~ To love someone truly is to see them as they are ~
I was recently listening to a talk by a Christian monk who shared his personal journey into monasticism. He talked about his college years, and how it would have led him to a comfortable life with a high paying salary, great family life, and the fulfillment of the so-called American dream. But towards the end of his college, he began to feel a sense of emptiness and disillusionment, as the comforts of the material world were no longer satisfying. So he shifted his eyes inward, seeking. Seeking that which would dissolve some of his pre-conditioning of this world, and unveil the doorways of his heart – to that which would truly fulfill him emotionally and in all ways humanly possible. For him, the answer was monasticism.
But had it not been for the disillusionment he experienced from his relationships, social circles and material life, and naturally the hurt from that, he would not have been willing to move away from the inertia, and pave his own path – the one true for him, rather than the expectations from others, or the limitations of the shoulds and musts we burden ourselves with.
It’s curious to me that disillusionment is a negative word in our modern culture. As humanity we often seek to protect ourselves and all people from becoming disillusioned, and we build complex rationalizations and distractions from becoming disillusioned. But how can we truly love if we live in fantasy or illusions? We don’t know what to love another truly means unless we approach this from truth and reality. Love can only happen after the disillusionment. Because we can’t even show up for others through the lens of fantasy; and we ourselves cannot truly love ourselves if we negate the truths within, because we are essentially negating parts of ourselves and what we truly need to feel fulfilled. Disillusionment is freedom.
When we are able to break from our illusions, we can finally put things in proper perspective, seeing things as they actually are rather than how we would like them to be; and this is when love begins. This is when we are able to also show up for people and give to another not in the way we think we should or want to be given in turn, but in the way they need. We are able to support better, love deeper, and see one another for our true selves. Out of disillusionment, we are able to build the true foundations that will hold us; and build the fertile moist lands upon which a relationship may become and grow.
The Spiritual Gift of Disillusionment
It is said that the greatest lesson a guru or spiritual teacher may teach you is disillusionment – because this is what will allow you to come into greater love and self awareness. It is also meant to teach us discernment and discerning deception for the purpose of self and soul growth; because it is human nature that we often prefer escapism and illusion, and keep ourselves stuck in those to our detriment, so learning to discern is one of our greatest initiations and spiritual gifts and lessons.
Idolization and devaluation always walk hand in hand, which is why God says never idolize. When we idolize one thing, we are simultaneously devaluing something or someone else, and attaching ourselves to a limiting cycle or cage of being – both internally and externally.
Absolutism sinks us in the water like stones. The beautiful nuances and complexity of human nature are lost – and we eventually lose ourselves also. There is no growth. There is no expansion. We’ve sunk, deep into the water, like stones.
When we are idolize someone, or some idea or thing, we are essentially paving the road to disappointment. When we idolize we limit ourselves and others to a consciousness that is actually flawed and biased – because it’s polarized and simply untrue. We also become easy prey to be controlled and manipulated because of this singular mindedness and inability to handle humanly faults and flaws that will inevitably happen. We also fail to awaken our ability to discern and apply critical thinking.
In a way, it is also abandoning ourselves – because we are unable to truly accept and love ourselves and others as the imperfect humans that we are. Holier-than-thou perspectives are extremely limiting beliefs. As we leave space for the unknown and the complexity of things, and the nuances of human beings, expansion and growth happens. We can’t understand unconditional love and God unless we can truly hold the complexities and nuances together.
The Macmillan Dictionary defines disillusionment as “the disappointed feeling you have when you discover that someone or something is not as good as you had believed.” While disappointment and disillusionment are hardly the kind of sentiments we want to embrace, they are a part of our human experience. They are often the powerful ignitors of change, meaningful transformation and self growth.
Disillusionment is a spiritual initiation towards discernment and the application of critical thinking; and it opens the doorways to true love. People who live in illusions and fantasy for their beloved or relationships don’t actually know how to love – because they don’t love the person, they don’t see the other person for who they truly are. So how is it love? It’s not.
Disillusionment allows us to humility to see the reality of ourselves, another person, our world, and come into truth. It strips us off false beliefs, takes off the rose coloured glasses and frees us – so that we can now more accurately and honestly assess and make clearer decisions. We are freed of operating like robots, following all blindly, and we are free of false ideas and beliefs.
We are freed from deception – and that’s one of the highest spiritual lessons: to learn to discern deception and practice the clarity of mind.
Once we come upon this clarity of mind and greater insight, seeing a more realistic perspective of our current reality, we’ll be able to make more informed decisions and take the necessary steps towards living a more authentic life of greater maturity and self-authority, trust and reliance. While we must wrestle with the discomfort created by disillusionment, it will eventually bring us to the point of meaningful change and transformation – a point when we no longer move through our daily actions in auto pilot, but rather, with intentionality and a deliberate sense of purpose, seek out the things we truly want.
Love can only happen after the disillusionment
Regarding relationships – disillusionment allows us to see the reality of one another – we get a very sober look at who our partner is, and perhaps who we are too with them and within the relationship. While uncomfortable and unpleasant and sometimes even quite repulsive, it is an invitation for a more honest and true love to happen one way or another.
Flaws and all, we finally see the reality and can make an informed decision – whether there is still enough love to work with and move forward more honestly and authentically, or not. And if not, that’s okay too – we can still be grateful for the time spent together, and we’ll each find the right one for us on our true paths.
Disillusionment isn’t a bad thing. It can be purposeful and powerful, and for some people – it is needed. Once you see the reality of who you are, individually and together, you can now make the decision of whether there is enough love to keep you forward and work through things, or if it is time to go your separate paths, and just leave with gratitude for the time you’ve shared together and what you learned through one another.
Disillusionment is a spiritual initiation for discernment, critical thinking and maturation; an allowance for some new awareness to enter us and help us grow in a way we could not have otherwise when we were merely young apprentices following the master’s teachings. It is time for us to grow up now. This is no longer about following others, it is about you shifting your eyes inward and strengthening your spiritual core, aligning to higher values, and developing clarity of mind. Because this world is a tricky wonderland into which we’ve fallen like Alice – and without your critical thought, you’ll be lost and may not come out to the surface.
This is an opportunity to connect to the God within, connect to the high heart and use the inner lantern fired by love, compassion, clarity, discernment, discipline and integrity. Let go of the safety net that someone sitting on a world stage will always be able to tell you what’s right or wrong, what do you think? What are your values? What fulfills you? No one else can walk your path for you. It is a path we pave ourselves, and if it means we need to no longer fit someone else’s narrative, so be it.
Authenticity has never been truly supported in our world, and surely it can feel lonely when we walk our true path and soul’s purpose. But we need that freedom, as only this will give us fulfillment. Don’t let others mold you into what you should be, so that they replay their own narratives through you. When you walk in self truth, soul truth, people may not like you, because you’d be triggering in them their own inability to be true to themselves. But you need to do what’s true for you.
Free yourself from illusions you may have built around your ability to control things. Free yourself from the illusions that our cultures and institutions are impenetrably secure. Free yourself from the illusion that we are self-sustaining and don’t need to rely on one another and community – love and life are about interdependence. Free yourself from the illusion that you need to carry all burdens by yourself, no, you are not responsible for all, everyone and everything – ask for support when you need it, and offer your help and support to others also. Free yourself from the societal models of worth built off of output, success, money, career status and measurement. You’re more than that.
An object in motion tends to stay in motion. So allow yourself the time for some quietness, self reflection and radical self honesty. Do not fear being honest with yourself about what truly matters to you. Allow yourself an opportunity for a deepening. And in time, I promise you, you will feel a much deeper fulfillment in your life – you’ll come into real freedom, freedom of heart, freedom in soul, freedom in love and within love.
For more of my writings, browse through my Art of Love.
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Cover art by Nicholas Konstantinovich Roerich, via Wikimedia Commons.