I have been reading "El Camino del Encuentro" by Jorge Bucay. Learning Spanish is opening up for me a new universe of thought and literature which is absolutely wonderful. I am only a third of the way through this book, so I could still change my opinion before the end. Reading in a language not one's own slows one down a bit. Nonetheless, so far, I am finding his approach refreshing and stimulating. You know that feeling that you get when you read a book that says clearly things that one has felt intuitvely for a long time?
Here I'd like to share just one bit of his philosophy. He is looking at the question of intimacy. What does it take to have an intimate relationship? He is not just talking about couples. Intimacy can occur between friends, between family members, even sometimes in work situations, though in the latter case it is going beyond the requirements of the job. Intimacy is that type of relationship in which one can drop one's defenses and be willing to take the risk of being more completely available to the other person and inviting them to reciprocate.
Bucay asserts that there are three necessary conditions for intimacy: love, attraction and trust. He then goes on to point out that none of these are within the range of one's will. I can choose to respect you, but I cannot choose to love you. I cannot choose to find you attractive. I cannot choose to trust you. Either I do find you trustworthy or I don't. Either I do find you attractive or I don't. Either I find you loveable or I don't. There is not much I can do about it from my side.
Of course, from your side, you can choose to act in ways that may lead me to find you more loveable, attractive and trustworthy or in ways that will undermine these for me. Similarly, the other way round. I can act in ways that will make it more likely that you will love me, trust me and find me attractive.
Bucay claims that all three are necessary. It is as a three legged table. It cannot sand without all three legs. This all seems to me liberatingly realistic. Injunctions to love everybody, find everybody attractive and trust everyone are not grounded in the real world. Injunctions to live in such a way that more people will love one, trust one and find one attractive, however, do have some grounding in reality.
This implies, of course, that one does not have a right to be loved, that one will not, in fact, be loved by everybody, that one does not actually love every other person, nor trust them, nor find them attractive. This is the real world. Spiritual awakening is not a matter of pretending that some unreal ideal is the case, but of waking up to how things actually are.
In this real world there is every reason to act well. It will, in general, lead to more intimacy and thus to more peak experience. Many people, however, exist in life situations where they think that they should have intimacy with this or that person and that such and such person owes them intimacy, but if the three factors of love, trust and attraction are simply not all there, it will not happen and no amount of pretending will make it so.
In my book Love and Its Disappointment I take it that love is a fundamental part of human existence, but not that one loves everything. In the approach that I used in that book, Bucay's "love2 and his "attracion" are conflated. I have to agree with him, however, that trust is also a very important variable. One can love a person and find them intensely attractive, but if experience tells you that they are not to be trusted, enduring intimacy is impossible and short term intimacy generally leads to pain and grief. On the other hand, one may have a comrade who is totally trustworthy and one may even share secrets with such a person, but there has to be something more, something in the realm of personal attraction or positive chemistry before one will, in practice, open one's heart to them fully.
Sometimes we proceed as though we think that all human problems can be solved to the point where we shall enjoy intimacy with everybody. This is unreal. It is not true that if we just communicate enough we shall reach such a point. With those whom we find loveable, attractive and trustworthy, yes; with others, no. Furthermore, the "others" are likely to be many. Yet, is this really a problem? Not really. A person needs some intimacy; they do not need intimacy with everybody.