"Love springs from awareness.
It is only inasmuch as you see someone as he or she REALLY is here and now and not how they are in your memory or your DESIRE or in your imagination or projection that you can truly love them, otherwise it is not the person that you love but the IDEA that you have formed of this person, or this person as the OBJECT of your DESIRE not as he or she is in themselves.
Therefore the first act of love is to see this person or this object, this reality as it truly is. And this involves ENORMOUS DISCIPLINE of DROPPING your DESIRES, your PREJUDICES, your MEMORIES, your PROJECTIONS, your selective way of looking, a discipline so great that most people would rather plunge headlong into good actions and service than to SUBMIT to the BURNING FIRE of this ASCETICISM.
When you set out to serve someone whom you have not taken the trouble to see, are you meeting that person's need or your own? So the first ingredient of love is to really see the other.
The second ingredient is equally important to see yourself, to RUTHLESSLY flash the LIGHT of AWARENESS on your motives, your emotions, your needs, your dishonesty, your self-seeking, your TENDENCY to CONTROL and MANIPULATE. This means calling things by their name, no matter how painful the discovery and the consequences. If you achieve this kind of awareness of the other and yourself, you will know what love is. For you will have attained a mind and a heart that is alert, vigilant, clear, sensitive, a clarity of perception, a sensitivity that will draw out of you an accurate, appropriate response to every situation at every moment.
Sometimes you will be irresistibly impelled into action, at others you will be held back and restrained. You will sometimes be made to ignore others and sometimes give them the attention they seek. At times you will be gentle and yielding, at others hard, uncompromising, assertive, even violent. For the love that is BORN of SENSITIVITY takes many unexpected forms and it responds not to prefabricated guidelines and principles but to present, concrete reality. When you first experience this kind of sensitivity you are likely to experience TERROR. For all your defenses will be torn down, your dishonesty exposed, the protected wall around you burned.
...If it is love that you truly desire then set out at once on the task of seeing, take it seriously and look at someone you DISLIKE and really see your PREJUDICE. Look at someone you CLING TO or something you cling to and really see the SUFFERING, the FUTILITY, the UNFREEDOM of CLINGING and look long and lovingly at human faces and human behavior..."
- Anthony De Mello
from my early morning meditation