Call to Love - Meditations by Anthony de Mello SJ
Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Mt. 24:44)
Sooner or later there arises in every human heart the desire for holiness, spirituality, God, call it what you will.
One hears mystics speak of a divinity all around them that is within our grasp, that would make our lives meaningful and beautiful and rich, if we could only discover it.
People have some sort of a vague idea as to what this thing is. They read books and consult Gurus, in the attempt to find out what it is that they must do to gain this elusive thing called Holiness or Spirituality.
People pick up all sorts of methods, techniques, spiritual exercises, formulas; then after years of fruitless striving, they become discouraged and confused and wonder what went wrong. Mostly they blame themselves.
If they had practiced their techniques more regularly, if they had been more fervent or more generous, they might have made it. But made what? They have no clear idea as to what exactly this holiness that they seek is, but they certainly know that their lives are still in a mess, they still become anxious and insecure and fearful, resentful and unforgiving, grasping and ambitious and manipulative of people. So once again they throw themselves with renewed vigor into effort and labor that they think they need to attain their goal.
They have never stopped to consider this simple fact. Their efforts are going to get them nowhere.
Their efforts will only make things worse, as things become worse when you use fire to put out fire.
Efforts does not lead to growth; effort, whatever the form it may take, whether it be will power or habit or a technique or a spiritual exercise, does not lead to change.
At best it leads to repression and a covering over of the root disease.
Effort may change the behavior but it does not change the person.
Just think what kind of a mentality it betrays when you ask, "What must I do to get holiness?" Isn't it like asking, "How much money must I spend to buy something?" What sacrifice must I make?" What discipline must I undertake? What medication must I practice in order to get it? Think of a man who wants to win the love of a woman and attempts to improve his appearance or build his body or change his behavior and practice techniques to charm her.
You truly win the love of others not by the practice of techniques but by being a certain kind of person. And that is never achieved through effort an techniques. And so it is with Spirituality and Holiness. Not what you do is what brings it to you.
This is not a commodity that one can buy or a prize that one can win. What matters is what you are, what you become.
Holiness is not an achievement, it is a Grace. A Grace called Awareness, a grace called Looking, observing, understanding.
A. If you would only switch on the light of awareness an observe yourself and everything around you throughout the day.
B. If you would see yourself reflected in the mirror of awareness the way you see your face reflected in a looking glass, that is, accurately, clearly, exactly as it is without the slightest distortion or addition.
C. If you observed this reflection without any judgement or condemnation, you would experience all sorts of marvelous changes coming about in you. Only you will not be in control of those changes or be able to plan them in advance, or decide how and when they are to take place.
It is this non-judgmental awareness alone that heals and changes and makes one grow. But in its own way and all its own time.
What specifically are you to be aware of?
1. Your reactions and your relationships. Each time you are in the presence of a person, any person, or with nature or with any particular situation, you have all sorts of reactions, positive and negative.
2. Study those reactions, observe what exactly they are and where they come from, without any sermonizing or guilt or even any desire, much less effort to change them. That is all that on needs for holiness to arise.
But isn't awareness itself an effort?
Not if you have tasted it even once. For then you will understand that awareness is a delight, the delight of a little child moving out in wonder to discover the world. For even when awareness uncovers unpleasant things in you, it always brings liberation and joy. Then you will know that the unaware life is not worth living, it is too full of darkness and pain.
If at first there is a sluggishness in practicing awareness, don't force yourself. That would be an effort again. Just be aware of your sluggishness without any judgement or condemnation. You will then understand that awareness involves as much effort as a lover makes to go to his beloved, or a hungry man makes to eat his food, or a mountaineer to get to the top of his beloved mountain; so much energy expended, so much hardship even, but it isn't effort, it's fun! In other words, awareness is an effortless activity.
Will awareness bring you the holiness you so desire? Yes and no. The fact is you will never know. For true holiness, the type that is not achieved through techniques and efforts and repression, true holiness is completely unself-conscious. You wouldn't have the slightest awareness of its existence in you. Besides you will not care, for even the ambition to be holy will have dropped as you live from moment to moment a life made full and happy and transparent through awareness. It is enough for you to be watchful and awake. For in this state your eyes will see the Savior. Nothing else, but absolutely nothing else. Not security, not love, not belonging, not beauty, not power, not holiness - nothing else will matter any more.
Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound, your body is full of darkness. (Lk. 11:34)
We think the world would be saved if only we could generate larger quantities of goodwill and tolerance. That's false.
What will save the world is not goodwill and tolerance but clear thinking. Of what use is it to be tolerant of others if you are convinced that you are right and everyone who disagrees with you is wrong? That isn't tolerance but condescension. That leads not to union of heats but to division, because you are one-up and the others one-down. A position that can only lead to a sense of superiority on your part and resentment on your neighbor's thereby breeding further intolerance.
True tolerance only arises from a keen awareness of the abysmal ignorance of everyone as far as truth is concerned. For truth is essentially mystery.
The mind can sense but cannot grasp it, much less formulate it. Our beliefs can point to it but cannot put it into words. In spite of this, people talk glowingly about the value of dialogue, which at worst is a camouflaged attempt to convince the other person of the rightness of your position, and at best will prevent you from becoming a frog in the well who thinks that his well is the only world there is.
What happens when frogs from different wells assemble to dialogue about their convictions and experiences? Their horizons widen to include the existence of wells other than their own. But they still have not suspicion of the existence of the ocean of truth that cannot be confined within the walls of conceptual wells. And our poor frogs continue to be divided and to speak in terms of yours and mine, your experience, your convictions, your ideology and mine. The sharing of formulas does not enrich the sharers, for formulas like the walls of wells divide; only the unrestricted ocean unites.
But to arrive at this ocean of truth that is unbounded by formulas, it is essential to have the gift of clear thinking.
What is clear thinking and how does one arrive at it?
I. The first thing you must know is that it does not call for any great learning. It is so simple as to be within the reach of a ten-year-old child. What is needed is not learning but unlearning, not talent but courage.
You will understand this if you think of a little child in the arms of an old, disfigured housemaid. The child is too young to have picked up the prejudices of its elders. So when it snuggles in the woman's arms, it is responding not to labels in its head; labels like white woman, black woman, ugly, pretty, old, young, mother, servant maid, it is responding not to labels such as these but to reality. That woman meets the child's need for love and that is the reality the child responds to, not to the woman's name and figure and religion and race and sect. Those are totally and absolutely irrelevant.
The child has as yet no beliefs and no prejudices. This is the environment within which clear thinking can occur. And to achieve it, one must drop everything one has learned and achieve the mind of the child that is innocent of past experiences and programming which so cloud our way of looking at reality.
II. Look into yourself and examine your reactions to persons and situations, and you will be appalled to discover the prejudiced thinking behind your reactions. It is almost never the concrete reality of this person or thing that you are responding to. You are responding to principles, ideologies, belief-systems, economic, political, religious, psychological belief-systems; to preconceived ideas and prejudices, whether positive or negative.
III. Take them one at a time, each person and thing and situation, and search for your bias, separating the reality here before you from your programmed perceptions and your projections. And this exercise will afford you a revelation as divine as any that the scriptures could provide you with.
Prejudices and beliefs are not the only enemies of clear thinking.
There is another pair of enemies called desire and fear. Thinking that is uncontaminated by emotion, namely by desire and fear, and self-interest, calls for an asceticism that is terrifying.
People mistakenly assume that their thinking is done by their head; it is done actually by the heart which first dictates the conclusion, then commands the head to provide the reasoning that will defend it. So here is another source of divine revelation. Examine some of the conclusions that you have arrived at and see how they are adulterated by self-interest. This is true of every conclusion, unless you hold it provisionally. Think how tightly you hold onto your conclusions regarding people, for instance. Are those judgements completely free of emotion? If you think they are, you have probably not looked hard enough.
This is the major cause of disagreements and division between nations and individuals. Your interests do not coincide with mine, so your thinking and your conclusions to not agree with mine.
How many people do you know whose thinking is at least some-times opposed to their self-interest? How many times can you recall having engaged in that kind of thinking yourself? How often have you succeeded in placing an impenetrable barrier between the thinking going on in your head and the fears and desires that agitate your heart? Each time you attempt that task, you will understand that what clear thinking calls for is not intelligence. That is easily come by - but the courage that has successfully coped with fear and desire, for the moment you desire something or fear something, your heart will consciously or unconsciously get in the way of your thinking.
This is a consideration for spiritual giants who have come to realize that in order to find truth they need, not doctrinal formulations, but;
A. A heart that divests itself of its programming and its self-interest each time that thinking is in progress;
B. A heart that has nothing to protect and nothing to ambition and therefore leaves the mind to roam unfettered, fearless and free, in search of truth;
C. A heart that is ever ready to accept new evidence and to change its views.
Such a heart then becomes a lamp that enlightens the darkness of the whole body of humanity. If all human beings were fitted with such hearts, people would no longer think of themselves as Communists or Capitalists, as Christians or Muslims or Buddhists. The very clarity of their thinking would show them that all thinking, all concepts, all beliefs are lamps full of darkness, signs of their ignorance. And in that realization the walls of their separate wells would collapse and they would be invaded by the ocean that unites all peoples in the truth.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life - look at the birds of the air - consider the lilies of the field. (Mt. 6:25)
Everyone at some time or the other experiences feelings of what is know as insecurity.
You feel insecure with the amount of money you have in the bank, or the amount of love you are getting from your friend or the type of educational background you have had. Or you have insecurity feelings regarding your health or your age of your physical appearance.
If you were asked the question, "What is it that makes you feel insecure?" you would almost certainly give the wrong answer.
You might say, "I don't have enough of the love of a friend or I don't have the kind of academic training that I need," or some such thing.
In other words, you would point to some outside condition not realizing that insecurity feelings are not generated by anything outside of you, but only by your emotional programming, by something you are telling yourself in your head. If you change your program, your insecurity feelings would vanish in a trice, even though everything in the outside world remained exactly as it was before.
One person feels quite secure with practically no money in the bank, another feels insecure even though he has millions. It isn't the amount of money but their programming that makes the difference. One person has no friends, yet feels perfectly secure in the love of people. Another feels insecure even in the most possessive and exclusive of relationships. Again the difference is in programming.
If you wish to deal with your feelings of insecurity these are four facts that you must study well and understand.
I. First, it is futile to ease your insecurity feelings by trying to change things outside of you.
Your efforts may be successful, though mostly they are not. They may bring some relief, but the relief will be short-lived. So it is not worth the energy and time you spend in improving your physical appearance or making more money or getting further reassurances of love from your friends.
II. Second, this fact will lead you to tackle the problem where it really is, inside your head. Think of the people who in exactly the same condition that you find yourself in now, would not feel the slightest insecurity. There are such people. Therefore the problem lies not with reality outside of your but with you, in your programming.
III. Third, you must understand that this programming of yours was picked up from insecure people who, when you were very young and impressionable, taught you by their behavior and their panic reactions, that every time the outside world did not conform to a certain pattern, you must create an emotional turmoil within yourself called insecurity.
And you had to do everything in your power to rearrange the outside world: Make more money, seek more reassurances, placate and please the people you have offended, etc., etc. in order to make the insecurity feelings go away. The more realization that you don't have to do this, that doing this really solves nothing, and that the emotional turmoil is caused solely by you and your culture, this realization alone distances you from the problem and brings considerable relief.
IV. Fourth, whenever you are insecure about what may happen in the future, just remember this: In the past six months or one year you were so insecure about events which when, they finally came you were able to handle somehow.
Thanks to the energy and the resources that that particular present moment gave you, and not to all the previous worrying which only made you suffer needlessly and weakened you emotionally. So, say to yourself: "If there is anything I can do about the future, right now, I shall do it. Then I'm going to just leave it alone and settle down to enjoy the present moment, because all the experience of my life has shown me that I can only cope with things when they are present, not before they occur. And that the present always gives me the resources and the energy I need to deal with them.
The final disappearance of insecurity feelings will only come when you have attained that blessed ability of the birds of he air and the flowers of the field to live fully in the present, one moment at a time. The present moment, no matter how painful, is never unbearable.
What is unbearable is what you think is going to happen in the five hours or in five days: and those words you keep saying in your head, words like, "This is terrible, this is unbearable, how long is this going to last, and so on." Birds and flowers are blessed above humans in that they have no concept of the future, no words in their heads, and no anxiety about what their fellows think of them. That is why they are such perfect images of the kingdom.
So do not be anxious about tomorrow, tomorrow will look after itself. Each day has troubles enough of its own. Set your mind on God's Kingdom before everything else and all the rest will come to you as well.
I came to case fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! (Lk. 12:49)
If you want to know what it means to be happy, look at a flower, a bird, a child, they are perfect images of the kingdom. For they live from moment to moment in the eternal now with no past and no future. So they are spared the guilt and the anxiety that so torment human beings, and they are full of the sheer joy of living, taking delight not so much in persons or things as in life itself.
As long as your happiness is caused or sustained by something or someone outside of you, you are still in the land of the dead.
The day you are happy for no reason whatsoever, the day you find yourself taking delight in everything and in nothing, you will know that you have found the land of unending joy called the kingdom.
To find the kingdom is the easiest thing in the world, but also the most difficult. Easy because it is all around you and within you, and all you have to do is reach out and take possession of it. Difficult because if you wish to possess the kingdom you may possess nothing else.
That is, you must drop all inward leaning on any person or thing, withdrawing from them forever the power to thrill you, or excite you, or to give you a feeling of security or well being.
For this you first need to see with unflinching clarity this simple and shattering truth: Contrary to what your culture and religion have taught you, nothing, but absolutely nothing can make you happy.
The moment you see that, you will stop moving from one job to another, one friend to another, one place, one spiritual technique, one guru to another. None of these things can give you a single minute of happiness. The can only offer you a temporary thrill, a pleasure that initially grows in intensity, then turns into pain if you lose them, and into boredom if you keep them.
Think of the numberless persons and things that so excited you in the past. What happened? In every single instance they ended up by causing you suffering, or boredom, did they not? It is absolutely essential that you see this because till you do, there is no question of your ever finding the kingdom of joy. Mostly people are not prepared to see till they have suffered repeated disillusionment and sorrow. And even then only one in a million has the desire to see.
They just keep going at it, pathetically knocking at the door of other creatures, begging bowl in hand, craving affection and approval and guidance and power and honor and success. For they obstinately refuse to understand that happiness is not in these things.
If you search within your heart you will find something there that will make it possible for you to understand: a spark of disenchantment and discontent, which if fanned into flame will become a raging forest fire that will burn up the whole of the illusory world you are living in, thereby unveiling to your wondering eyes the kingdom that you have always lived in unsuspectingly.
Have you ever felt disgusted with life, sick at heart of constantly running away from fears and anxieties, weary of your begging rounds, exhausted from being dragged about helplessly by your attachments and addictions? Have you ever felt the utter meaninglessness of working for a degree, then finding a job, then settling down to a life of boredom; or, if you are an achiever settling down to a life of emotional turmoil caused by the things that you are chasing after? If you have, and is there a single human being who hasn't the divine flame of discontent has arisen within your heart. Now is the time to feed it before it gets stamped out by the routine chores of life.
Now is the Holy Season when you simply must find the time to get away and look at your life, allowing the flame to grow and grow as you look, refusing to let anything distract you from this task.
Now is the time to see that absolutely nothing outside of you can bring you lasting joy. But the moment you do that, you will notice that a fear arises in your heart. That fear that if you allow the discontent to be, it will turn into a raging passion that will grip you and cause you to revolt against everything that your culture and your religion, hold dear; against a whole way of thinking and feeling and perceiving the world that they have brainwashed you into accepting.
This devouring flame will cause you not just to rock the boat, but to burn the boat to ashes. Suddenly you will find yourself living in an altogether different world, infinitely removed from the world of the people around you, for everything that others hold dear, everything they are crying their hearts out for, honor, power, acceptance, approval, security, wealth, is seen for the stinking garbage that it is. It disgusts and nauseates. And everything others are forever running away from, holds no terrors for you any more. You have become serene and fearless and free, for you have stepped out of your illusory world and into the kingdom.
Do not confound this divine discontent with the hopelessness and despair that sometimes drive people to madness and to suicide. That is not the mystical drive to life but the neurotic drive to self-destruction. Do not confound it withe the whining of people who are forever complaining about everything. These people are not mystics but bores, merely agitating for improvement of prison conditions, whereas what they need to do is burst out of prison into freedom.
Most people, when they feel the stirring of this discontent within their hearts, either run away from it and drug themselves with the fevered pursuit of work and social life and friendship; or they channel the discontent into social work, literature, music, the so-called creative pursuits that make them settle for reform, when what is needed is revolt.
These people, even though they are full of activity, are not really alive at all: they are dead, content to live in the land of the dead.
The test that your discontent is divine is the fact that it has no trace of sadness or bitterness to it at all. On the contrary even though it often arouses fear within your heart, it is always accompanied by joy, the joy of the kingdom.
And here is a parable of that kingdom: It is like a treasure lying buried in a field. The man who found it buried it again, and for sheer joy went and sold everything he had and bought that field. If you haven't found the treasure as yet, don't waste your time searching for it. It can be found but it may not be searched for. You don't have to slightest notion what the treasure is.
All you are familiar with is the drugged happiness of your present existence. So what would you search for? And where? No, search rather in your heart for the spark of discontent, and tend the flame till it becomes a conflagration and your world is burnt down to a heap of rubble.
Young or old, most of us are discontented merely because we want something - more knowledge, a better job, a finer car, a bigger salary. Our discontent is based upon our desire of "the more." It is only because we want something more that most of us are discontented. But I am not talking about that kind of discontent. It is the desire for "the more" that prevents clear thinking, whereas if we are discontented, not because we want something, but without knowing what we want; if we are dissatisfied with our jobs, with making money, with seeking position and power, with tradition, with what we have and with what we might have; if we are dissatisfied, not with anything in particular but with everything, then I think we shall find that our discontent brings clarity. When we don't accept or follow, but question, investigate, penetrate, there is an insight out of which comes creativity, joy.
Mostly the discontent that you feel comes from not having enough of something - you are dissatisfied because you think you do not have enough money or power or success or fame or virtue or love, or holiness. This is not the discontent that leads to the joy of the kingdom. Its source is greed and ambition and its fruit is restlessness and frustration.
The day you are discontented, not because you want more of something but without knowing what it is you want; when you are sick at heart of everything that you have been pursuing so far, and you are sick of the pursuit itself, then your heart will attain a great clarity, an insight that will cause you mysteriously to delight in everything and in nothing.
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory? (Lk. 24:26)
Think of some of the painful events in your life. For how many of them are you grateful today, because thanks to them you changed and grew.
Here is a simple truth of life that most people never discover. Happy events make life delightful but they do not lead to self-discovery and growth and freedom. That privilege is reserved to the things and persons and situations that cause us pain.
Every painful event contains in itself a seed of growth and liberation. In the light of this truth return to your life now and take a look at one or another of the events that you are not grateful for, and see if you can discover the potential for growth that they contain which you were unaware of and therefore failed to benefit from. Now think of some recent event that caused you pain, that produced negative feelings in you.
Whoever or whatever caused those feelings was your Teacher, because they revealed so much to you about yourself that you probably did not know. And they offered you an invitation and a challenge to self-understanding, self-discovery, and therefore to growth and life and freedom.
I. Try it out now, identify the negative feeling that this event aroused in you. Was it anxiety or insecurity, jealousy or anger or guilt. What does that emotion say to you about yourself, your values, your way of perceiving the world and life and above all your programming and conditioning.
If you succeed in discovering this, you will drop some illusion you have clung to till now, or you will change a distorted perception or correct a false belief or learn to distance yourself from your suffering, as you realize that it was caused by your programming and not by reality; and you will suddenly find that you are full of gratitude for those negative feelings and to that person or even that caused them.
II. Now take this one step further. Look at everything that you think and feel and say and do that you do not like in yourself. Your negative emotions, your defects, your handicaps, your errors, your attachments and neuroses and hangups and yes, even your sins. Can you see everyone of them as a necessary part of your development, holding out a promise of growth and grace for you and others, that would never have been there except for this thing that you so disliked.
And if you have caused pain and negative feelings to others, were you not at that moment a teacher to them, an instrument that offered them a seed for self-discovery and growth? Can you persist in this observation, in your observation till you see all of this as a happy fault, a necessary sin that brings so much good to you and to the world?
If you can, your heart will be flooded with peace and gratitude and love and acceptance of every single thing. And you will have discovered what people everywhere are searching for and never find. Namely, the fountain head of serenity and joy that hides in every human heart.
And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off, it is better to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell - And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell. (Mk 9:43)
When you deal with blind people it dawns on you that they are attuned to realities that you have no idea of. Their sensitivity to the world of touch and smell and taste and sound is such, as to make the rest of us seem like dull clods. We pity persons who have lost their sight but rarely take into account the enrichment that their other sense offer them. It is a pity that those riches are bought at the heavy price of blindness and it is quite conceivable that we could be as alive and finely attuned to the world as blind people are without the loss of our eyes.
It is not possible, not even conceivable, that you would ever awaken to the world of love unless you pluck out, chop off, those parts of your psychological being that are called Attachments.
If you refuse to do this, you will miss the experience of Love, you miss the only thing that gives meaning to human existence. For love is the passport to abiding joy and peace and freedom. There is only one thing that blocks out entry into that world and the name of that thing is Attachment.
It is produced by the lusting eye that excites craving within the heart and by the grasping hand that reaches out to hold, possess and make one's own, and refuses to let go. It is this eye that must be gouged out, this hand that must be cut off if Love is to be born. With those mutilated stumps for hands you can grasp nothing any more. With those empty sockets for eyes you suddenly become sensitive to realities whose existence you have never suspected.
Now at last you can love. Till now all you had was certain good heartedness and benevolence, a sympathy and concern for others, which you mistakenly took for Love but has as little in common with Love, as a flickering candle flame has with the light of the sun.
What is Love? It is a sensitivity to every portion of reality within you and without, together with a whole-hearted response to that reality.
Sometimes you will embrace that reality, sometimes you will attack it, sometimes you will ignore it, and at others you will give it your fullest attention, but always you will respond not from need but from sensitivity.
And what is an attachment? A need, a clinging that blunts your sensitivity, a drug that clouds your perception. That is why as long as you have the slightest attachment for anything or any person Love cannot be born.
For Love is sensitivity, and sensitivity that is impaired even in the slightest degree is sensitivity destroyed.
Just as the malfunctioning of one essential piece of a radar set distorts reception, an attachment distorts your response to what you perceive.
There is no such thing as defective love, or deficient love, or partial love. Love like sensitivity either is in all its fullness or it simply is not. You either have it whole, or you have it not.
So it is only when attachments disappear that one enters the boundless realm of spiritual freedom called Love. One is now released to see and to respond. But you must not confound this freedom with the indifference of those who have never passed through the stage of attachment.
How could you pluck out an eye or amputate a hand that you do not have? This indifference that so many people mistake for love (because they are attached to no one, they think that they love everyone) is not sensitivity, but a hardening of the heart that has come about from rejection or disillusionment or the practice of renunciation.
No, one must brave the stormy seas of attachments if one has to arrive at the land of love.
Some people, never having set sail have convinced themselves that they have arrived. One must be able-bodied and clear-sighted before the sword can do its work and the world of love can arise in one's awareness; and make no mistake, this is only achieved through violence. It is only the violent who carry off the kingdom.
Why the violence? Because left to its own devices life would never produce love, it would only lead you to attraction, from attraction to pleasure, then to attachment, to satisfaction, which finally leads to wearisomeness and boredom. Then comes a plateau. Then once again the weary cycle: attraction, pleasure, attachment, fulfillment, satisfaction, boredom. All of this mixed with the sorrow, the pain, that makes the cycle a roller coaster.
When you have gone repeatedly round and round the cycle, a time finally comes when you have had enough and want to call a halt to the whole process. And if you are lucky enough not to run into something or someone else that catches your eye, you will have at least attained a fragile peace. That is the most that life can give you; and you can mistakenly equate this state with freedom and you die without ever having known what it means to be really free and to love.
No, if you wish to break out of the cycle and into the world of love, you must strike while the attachment is alive and raw, not when you have outgrown it. And you must strike not with the sword of renunciation, for that kind of mutilation only harden, but with the sword of awareness.
What must you be aware of? Three things;
I. First you must see the suffering that this drug is causing you, the ups and downs, the thrills, the anxieties and disappointments, the boredom to which it must inevitably lead.
II. Second, you must realize what this drug is cheating you out of, namely, the freedom to love and to enjoy every minute and every thing in life.
III. Third, you must understand how, because of your addiction and your programming, you have invested the object of your attachment with a beauty and a value it simply does not have; what you are so enamored of is in your head, not in your beloved person or thing. See this and the sword of awareness breaks the spell.
It is commonly held that it is only when you feel deeply loved yourself, that you are able to go out in love to others. This is not true. A man in love, does indeed go out into the world not in love but in euphoria. For him the world takes on an unreal, rose hue, which it loses the moment the euphoria dies. His so called love is generated not by his clear perception of reality but by the conviction, true or false, that he is loved by someone - a conviction that is dangerously fragile, because it is founded on the unreliable, changeable people, who he believes love him. And who can at any moment pull the switch and turn off his euphoria. No wonder those who walk this path never really lose their insecurity.
(When you go out to the world because of the love that someone else has for you, you are all aglow not with your perception of reality but with the love that you have received from someone else, someone else controls the switch and when it is switched off the glow fades away.)
As you use the sword of awareness to move from attachment into love, there is one thing you must keep in mind; Don't be harsh or impatient, or hating of yourself. How can love grow out of such attitudes? But rather hold on to the compassion and the matter-of-factness with which the surgeon plies his knife. Then you may find yourself in the marvelous condition of loving the object of your attachment and enjoying it even more than before, but simultaneously enjoying every other thing, and every other person just as much.
That is the litmus test for finding out if what you have is love. Far from becoming indifferent, you now enjoy everything, and everyone just as much as you did the object of your attachment. Only now there are no more thrills and therefore no more suffering and suspense. In fact you could be said to be enjoying everything and enjoying nothing. Because you have made the great discovery that what you are enjoying on the occasion of each thing and person is something within yourself.
The orchestra is within you and you carry it with you wherever you go. The things and people outside you merely determine what particular melody the orchestra will play. And when there is no one or noting that has your attention, the orchestra will play a music of its own; it needs no outside stimulation. You now carry in your heart a happiness that nothing outside of you can put there, and nothing can take away.
Here then is the other test of love.
You are happy for no reason that you know.
Does this love last? There is no guarantee that it does. For while love cannot be partial it can be of temporary duration. It comes and goes in the measure that your mind is awake and aware or has gone off to sleep again. But this much is certain, once you have had even a fleeting taste of this thing called Love, you will know that no price is too high, no sacrifice too great, not even the loss of one's eyes, nor the amputations of one's hand, if you can have in exchange the only thing in the world that makes your life worthwhile.
Judge not, that you be not judged. (Mt. 7:1)
It is a sobering thought that the finest act of love you can perform is not an act of service but an act of contemplation, of seeing.
When you serve people, you help, support, comfort, alleviate pain. When you see them in their inner beauty and goodness, you transform and create.
I. Think of some of the people you like and are drawn to you.
Now attempt to look at each of them as if you were seeing them for the first time, not allowing yourself to be influenced by your past knowledge or experience of them, whether good or bad.
Look for things in them that you may have missed because of familiarity, for familiarity breeds staleness, blindness and boredom. You cannot love what you cannot see afresh. You cannot love what you are not constantly discovering anew.
II. Having done this move on now to people you dislike.
First, observe what is it in them that you dislike, study their defects impartially and with detachment.
That means you cannot use labels like proud, lazy, selfish, arrogant. The label is an act of mental laziness, for it is easy to stick a label onto someone. It is difficult and challenging to see this person in his/her uniqueness.
You must study those defects clinically, that means, you must first make sure of your objectivity.
A. Consider the possibility that what you see as a defect in them, may not be a defect at all, but really something that your upbringing and conditioning have led you to dislike.
B. If after this you still see a defect there, understand that the origin of the defect lies in childhood experiences, past conditionings, faulty thinking and perception; and above all in unawareness, not in malice.
As you do this, your attitude will change into love and forgiveness, for to study, to observe, to understand is to forgive.
C. Having made this study of defects, now search for the treasures buried in this person that your dislike prevented you from seeing before.
D. And as you do this, observe any change of attitude or feeling that comes over you, for your dislike had clouded the vision and prevented you from seeing.
You can now move on to each of the persons you live and work with, observing how each of them becomes transformed in your eyes when you look at them in this way.
In seeing them thus it is an infinitely more loving gift that you offer them that any act of service. For in doing this, you have transformed them, you have created them in your heart and, given a certain amount of contact between you and them they will be transformed in reality too.
III. Now make this same gift to yourself. If you have been able to do it for others that should be fairly easy. Follow the same procedure: no defect, not neuroses is judged or condemned. You have not judged others, you will be amazed now that you yourself are not being judged.
Those defects are probed, studied, analysed, for a better understanding that leads to love and forgiveness, and you will discover to your joy that you are being transformed by this strangely loving attitude that arises within you towards this thing you call yourself. An attitude that arises within you and moves out through you to every living creature.