As I write this, the networks are showing a fundraising program for hurricane relief called “Hand-in-Hand.” The opening performer appeared to be Stevie Wonder – although he looked a little young to be Stevie Wonder. He gave a brief homily before singing “Lean on Me” with a large chorus. His homily mentioned how pure and uncomplicated love is, independent of politics or philosophies. Love just IS.
My mind wandered back to the Last Supper room when Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” How has Jesus loved us? It strikes me that there are three characteristics that Jesus’ love displays.
The first is proactive. He does not wait for human suffering to arrive at his doorstep but instead he goes out to meet it. In traditional Christian theology he came down from heaven and became man. (Some would say that heaven is within us and so Jesus would have emerged from the creative depths of human consciousness).
The second is unconditionally. His love does not depend on whether he likes us or not. Liking someone is taken for granted in Christian spirituality because we recognize that I and the other person are One. We address ourselves to the true self underlying the surface phenomena of personality and appearance.
The third is permanently. His love endures forever. This means that it holds steady even as we go through our ups and downs.
At first it can seem a challenge to love as Jesus loved. How daunting! Yet the way to follow is to open our hearts to his Spirit, the one he calls Holy. This is done through a daily spiritual practice like meditation. Focusing on our breath is focusing on the Spirit. The entry is invisible, mysterious, and yet the results show forth in a calmer, inner peace, an unhurried, undistracted presence to others, and a capacity to leave others feeling touched.
We love unconditionally by not squeezing people into our worldview or judging them when their actions strike us as unspeakable.
We love permanently by maintaining an abiding presence to others even when feelings get hurt or indifference is shown to us. Perhaps the greatest obstacle to loving others is to allow the preoccupations of our ego selves (our thoughts, memories, plans, fantasies, feelings, and sensations) to come between us and the love we show others.
The Dalai Lama says, “My religion is Loving Kindness.”
Bill O’Brien is a Consciousness Coach in Shepherdstown. His website is www.billobrienconsciousnesscoaching.com.