Falling in love feels like an accidental occurrence to many people, but in spiritual terms it is not--it is the entrance point to love's journey. Romance has several distinct phases of its own for us to explore--attraction, infatuation, courtship, and intimacy--each partaking of a special spiritual significance.
In the dawning of the next stage, falling in love turns into a committed relationship, usually marriage, and the path changes. Falling in love is over; being in love begins. Spiritually, the word being implies a state of the soul; it is this state that a couple learns to nurture through surrender, the key word in every spiritual relationship. Through surrender, the needs of the ego, which can be extremely selfish and unloving, are transformed into the true need of the spirit, which is always the same--the need to grow. As you grow, you exchange shallow, false feelings for deep, true emotions, and thus compassion, trust, devotion, and service become realities. Such a marriage is sacred; it can never falter because it is based on divine essence. Such a marriage is also innocent, because your only motive is to love and serve the other person. Surrender is the door one must pass through to find passion. Without surrender, passion is centered on a person's craving for pleasure and stimulation.
With surrender, passion is directed toward life itself--in spiritual terms, passion isthe same as letting yourself be swept away on the river of life, which is eternal and neverending in its flow. The final fruit of surrender is ecstasy: when you can let go of all selfish attachments, when you trust that love really is at the core of your nature,you feel complete peace. In this peace there is a seed of sweetness perceived in the very center of the heart, and from this seed, with patience and devotion, you nurture the supreme state of joy known as ecstasy. This, then, is the path to love described in much greater detail in my new book, although it isn't the only path. Some people do not fall in love and enter into relationships with a beloved.
But this does not mean that there is no path for them, only that the path has been internalized. For such people, the Beloved is entirely within themselves from the very outset. It is their soul or their image of God; it is a vision or a calling; it is a solitariness that blossoms into love for the One. In its own way, such a love story is also about relationship, because the final realizations are the same for all of us. To realize "I am love" is not reserved only for those who marry. It is a universal realization, cherished in every spiritual tradition. Or to put it most simply, all relationships are ultimately a relationship with God.
Excerpted from The Path to Love by Deepak Chopra. . Excerpted by permission of Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.