we need something...often things we truly don't need at all. Just watch TV at 3 am on a Saturday and the Infomercial universe will prove my point.
That same inherent part of us can also fall victim to relationships with other people that are based on need; also inherently as unhealthy if not more so. When we are in relationship with others because they feed us in unhealthy ways, that isn't an authentic basis for True Relationship.
Part of the piece of that relational puzzle is that before we can be in True Relationship, we have to be in a healthy relationship with the person in the mirror. The age-old phrase about not being able to love someone else before you are able to love yourself is absolutely true. If we are genuinely happy with ourselves, we are likewise happy with what we have (and more aptly don't have), and in that calm contentment we find that we really don't need very much at all. When we are in that kind of space, we can enter into truly healthy, authentic relationship because we ourselves are Whole.
When we enter into connection with others based on true love - the kind of love that authentically respects, honors and lifts up the person and the spirit of the other - that kind of love has no basis in need whatsoever. It is directed outward, of and for the gift of the other person, and has nothing at all to do with ourselves. We certainly benefit in a multitude of ways from that kind of relationship, but the benefit isn't the basis upon which the relationship rests.
In that kind of relationship, based on that kind of love, we find the ability to love based on the inherent value and worth of all people. We are more readily able to forgive, to understand flaws, to be far less judgmental, and far more supportive.
As a person of faith, I discern that I am called to be in this kind of relationship with all people at all times. I can apply this kind of relationship to my family, my friends, those in my community of faith, and those in the world that I will never know and those in the world that drive me mad most of the time. Jesus loved people this way - in a selfless, outward-focused way - and calls upon us to do the same when he bids us to love one another as he loved us. In loving this way, he says, people will know we follow him.
When he says, "No one has greater love than this - to lay down his life for his friends" that is not a need-based love. No one authentically sacrifices out of need. Rather, we lay ourselves down for others not because we need but precisely because we don't need. Instead, we offer. We give. We reach out.
That's the exact opposite of need.
Would that so many around us, especially our elected officials of late, understand this more profoundly....