– Excerpt from the Introduction of Ralph Alan Dale’s translation of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching
The Great Integrity is love. It is the love that uniquely expresses our deepest unarmored bonds with each other. On the highest level we become love. Our language, like all other aspects of our culture, tends to obfuscate our loss of wholeness and humanity. Since the experience of love requires this very wholeness and humanity that we have for the most part lost, our use of the term most often refers to the perversions of love that are compensatory for this loss. We might differentiate 5 types of love. The first three are pathological contradictions of the Great Integrity, and the last two are healthy expressions of It.
The first type is possessive love, that is loving an object because we are capable of possessing it, or at least believing that we possess it. Even one’s mate might be loved as an object. This is the most alienated form of love and is widely practiced since the civilizations of the past 5000 years have been focused on possessing. All objects are viewed for their value to exchange and accumulate. Success is defined as the power to accrue and maintain the largest number of desirable objects. People too are objectified, primarily as the means to create the objects to be acquired, so control over those who produce those objects becomes a basic test of success. The objectification of nature and of human labor, when extended to personal relations takes many forms, for example, male chauvinism, which is a typical expression of love as possession. Clearly, possessive love is not only toxic to our humanity but inverts and perverts the very act of loving itself, turning it from a selfless and spontaneous experience of human fulfillment to a selfish and manipulative act.
The second type of love is sometimes referred to as codependent love. It is rooted in the experience of powerlessness and expresses itself as an addiction to control or to be controlled. A relationship of codependent love is a struggle for competing dependencies and results in the mutual exploitation of maturities. Codependency prevents self-growth and independence, as well as genuine fulfillment. It is also a contradiction of the Great Integrity, but on a lesser level than the first possessive type of love.
The third type of love might be called romantic love. It is generally an unconscious escapist attempt to compensate for the absence of self-appreciation. It is therefore generally a search for that “perfect” mate who is imagined as having the qualities that the romantic lover lacks. Although less pathological than possessive or codependent love, romantic love also contradicts the Great Integrity by its compensatory functions that drive a wedge between the essential self and the imagined deficient self, as well as between the essential order and the imagined “perfect” mate.
The fourth type of love is subjective love. It is the expression of a state of lovingness. There are no ulterior motives, no objects of material value to be acquired. The person who experiences subjective love is relatively without armor. Love is freely given and received. In such love, we are not fixated on a single possessive or codependent or romantic object of our love, but we love, and are loved by many people. Moreover, in subjective love, not only human beings, but animals, birds, plants, rocks, art, the entire gamut of nature and the environment, the entire universe tends to be experienced in a loving way. In this fourth form of love, many layers of armoring are shed, and we live more in harmony with each other, with nature and with our own human natures. It is the healthiest and most fulfilling level of love that our present epoch of transition offers as a potential expression of the Great Integrity.
In the fifth type, we will experience love beyond its objective and subjective forms. We will become love. It is the experience of our total humanity, ,stripped of every shred of alienation, tripped of every premise of aggressive civilization. It is complete self and social actualization. Indeed, it is the ideal state of being that Lao Tzu defines as the Great Integrity, and is realizable only in the Third Epoch.
As long as we live within acquisitive societies, we will be deprived of the fifth type of love, which is to say that all of us today are incapable of fully experiencing the Great Integrity. Within civilization, the Great Integrity can only be dreamed, sensed, and vicariously or tentatively experienced. It cannot define the everyday experiential core of our being until we live an alternative life style that has completely healed the divisions between privileged and underprivileged, left and right brain, between us and them, and between the ego us and the id us. The Great Integrity requires the transcendence of all the fragmentation that have defined our personal and social lives during the past few millennia. Lao Tzu’s Great Integrity is nothing less than the total liberation of each and all of us to experience this universe in its own terms, transcending all objectivity and subjectivity while never having to sacrifice our humanity, that is, our ability to function with a higher consciousness than the rest of nature.
Such a state is difficult for us to imagine since it lies so beyond the capabilities of our everyday experience which is still locked in the chains of civilization. At this point in time, Lao Tzu’s Guide to the Theory and Practice of the Great Integrity allows us a closer look at our future, a clearer glimpse of its shapes and feelings, and an insight into our own uncorrupted Essence that is reborn on a higher level each moment that we take another step toward our own emancipation.