Sunday, May 4, 2014

Be good in your heart first

Some people want to have their own way in all things: that is bad; there is a fault in that. Those others are a little better who truly want what God wants and don't want anything against His will, but if they should fall sick they would wish it were God's will that they should be better. These people, then, would rather that God willed according to their will than that they should will according to His. This may be condoned, but it is not right. The just have no will at all: whatever God wills, it is all one to them, however great the hardship. — Meister Eckhart, the complete mystical works, page 329.

 It's very important to understand this question of self-will, and wanting everything for myself. This is a childish attitude, born in the material world and completely attached to it. Almost everyone lives most of their life racing around a maypole of their own desire, hypnotized by their own wants and needs. We are all like this; only denial and our buffers lead us to believe otherwise. Yet the highest inner calling is a selfless one; and the thoughts that are of the self are of this world. 

Meister Eckhart also says, All the love of this world is based on love of self. If you had abandoned this, you would have abandoned the world. (Ibid, p. 330.)

 It is necessary, Dogen reminds us, to become leavers of home—to abandon the world— in order to discover enlightenment. And this much is certain: all of the destruction and hatred that emerges within this world emerges from self-love, from the desire to take from others and have for oneself. Swedenborg argues that we are all born this way, and that there is a pathological hatred at the heart of every man's lower self, a hatred which has this desire to take from others and even destroy them. If we sink lower into being, we become slaves to these impulses; take a look around you, and see if it isn't so.

The compelling question that we must bring to our own Being is just how much we are like that. Insofar as our life arises from our own desire, from our own love for our own selves, to that extent it does not love the good, because the good finds itself naturally within service and a loving attitude, not within an attitude that takes and destroys, and is based on fear and hatred. Yet we see that our media, our politicians, yes, even some of our ministers and churches dare to claim that fear and hatred are good things; and if you were wondering whether we live in the time of the antichrist, these evidences should make it clear enough.

A man or a woman must make a choice within themselves to stand for the good, and to go (as Gurdjieff advised) against our desires for ourselves. There must be an effort to be generous; to presume that wealth can be shared, and that others can be supported.

This generosity needs to begin within the kernel of divine love and Being that we naturally have, not from within a set of formal ideals, or laws and principles instilled in us by society. If we do not discover the spark of divine love and being within ourselves as an active force, everything we do from ourselves is false; because we ourselves are false, we begin in falsehood, and it is only by opening to the inward flow and the divine love of the Lord that goodness can begin to act within us.

This is why there is no use, in the end, in passing laws to enforce goodness and generosity. Do it, by all means; but remember that a generosity that begins in the law and not in the heart has no heart in it.

Be good then in your heart first; and then elsewhere, and in other places.



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  2. All the strands which you have woven together all state the same principle, form a deft proof of the need of self investigation.

    In my inward struggle I have seen that my self-love is only a compensatory reaction to my self-hatred, which I've come to believe is at the bottom of things.

    Christ Lord Jesus said that the law can be reduced to the love of God and the love of "One's Neighbor AS Oneself". But how can I love my neighbor when I hate myself and transfer it to him? Those are the depths in which I struggle today. I appreciate your continuing efforts to place before us these ideas/principles to ponder.

  3. Well put Richard, we try and fill the void (mask our self hatred) with a pseudo-love that only causes more pain.

    "I love him who loves work." There doesn't seem to be a way around this ("work"), and Gurdjieff loved those who were aware of this fact because they were already half awake.


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