There’s an amazing quote from teacher and spiritualist Kim Eng, which lately I seem to be passing around a lot more frequently than usual. I’d gleaned it from a talk she’d given, in where a very brave audience member presented her with a personal struggle, one that primarily focused on abandonment.

 After several exchanges between the two, Eng eventually brings the young woman to a realization that might not be all too familiar. She states: “People love at their level of consciousness.”

When I first heard this profound statement (posted on YouTube about a year ago under the same title), it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was a response that immediately brought clarity to several relationships of mine that had lacked significant closure and where resolution seemed rather elusive. 

There was an equally-important component to a line of thinking that was also addressed in the video, which is that we tend to hold onto an expectation of what love is and how it should be shown to us. Quite often and in countless ways, it manifests as displaced emotions, whose origins are not so conspicuous.

As I have learned on multiple occasions, a less conscious person is, more often than not, prone to respond in a particular manner, despite having experienced similar prior situations from which to gain insight. We tend to find comfort in these “fixed” approaches; reluctant to expand our breadth or scope of potential alternatives. It should come as no surprise that subsequent relationships will often result in comparable outcomes due to an unwillingness to change.

Once we accept that there is a direct correlation between our level of consciousness or awareness and the kind of love we are receiving, then it’s time to address our most common adversary: ego. Ego as it is commonly defined in Eastern philosophy refers to attachment — a clinging to things, to ideas or to a sense of self. 

Because many of us have been raised with a given set of expectations based upon our family’s traditional values and beliefs, those expectations frequently become the fall-back or default mode that we turn to when developing new relationships. Hence, by maintaining an outdated inflexible position (regardless of the subject or nature of a relationship), one is ultimately limiting the opportunities and potential for personal growth. 

Ms. Eng demonstrates this point rather succinctly when she delves further into the anger that the young woman has expressed towards her emotionally-deficient father. She so desperately is looking for, and has an expectation of unconditional love, which is just not there. 

The most difficult part, Ms. Eng asks, is “can you accept the level of consciousness that he is at?”  

It’s a question that each of us is confronted with time and again, especially when seeking some form of resolution for those relationships in our own lives that present us with enduring conflict. 

Conversely, when we pursue a path of consciousness, we become more adaptable to life and its struggles. The nature of our relationships is less codependent and contractual, ever-evolving, with fewer set boundaries or hardened expectations. How often have we heard the phase “it is what it is”? 

For some, the paradigm may seem a bit unconventional, with its foundation appearing to be more non-traditional than most others.

The growth that ultimately emerges from those choosing a more conscious approach to life is exponential. When we become aware; differentiating actual events from those situations and emotions which are perceived or conceptualized in our mind, the suffering begins to dissipate. As such, the running commentary that we would normally “add to the mix” throughout a given relationship becomes completely unnecessary.

Spiritualist Lama Surya Das reminds us in a passage from his book Awakening the Buddha Within: “What the Buddha taught is that we shouldn’t try to own each other, nor should we become so identified or attached to anything that we lose sight of reality – of the relativism and changing nature of all that is.” 

Dave Davis
Dave Davis teaches preschool for the Head Start program based at the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton, NY. He is also a frequent contributor to “Who Smarted?,” a popular educational podcast for elementary school children.

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