When Love Doesn't Mean Love
In the Bible, Jesus tells his disciples: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. ~ John 13:34-35
There are numerous other examples in the Bible of the importance of extending love toward others:
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. ~ 1 Peter 4:8
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. ~ 1 John 4:8
Let all that you do be done in love. ~ 1 Corinthians 16:14
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. ~ John 15:13
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. ~ Proverbs 10:12
Buddha also talks of the importance of extending love toward others. He tells us:
Just as a mother would protect her only child with her life even so let one cultivate a boundless love towards all beings.
Let him radiate boundless love towards the entire world — above, below, and across — unhindered, without ill will, without enmity.
The Torah also speaks about the importance of extending love, but love in Judaism is more of an altruistic commandment. In this article, several Jewish Rabbis explain the idea of the Torah's teachings of love from several perspectives.
From a non-denominational Spiritual perspective, it is clear then, that the underlying theme of extending love to one another is universally important for all human beings, regardless of specific religions, but what does that mean exactly?
Ancient Greek mythology talks about love also, but not as an altruistic directive. Love to the ancient Greeks dealt with the ups and downs of relationships and romantic love. This article from Reader's Digest entitled Love in Ancient Mythology explains. Archaeologists have discovered poems written on the walls of tombs and in the villages of ancient Egyptian workers, so we can see how important the topic of love has been for thousands of years. You can learn a little more about love in ancient Egypt here.
For the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, both polytheistic cultures, the stories shared about love dealt with personal romance; the good and bad that romantic love brings to each individual. In the years since Christ was born, and as more and more people turned to monotheistic religions, love took on a whole different meaning in spiritual texts. The idea of extending love to our 'brothers and sisters' had nothing to do with romantic love; it's motives were altruistic. The context of the word love was about extending genuine, heart felt empathy and compassion toward others, but to extend,one must first possess. A person who is prone to blaming others, who is unwilling or incapable of accepting responsibility for their actions, who cannot or will not bring themselves to apologize for hurting others, who carries resentments, and who does not have a personal relationship with God - or denies the existence of God altogether - cannot offer genuine empathy or compassion because genuine empathy and compassion require communion with the divine. The mind's process is not capable of generating genuine empathy or compassion because the mind's process works through continuous judgment.
Religious teachings for thousands of years were intended to help each individual person navigate life, so as people moved away from religion and/or spiritual practices and toward intellectualism, the wisdom of these teachings became contaminated and ultimately misunderstood.
Spiritual stories, themes and lessons were passed down through the generations intended to guide each individual person, not be blanket directives for groups of people. That's why governing people have tried to separate the relationship between church and state. But when you take time to consider how ingrained these ideas are in every human being's mind's process, through personal and collective education, you can begin to see how this is an impossible task, and why the distorted perspectives of individuals has bled into governing bodies and negatively impacted Western Society today.
As very young children, our mind's process associates images and actions with words, and those images and actions colour our understanding of words for decades. For most people, the word love is associated with being nurtured - the act of loving - which eventually becomes romance. The descriptions, or conclusions of childhood experiences are filed along with accompanying emotions in a mind file stored in either one's LOVE cabinet or their FEAR cabinet. As adults, the files from the dominating cabinet of one's childhood greatly influence one's perspectives surrounding the word love until those mind files are reviewed, re-assessed and re-solved from an adult perspective. If this self-evaluation isn't completed, distorted childhood perspectives are projected outward and negatively impact others.
People are not capable of performing this process of self-evaluation on their own, because the mind's process will always justify itself to itself. This is why it is so important to discuss one's progress of self-evaluation and life issues with someone who is completely objective. In fact, this is why confession is an important ritual in the Catholic religion, why it takes place in a private space, and more importantly - why it works when done in earnest.
Locate the mind file that deals with love from a Spiritual context in the filing cabinets of your mind and carefully go through it. Lift each and every filter out and ask yourself if the conclusions you have filed in there make sense to you now as an adult. When you think about extending Spiritual love, are there any negative emotions - like guilt for example - attached? If so, it's time to review, reassess and resolve.
© 2019 Penny Hodgson. All Rights Reserved.