Entries in love (6)



Well, what does that mean? Does it mean that if you love then you can do anything that you choose to do? Is love really that powerful? Don't we humans need more checks and balances to keep us in line? Don't we need protection from ourselves vs having the license to do anything that we want? St. Augustine in a sermon about God's love for us said "love and do what you will." The meaning seems to be connected to St. Augustine's belief that God's love would transform those who opened their heart's to it and then they would follow God's will and do good things. So then they could do what they wanted as they would want good things for themselves and others. This might be an answer for the critique of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" pointing out that if you do bad things to yourself then you could justify doing bad things to others...if that were actually what you wanted to do to yourself or others. 

So. what does this have to do with us? Over the last 30 plus years helping people with a variety of problems but virtually all were feeling stressed and were self-critical and hard on themselves. I tried to help them to be kinder to themselves and to be more self-aware. I have found that when we are more self-aware, we are more likely to see the good parts of ourselves and are then more able to let go of some of the self-criticism. So maybe part of the "love" in "love and do what you will" is our choosing to be kinder and more loving towards ourselves and then we would be kinder and more loving towards others. If we do this, we will then feel less stressed. What do you think?



Is it fair or reasonable to judge what we do or say by the standard of whether or not it was based on love for the other?  How would that work?  Would we be able to say anything? Maybe the problem is the definition of love.  Love is..."an intense feeling of affection, fondness, tenderness, attachment, endearment, worship, adoration, passion."  There must be other definitions of love...such as from "A Literate Passion: Letters from Anis Nin and Henry Miller, 1932-1953:  "what is love but the acceptance of the other, whatever he is." Or what we can learn from music such as "What I Did For Love" from the musical "A Chorus Line."  This song seems to honor love as the reason that we have meaning in our lives. Or what about the bible such as "1 Corinthians 13: 4-8. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; were there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away."  

So, a lot of good things connected to loving. St. Augustine is reported to have summarized his faith by saying that all you need is to "love and do what you will." The bible repeatedly refers to "what is in your heart" as what is important in our relationship to God. This might also be referring to love. But what does it mean to say and do things out of love? Does it refer to our intention in what we say or do? Does it refer to our feeling and being empathic towards others? If we are all connected and as some believe all God's children. Then should we act in a loving way towards everyone? Does that really mean everyone? Does that mean not judging others? Does it mean not isolating others? 

I know that I have experienced over and over again in my work with people who come to me for help, that we are meant to be with each other and that our happiness seems directly related to how we treat other people.  What do you think?



Recently I was reading a poem by Mary Oliver and I felt moved by her words: "Sometimes I need / only to stand / wherever I am / to be blessed."  So, does that mean that we can be blessed wherever we are standing? What does it mean to be blessed?  What does "stand" mean?  

Thinking of "stand," I remembered a song by Susan Ashton called "Stand."  Years ago my oldest daughter suggested that I listen to it as it had inspired her.  The song describes "standing for what we believe and the love we have received and then we won't be alone."  Then we can resist "the voices of doubt as we listen from inside out."  I love that...listening from inside out.  So, does "stand" mean to be grateful for the love that we have received and to be true to what we believe? If we do this then are we blessed? Are we blessed when we know what we have been given and also choose to honor what we believe?  Is it that simple, that hard?

So, all we really need to do is stand, wherever we are, and we will be blessed! If we realize that we are blessed will that help us to stop worrying about the past and the future?  It would seem so. Why don't we all "stand" and see what happens.




In an earlier blog I mentioned research by Ms. Fredrickson and her colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that involved one group receiving training in metta meditation while a control group did not.  The metta meditation really seemed to help that group feel better and be more positively connected to others.  This type of meditation has also been used to successfully treat people with Borderline Personality Disorder, a disorder that is difficult to treat based in part on the negative and unstable relationships these people tend to have.  

So, what is this metta?  Metta is described as an attitude that recognizes and respects all sentient beings [all living things capable of having feelings] and wishes them well.  It requires that we recognize that all sentient beings are united in their desire to find fulfillment and escape suffering.  This then allows us to feel friendly, compassionate and even loving to others.   

The practice of developing metta involves first cultivating this attitude and experience of life towards ourselves.  Then toward family members and good friends.  Next toward neutral people and then toward difficult [hard to like] people.  The final practice involves feeling this loving kindness toward people who do very bad things.  It seems that when we withhold our kindness towards anyone, it becomes a weight or burden for us to carry.  I may have mentioned the following story in another blog.  However, since it concerns carrying things I will repeat it.  Two monks were walking down a muddy dirt road and saw a very nicely dressed woman standing  on the side of the road.  She would get her dress muddy if she had to cross the road  One of the monks went over and carried her to the other side.  Five hours later, the other monk asked why he did that.  The monk who carried her stated that he had carried her for 30 seconds while the other monk had carried her for 5 hours.

Here's wishing all of us the joys of letting go of our burdens that keep us from experiencing metta.




From a tweet by Cory Booker [Mayor of Newark, N.J.]:" give more than is expected, love more than seems wise, serve more than appears necessary, and help more than is asked."  This was written after the damage from hurricane Sandy.  His encouraging others to share and care about each other is a way to help people cope with the loss of their posessions, their neighborhoods, and unfortunately for some, the loss of their loved ones.  

Philosophers have for thousands of years written that we [humans] are all connected and all in it together. If we are bombarded by negative news, disasters, and dire predictions about the future, it is hard to feel the connection with others and the support that this can bring.  It is interesting that often after a disaster affects us personally, we become reaquainted with our neighbors and realize how many neighbors that we actually have.

I am hoping [and believing] that we won't need disasters to bring us back together.  We can start now. Value yourself and then give more than is expected.