Further to yesterday’s post, each of us has the opportunity to create in ourselves a fertile and safe womb for the spirit of love. This is a matter of both mind and heart and it is the primary purpose for which our consciousness was designed.
Now some might say that this is easier said than done. There are so many reasons why man’s heart might be inhospitable to the spirit of love, especially when you review the written record of love’s treatment over the last several thousand years, but in the end each one must choose for himself whether or not his heart receives, protects and gives birth to the spirit of love.
To provide this womb you must first come to terms with the fact that you are worthy of giving residence to the spirit of love. But caveat lector, the resistance to so doing runs deeper than you might think. Despite love’s superabundantly forgiving nature, very few men in the written record have humbled themselves sufficiently and approached the matter with sufficient honesty to actually receive the full forgiveness of the spirit of love.
Man loves to implore God for the forgiveness of his transgressions, but God has already forgiven him. So if receiving forgiveness is not a matter of asking for more, praying harder or making public displays of repentance, then what is required? More of the same will not likely create a new and more desirable result, so why not take a different tack?
The different approach I would like to suggest to you today involves recognizing that you must be honest with yourself before you can be honest with God. Once you are honest with God you can begin to be honest with those around you. It is a simple sequence, but oddly man has avoided this approach like the plague…maybe because it works?
So how do you come to the point of being more honest with yourself? For starters, I think we can all agree that it is relatively easy to be empathetic to your own plight, to be mindful of your own condition. You are in your own skin, after all! But have you thought much about taking the next step, that is, from empathy to self-compassion?
Compassion is said to be the radiant action of love, the helping hand which is extended after another’s plight is perceived empathetically. You likely understand many of your problems and could, if asked, itemize the stressful or disconcerting elements in yourself and your life, but have you come to the point of extending the forgiving, intensifying and reconciling spirit of love to yourself? Do you truly love yourself?
By this I do not mean do you love yourself as a narcissist would love himself in a conceited, disconnected or self-important way, but do you love yourself because you are loved by the spirit of love? Do you love yourself because you recognize that you are here to magnify love into the world around you? Do you love yourself because you have come to terms with the fact that you cannot give what you do not have?
I read an interesting research article which looks at this matter from a slightly different perspective, but one that may shed more light on the requirements relative to developing a stronger sense of self-compassion. Here is what the authors had to say:
Self-compassion entails three fundamental components: (1) extending kindness and understanding to oneself rather than harsh self-criticism and judgment, (2) seeing one’s experiences as part of the larger humanity rather than as separating and isolating; and (3) holding one’s painful thoughts and feelings in balanced awareness rather than over identifying with them (Neff, 2003a, p. 224).[ref]http://scholar.google.com/scholar_url?hl=en&q=http://www.researchgate.net/publication/224775186_Exploring_self-compassion_and_empathy_in_the_context_of_mindfulness-based_stress_reduction_(MBSR)/file/9fcfd50a6927618c5e.pdf&sa=X&scisig=AAGBfm2BT2F29w8Dt7-HDZC-VFOP8Ha49Q&oi=scholarr. Accessed Monday, March 17, 2014.[/ref]
Self-compassion opens your eyes to the fact that you have been loved all the way along. No matter how cruel, heartless or thoughtless you’ve been, self-compassion gives you a glimpse of how the spirit of love sees you. Self-compassion, properly applied, turns up the heat in your heart and that heat, in turn, begins to clarify your sense of self.
Many people make the mistake of defining themselves by how they feel, rather than doing the work required to begin to see who they really are at the core of themselves. Self-compassion affords you a bit of respite from the roller coaster existence caused by not knowing who you are or why you are here.
If you continue in this work you will soon find yourself being more honest with yourself than you have in the past. And once that is in place…look out! You will start to be more honest with God and in turn, the world around you. Once this pattern of fundamental honesty is in place, everything changes.