The Trouble with How We Love

It seems we were born to invent. For better or worse, it is what we do. And not just things, but stories, excuses, and schemes too.

Thus, much of what we invent we would be better off without. Take the idea that love is selective, for instance. Who concocted that one?

Our inventiveness apparently dates to our expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Since then we have twisted and spindled a lot of what was already perfect. Love, in particular. We have turned its all-inclusive ideal into a mere expression of personal desire.

Love was never meant to be a “want.” It has always been the omnipresent “is,” the inexhaustible source of “ever existing, ever conscious, ever new Bliss,” known in Sanskrit as Satchidananda.

Everything in this world is dual in nature. Yet, we have conditioned ourselves to love only the agreeable half of its two-sided manifestations. Our love of other people – and our lack of it also – tends to rest on the imposition of personal provisos. And so, it comes and goes. We may think this is natural, but really it is merely a habit, and a bad one at that, acquired of outward living.

Love that depends on certain physical, mental, and emotional criteria is a mark of instability, an example of egoic selfishness that becomes a magnet for the suffering we experience.

It is ego that leads us to seek outside ourselves for what we want, but the ego cannot love without parameters to please it. It weighs and labels what it sees, using its sensory scale of pros and cons. The result is distortion of love as pleasure or pain.

To see anyone as a stranger, or anything as separate, is to limit our sympathies to “I” and “mine.” The only cure is to live from within, to embrace the whole of life’s demands and diversities, no longer wounded of wanting.

Love is not an invention we can improve on. We have to let it be as it was intended. In its original state, it was – and is – the answer to every need.

Self-Talk for Two

Do you ever feel like a slave?

You mean to my career, to my responsibilities? Yeah, sometimes.

I mean, more like feeling bound to how you think, to what you want and are still trying to get. More like that.

I’m okay with who I am, if that’s what you’re asking. Most of the time, anyway. But I get your question. We’re stuck with these bodies and their limitations, with this life and what we have to do.

Exactly. I don’t think it’s fair. We have free will, but to me it’s kind of a ruse, more like a sly form of bondage.

Growing pains are part of the deal, but having free will lets me decide if, when, and how I want to handle what comes my way. If my attitude is good, what seems bad gets better.

What do you think of this idea that life is a gift from God and that we’re supposed to use it to seek only Him? The way I see it, I didn’t ask to be born in the first place, and now I have to live in a certain way, or I get swatted down. What kind of a gift is that?

I look at the gift as a lease. Maybe I don’t remember that I signed it, and maybe I can’t break it, but in living by its terms, I can make the most of it, and it will serve me well.

Those terms are awfully strict. Indulge a desire, and suddenly there’s a gift tax.

Yeah, that’s true. Most of us run up quite a bill before we see the mistake of it.

But why is it a mistake? God has booby-trapped the gift. If He loves us so much, why would He do that? Why would He rig the game?

Maybe the better question is when and why did we decide that we should make the rules? There’s a flip side to every desire we pursue. That’s a given, as it has been from the beginning. Highs come with lows. There’s no getting around it. The slave is the one who keeps thinking he can.

It still feels like a forced march to me. “Here’s your gift. There’s a million ways to use it, but if you choose any of them that isn’t God-approved, you’re going to suffer.”

That’s about it. But the upside is that in choosing to act in ways that are God-approved, we not only don’t suffer, our experience of freedom and happiness continues to grow. The downside disappears.

How’s that working for you?

It works when I do the work, and it doesn’t when I don’t. I know how to talk the talk, and I know all about the sword of discrimination that I need to apply to my unsevered desires, but old habits die hard. It’s still an uphill climb.

That’s what gripes me. I have no real choice in the matter, free will or not. God put me here, and I can’t get out. If I end my life prematurely, I’ll be worse off the next time. The game is rigged. I have to make the uphill climb, or suffer for as long I refuse.

Seems to me a pretty good time to make the only good choice you have. It might even start to feel like a gift.