Is there anything more confusing then love? How should I love you? How should I love them? How should I receive love? Is this love?
I don’t have the answers, let me put that one out there.
One particular thing I’m confused about with regards to love is this current of self love that’s happening in the culture I exist in.
You see, the ancient wisdom along this subject I’ve come across has never made me feel it’s geared towards loving thyself at all costs, it’s always been about loving at all costs. Loving thy neighbour, loving the sun, loving without judgement, loving without clinging, loving the warmth that comes from within. It has also given me the understanding of respect – respect for myself, for the plants I walk beside, the animals I come in contact with, respect for breath.
In my journey of discovery, I cannot recall coming across ancient words of wisdom suggesting in order to find my peace, in order to be authentic, I must build a concept and not let anybody tear it down.
But what about selfless love? Selfless acts of giving?
I do not think for one second we should allow ourselves to be controlled or diminished by others who cannot stand our own inner peace or happiness, no, that should not be tolerated… but I don’t think it should mean that we love ourselves above all else in the world.
Sukha is said to be envisioned like a calm pool of water. It is the mind undisturbed.
There is no doubt in my mind that we should respect ourselves, and give love to ourselves. But what I am a bit saddened and confused by is a growing attitude of: ‘I don’t care what you think about me, I am a vibrant lion roaring my mane full of self love and if you don’t like it then go your own way, thank you goodbye.’
I really don’t think that’s self love. I think that’s pride and power and perhaps even a little bit of arrogance using a catchy slogan and an lifestyle that’s been sold to self. Of course, people who do say this, aren’t necessarily dominated by those character traits. But that’s what their words seem to imply. And I get the feeling that these same people are not defined as a calm pool of water connected to the whole.
No! Not Duhkha!
The sanskrit term duhkha means suffering, pain, or distress. They say that not seeing duhkha is actually duhkha itself. Afflictions of the mind.
When I think about duhkha, I can’t help but think of a response I once made in a check-in when asked what I am looking to heal from. I simply answered that I believe when suffering comes into my life, I deal with it. Was this my version of aversion? I can’t help but associate to this when somebody says they are learning how to love their self more by not listening to anybody else.
Duhkha is understood to come from three main afflictions: rāga, dvesha, and moha.
Rāga comes in the form of craving, clinging, and greed.
Dvesha comes in the form of aversion, hatred, avoidance.
Moha is our delusion.
I know we are all dealing with our own suffering, our own lack of satisfaction. They’re natural, of course, since we are human and subject to laws of being human. However, it is understood that our afflictions take us away from the phenomena of life.
But the only way through afflictions is to truly understand them, come to terms with them, really dive into the depths of them and investigate their sources. To let them carry ourselves down and have the unbiased, unashamed compassion and softness to help ourselves back up and rebuild ourselves with each new truth that comes our way.
So then the solution to our afflictions is not to draw ourselves away from this awareness into a self love above all else… To me this feels like an isolation of me from you, a stressing of the capital ‘I’, a clinging to life. An idealized representation of what life should look like because I saw it like that on an Instagram post and I’m not diverting from it because that dream is too beautiful.
It is an interesting time for us humans right now because not a day goes by when we’re not bombarded with ideas of a better life, a better way, a way to consume and buy in to. Not all is bought or consumed, to be sure, but we’re forced to weed through nearly everything that we see to interpret for ourselves what is truth, what we can or should believe, and what is gospel spoken from the mouth of a propaganda machine. And further, advertising is scientifically engineered to appeal to ourselves and we can’t help but be subconsciously influenced by this attractive image.
Selfless love, on the other hand, feels to me like the energy needed to make less ripples in the water. It gives me the energy to listen to your opinion, to be concerned with your state of being, with your wellness, to have the time to do the dishes or listen to you while drinking tea with you. It’s giving to you without having you first consume from me. Selfless love gives me the energy to turn off the tv, to fight the distractions, to serve the guide.
Which brings us back to square one, self love. In the western culture I belong to, consuming is considered a self love act sometimes. Buying a new book to find the answer, buying a yoga class ticket, buying a movie for a night in with a bottle of bubbles. It’s all based on consuming, rewards based on consumption, not rewards based on giving. I feel that the wick of self love is one that gets depleted the more it’s used, not rejuvenated.
Does selfless love fill our bellies? When we give selfless love do we get rewards? Perhaps somewhere in here there is a qi that can be found with a quieter way of living.
“When you can simply look without being identified with the mind, without judging, without appreciating, without choosing – you simply look and the mind flows, a time comes when by itself, of itself, the mind stops. When there is no mind, you are established in your witnessing. Then you have become a witness – just a seer – a drakshta, a sakchhi. Then you are not a doer, then you are not a thinker. Then you are simply being – pure being. Then the witness is established in itself.” ~ Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh