Sunday, June 18, 2017

Under obedience, love prevails: part I: the three bad attitudes

Part of a series of notes to myself about Love.

A great struggle takes place between Love and neglect. 

When I speak of this in words, at once my intellect does three things: it believes it understands, it makes it impersonal, and it places the question as one that takes place within time. 

The intellect can't understand this question, because it is the original source of my neglect. It's the selfishness of intellect, its refusal to cooperate with my other parts, that causes it to neglect. It already thinks it knows better than my body or feeling because its facility with facts has caused it to become arrogant. I'm always seeing life from within this condition and have a tragic blind spot to it. 

The situation is never impersonal. The instant I fail to see my personal responsibility for this neglect I'm mistaken; yet I always want to see the struggle between Love and neglect in one of a few abstracted ways. Let’s call them the three bad attitudes:

—“That one isn’t loving." A drama played out almost exclusively using others. In this drama others are cast as inferior to me in understanding Love. They neglect; I don't. One might call this the religion of selfishness. It wears a mask of self-righteousness. 

—"Humanity is unloving"— A vast conflict painted on a global canvas; a theatrical event of physical and metaphysical proportions. In this drama the whole world is broken. I am (or will become) a sage who can somehow help fix it. Everyone neglects, but I am the sage who knows it. This could be called the religion of arrogance. It wears a mask of purity. 

—"No one loves me." Here, I'm a victim of the unloving character of others, which is a bad force directed against me personally. I am neglected. This could be referred to as the religion of inferiority. It wears a mask of surrender. 

There is, of course, the flip side of this coin, whereby the intellect instructs me that everyone is loving, Love conquers all, Love is eternal, etc. This trivializes Love because it reduces it to something that humans think they can understand; and the bottom line is that we can’t. The most we can understand is a reflection of Love; and it is, at best, a very distant reflection indeed. We have various flavors and versions of this “Love is all you need” philosophy in spiritual work; more often than not, when encountered in this way, it becomes a tool for dismissing the reality of how distant we are from real Love. 

My selfish and egoistic parts don't want to see my lack of Love—ever—as a failure on my own part that emanates from me. Most of us are blends of the three bad attitudes, but one usually dominates. Each one of them draws their hypnotic power from an underlying truth which has been twisted into a shape that prevents me from recognizing it. 

Shanghai, March 3 2017.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

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