Authors & Thought Leaders

Daphne Rose Kingma on Love’s Varied and Divine Corridors

Published on February 12, 2018

Article by Daphne Rose Kingma

In the spring of 1995, relationship expert, therapist and healer of the human heart Daphne Rose Kingma visited Bodhi Tree to discuss her book True Love: How to Make Your Relationship Sweeter, Deeper and More Passionate. Everyone wants true love, explains Kingma, who has written 13 best-selling books on love and relationships, but too many of us don’t know what to do to experience the love we desire or how to sustain love when it occurs in our lives. Love, she says, is more than an emotion; it is a state of being created and maintained by a series of attitudes and actions that can be taught. In this Bodhi Talk, she shows how our intimate relationships can be an infinite source of strength and happiness when we experience the profound sense of peace and security of spirit that comes from being deeply connected to another human being.

Psychotherapist Daphne Rose Kingma on Love’s Varied and Divine CorridorsDaphne Rose Kingma’s Story

Daphne Rose Kingma is a working psychotherapist, teacher and speaker who has helped thousands of individuals and couples understand and improve their relationships. She is the author of numerous books, the most recent of which is The Ten Things To Do When Your Life Falls Apart: An Emotional and Spiritual Handbook. Her titles include the classic on ending a relationship, Coming Apart: Why Relationships End And How To Live Through The Ending of Yours; The Future of Love: The Power of The Soul in Intimate Relationships; Finding True Love; The Men We Never Knew; To Have and To Hold: A Wedding Keepsake; and The Book of Love [Editor’s Note: This book is now out of print].

Kingma speaks to large organizations and in intimate settings throughout the United U.S. and Europe. She teaches workshops at The Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, and at the Hollyhock Institute on Cortes Island, British Columbia, as well as tailoring workshops for private individuals and organizations. Dubbed “The Love Doctor” by the San Francisco Chronicle, her talent for sifting out the core emotional issues in any life situation has also earned her the affectionate title “The Einstein of Emotions.” Her books have sold more than a million copies and have been translated into 15 languages. —Justine Amodeo

“Compliments are the verbal nourishment of the soul. They generate self-esteem, and in a very subtle way create a person in the full spectrum of his or her essence. Compliments invite the person who is complimented to embrace a new perception of him or herself. And just as layers and layers of nacre form a pearl over an irritating grain of sand, so compliments collect around us, developing us in all our beauty.” —Daphne Rose Kingma

The following is an edited version of Daphne Rose Kingma’s Bodhi Tree Bookstore presentation from 1995.

Daphne Rose Kingma: Whenever I talk about a book, it’s like coming back to school in the fall and your teacher gives you that assignment, “What did you do over your summer vacation?” Well, the standard thing you always say to yourself when you’re bringing out a new book is, “Why did I write this book?”

I’d like to tell you a little bit about the history of the writing of my books. The first of which was Coming Apart [in 1989], which I wrote about for people who were ending their relationships. I often say that I wrote that book in self-defense, because that year I was working with so many people who were ending their relationships. They all came to me and said, “Isn’t there a book I can read about this terrible experience that I’m going through?” I realized that there was no such book, and so Coming Apart came into being as a document to tell people about the emotional process a person goes through when a relationship is ending. It’s a very interesting process with very recognizable steps, and as they read it, people were relieved to discover that if they were ready to ax-murder the person who’d left them, they were doing something that was very normal in the healing process.

Transcending the Reputation as the “Divorce Queen”

After that book had been out for a time, I began to get a reputation as the “Divorce Queen.” It was like, “If you want to get divorced, go see her.” And that was not an identity that I felt comfortable with; what I really wanted to do was to talk to people about what it is to have a wonderful relationship, to be emotionally connected with them, and to talk about how you might nurture and nourish that relationship. I didn’t want to just pick up the pieces; I wanted to be the fanfare that would encourage a relationship into existence.

So then I wrote a book called True Love, first published in 1991, which is a lovely little book which teaches people about how to love one another; how to be kind; how to have a good fight; how to share the difficult, boring, tedious, awful chores and obligations of life that you inevitably get when you love somebody. You think it’s going to be bliss and romance, but it’s garbage pails and socks. I wanted to write a book that would really encourage people to somehow find their way through the maze of an emotional relationship.

The X-factor in Relationships

Then I wrote a book of wedding ceremonies, to encourage people into this state of bliss and transfiguration, and also a book of meditations on love called A Garland of Love [1992]. This was followed by The Men We Never Knew [1994], which really refers to men in all their emotional depth, and it is a chance to get acquainted with the difficulties men sometimes have in expressing emotions. I realized that as I was traveling down the path of studying and living relationships, that there was a mysterious X-factor that hadn’t been accounted for. You can tell two people how to behave and how to talk about their difficulties and how to negotiate their sexual encounters and how to be kind to each other, but somehow there was also a mysterious thing that is always operating in relationships, and that is the mystery of gender.

Having taken on the whole “battle” of gender in that book, I once again come back, as one does in life, to the idea that has been my evolutionary theme, not only as a person, but in terms of my work. That is: What is it to be related to another human being, and what are the questions about this mysterious engagement called an intimate relationship that are important now? And so I realized—and it didn’t take much thinking because we’ve all been quietly moving in that direction—that the real frontier of relationships is the matter of bringing our spiritual consciousness to our relationships. The truth is that we have tended to think of relationships in a very confined, defined and limited sort of way. It’s a very specific format yet we are all beginning to sense that there is something more to relatedness than the limited focus of “relationship books” or “relationship workshops.”

Relationship as a Cosmic Phenomenon

Relatedness is the very essence of how we interact in the world. We are related to everything and everyone, and relationship as a phenomenon is the only context in which we can comprehend anything. We comprehend the dark by its relationship to the light. We comprehend evil by its antithesis to goodness. We comprehend earth by its balance with the sky and so, as the physicists are telling us now, there is no such thing as perceiving the cosmos except in terms of the constantly shifting relationship of every molecule in the universe. And they’re beginning to drop their old explanations and bow to the mystery of the amazing truth that everything is responding in relationship to everything else.

The truth is that while we’ve been living and struggling in our little hackneyed, desperate, exciting, romantic, passionate, intimate human relationships, we are really living in a cosmos that is vibrating with relationship itself. That is the territory that I really wanted to investigate, for it brings into collusion two kinds of love that really operate for us all the time, the ones with which we’re most familiar.

The Heart as Container for Unfinished Business

The love of the heart is the love we usually feel and comprehend when we fall in love with someone. Suddenly, the heart is the emotional organ of the body and it opens and it flutters and it tells us that we’re experiencing connection with another human being; and it makes all sorts of wonderful propositions and promises, and creates all sorts of delirious expectations for us and we feel invincible and immortal and beautiful and fabulous. Our hearts have opened and we are exposed to this world of feelings. And you know the realm of emotions is very powerful in that it’s constantly being registered in our physical bodies. That’s why the love of the heart is this love that’s embodied in our physical being: when we’re angry, we feel it. And it’s not an idea, it’s an actual physical experience. The emotional realm exists within our physical body and is always registering our emotional experience.

One of the most important things of this relationship of the heart, of the emotional being, is that it is also the container for the unfinished business of our histories. In other words, this relationship becomes the place for working through, “Oh, yes, you’re just like my mother and now, suddenly, I feel this pain of being an abandoned child.” And this pain isn’t something we can coolly look back at and say, “Well, that happened to me when I was two and now I’m 42, so it doesn’t matter anymore.” Instead, suddenly the past becomes the present to us. We’re re-immersed in it. And the great gift of these sometimes excruciating emotional relationships is that we are given this gift of our past to renew and to resolve.

Often, we’re not conscious enough or brave enough and it’s the gift of our emotional love that we fall in love in spite of these incredible tasks that we know we’ll have to undertake. Love carries along with it magic, hormones, moonlight, music, its wonderful little rituals that charm us and lift us out of the ordinariness of life and so we say, “Yes, I’ll do it. I’ll do it.” And we’re not saying, “Are you going to turn out to be my father three years down the road?” We’re saying, “Thank you for being here. Of course, I’ll go on this journey. Wherever it takes me. Until death do us part.”

Now, most people don’t do this consciously. They don’t say, “Well, I fell in love with you because of your blue eyes and because you’re going to take me through the pit of hell that I went through as a child, but was never able to consciously resolve.” We are inexorably led to the people who indeed reenact these dramas for us. And that is both the tragedy and the beauty of our emotional relationships, because they keep pressing in on us and saying, “You see, here’s this thing you haven’t solved yet. You haven’t solved that abandonment issue.” Or, “Here’s another thing you haven’t solved yet. You haven’t solved the fact that you were overpowered and criticized and dominated and violated by your father’s ego.” It’s like, here it is again. Here it is for you to look at it. And every person who enters into an intimate relationship with you is in a sense offering him or herself and saying, “I will stand here as the father you must forgive,” or, “I will stand here as the mother who abandoned you.”

The Elaborate Journey of Becoming

To live and to be able to move in life with this love of the soul and body is to truly be able to live from that vantage point. To know in the most profound and elegant sense that everything happens for a reason and everyone happens for a reason and even the terrible reasons happen for a reason because we’re on this elaborate, exquisite journey of becoming. A lifetime may be the tiniest slide in an ongoing fabulous multifaceted slideshow that goes on for eons! But to live and to be able to move in life with this love of the soul and body is to truly be able to live from that vantage point.

And a person steps into our life to heal something, reveal something, clarify something, develop something; we’re constantly in this process of creation. But when we look at a relationship on the soul level, we see that it’s not just better behavior that’s being created by the presence of this other person, but really a quality of illumination. And that quality of illumination is being able to see, to understand the profound interconnectedness that we step into when we step into life as human beings.

What you feel when you fall in love is universal. However ordinary or simple your own love may appear to be, to your heart and soul it is a grand love. Like David and Bathsheba, Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Abelard and Heloise, your love, too, is an experience of wonder and ecstatic belonging that will draw you into life’s most tragic and beautiful moments.

Through love you become part of a sacred tradition, that great lineage of all those who have plighted their truth, promised their hearts to one another, chosen to live and die for love, and known that love was the only thing worth living for. We need love. We seek love because in every cell of our being, we know that love is the only thing we cannot live without.

I’m really inviting us to shift that context from the little picture to the big picture, from saying, “It’s just you and me and what we’re doing to each other,” to “It’s you and me and the whole world.” To see the person you love as a being of divinity and not just a human being with psychological issues, to see that everything we do and everyone who steps across our path is part of that infinite and beautiful design.

Taking Relationships to a Soul Level

Question: You have said in your books that if I have problems with a person or my partner on a heart level, I must take it to the soul level and realize that it’s much deeper. But how do I convey what is happening to my partner? How do I express that; or is it even necessary when you go to that deep level?

Daphne Rose Kingma: Sometimes when you go to a deeper level, you don’t even need to communicate it because you have found a resolution. It’s like, “Oh, I see what this is really about and I’ve found a resolution,” and so you don’t have to say, “By the way, I see that, you brought me this great lesson.” It depends on the quality of your relationship. Would the person be open to really hearing that? Is the person with you at that soul level so that you can say, “I see that this is perfect what we’ve been going through here together because our loss and our conflict has opened me up to a very deep place and thank you for bringing me the lesson.”

Question: You said that one thing we cannot do without is love. I feel like in my life, I try to find that love in a partner and I wonder if I’m really on a search for God. Why don’t I go directly for God?

Kingma: That’s a very good question. Some people do go directly for God and, sooner or later, most of them have to come back to us, to the man or the woman, because we happen to be human beings. We are not just souls drifting around the outer stratospheres like a lavender vapor; we are here as human beings. We are embodied and we have an emotional body and we’re going through this particular bardo or graduate school or boot camp or whatever you want to call it. We’re here in this particular experience, which offers us the woman or the man to love. It’s like, “You want to go to this school? Well, these are the textbooks here.” Or, “You want to go to this school? These are the exercises to do.”

Drinking from the Well of Love

What I have noticed over many years is that people who go directly to the spiritual level are often misfits on the human level. They may consider themselves very enlightened but they can’t treat their partners with dignity or they can’t listen to their children or they’re so busy meditating that they can’t do their laundry. They haven’t engaged with the fact of their incarnation, and I believe that we must all do this. Now there are different ways of doing it. In our culture, we live in a psychological milieu. This is our Western Judeo-Christian tradition. Our culture is psychological. So, we are living not just our incarnation, but our culture and our society, too. We’re being asked to move through this maze of human relationships because our whole culture is based on the mythos and the pathos of relationship as an intimate interchange. It is a path we have to go through and that if that were not so, we wouldn’t be here trying to do it.

Question: I thought maybe it’s my ego getting carried away trying to distract me, but I hear you say that’s not the case.

Kingma: No, it’s not your ego trying to distract you. It’s really asking for the human experience of love. It’s saying, “This is the experience in this world in which we get a taste of that.” Where are we going to have that experience of illumination and the whole cosmological solar enlightenment or whatever you want to call it? Are we going to have it by sitting on a mountain for 55 years with our legs crossed? Maybe, but in our experience, we’re more likely to have it because we have an absolutely soul-touching encounter for a moment with another human being. It may not be that way for 30 years of marriage and it may not be exactly that way, but it’s in this human experience that we’re granted an opportunity to taste it. That’s why it’s so important that we not only taste it, but drink deeply, too.

True Love: How to Make Your Relationship Sweeter, Deeper and More Passionate (Conari Press)

By Daphne Rose Kingma

This nurturing volume is a course for encouraging the skills of loving, alive with proven methods for enhancing relationships and deepening intimacy. Kingma shows us that real love consists of taking care of yourself, the other person, and the relationship itself.

In the first part of the book, “The Conditions of Love,” Kingma offers some of the insights we need to create a felicitous climate for love. The second part, “The Practices of Love,” explores gestures and actions that ensure the flourishing of intimacy. Then in the concluding part, “The Transformation of Love,” she provides ways to call upon the power of love to recast us into the best individuals we can be.

True Love is a witty, poetic and celebratory introduction to the essence of love with many practical suggestions on how to nurture the love we desire. Written with grace and a beautiful down-to-earth style, this book teaches us how to enhance and enrich our relationships.

Published on: February 12, 2018

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