The individual seeks not his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Agape does not begin by discriminating between worthy and unworthy people, or any qualities people possess.It begins by loving others for their sakes…(It) discovers the neighbor in every man it meets….Agape makes no distinction between friends and enemy; it is directed to both–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Satisfaction in individual love cannot be attained without the capacity to love one’s neighbor, without true humility, courage, faith and discipline. In a culture in which these qualities are rare, the attainment of the capacity to love must remain a rare achievement.–Erich Fromm
The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe–Joanna Macy
2017 it is.Year of the Rooster awaits and its a fiery one at that.There is talk of transition– political roulette is being played on many levels, in government halls, on the streets, where the money is made and where it is never to be found, in zones of war as well as in the houses of peace. But does all this reflect what is most important, most valued, most dear, to us as individuals, as a people, as citizens of a time when it is easy to spot enemies but be blind to friends?
The public carnival on display may (or may not) bring clarity, meaning, or hope to our lives, the lives of our children, and the generations beyond them. But if we can consider shifting the spotlight again and again to a more intimate stage–our own hearts– perhaps we will begin to develop an ability to see–to feel more accurately– what is truly needed at all times, in any place, no matter who is president, what you believe in, or who you find yourself to be. It is here where we have the potential to discover our most potent, sincere, transformative, and hopeful wishes– and learn to experience and share what is truly possible as human beings.
In this realm that is the heart –our own hearts– we can encounter the practice of loving all aspects of ourselves and learn to recognize and welcome the distinctions and differences that present themselves, not as contradictions between right and wrong, not as evidence that something is threatening because it does not fit the mold or storyline self-invented long long ago. You will notice how from the day we are born, the diversity within each of us will be shaped and molded by a mind and a society that rewards or encourages some qualities but stifles those unknown to it, especially those things that are not easily placed into a box bejeweled with conditions, expectations,projections,and rewards.
The world has its rules which we are told bend only for reasons of will, power, and control. But please do not let this happen in your heart of hearts. Love all that arises–unconditionally–as you would your neighbor. Especially love, the difficult feelings, the ones that you do not know, understand, or even like, learn to become friendly with them. Greet them, share a moment with them, trust them, and let them into your heart. The suffering we feel, the discomfort, and need to shut ourselves away from ourselves and other, out of fear, disgust, anger, judgement, hatred, greed are signs to put out a new welcome mat, not because we are bleeding fools who enjoy wearing compassion as the latest fashion statement. But because by watching the feelings that arise in response to the the neighbor who triggers them, we can come to accept our own inadequacies and still come to love the heart that holds them.The heart that has room for us all.
This I would offer is our true nature as humans.Our precious unspoken gift, the call of being human, even though history past and future tries to suggest otherwise. Our own mental and emotional reactions try to suggest otherwise. Our institutions, associations, organizations,clubs, and clans also try to suggest otherwise. They will always say, love only me! honor only me! serve only me! Exclusivity,partisanship, membership,isolation are jealous walls we need not build for they protect us least from the harm we cause ourselves.
So for this reason, I say: love all, honor all, serve all that appears in your heart and when you have a sense of how this works go out and do it again and again and again, with others, for others.There is no end to this work of making love visible, of making all of us whole.There is no greater joy in this life than to live the light of this all encompassing web of compassion and care.