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The Longer Story
Love, to me is the basis and foundation of all that matters. It may be the glue that holds everything together, the fabric of the universe so to speak, and the way and the heart of both faith and science. I also know that I know so very little. So who am I to embark on this endless journey? A fellow human being who wants to become more fully human, a traveling companion who has fallen in love with love.
Love is beyond any specific realm such as religion, psychology, or science. The Bible says that God is love. If this turns out to be a proven fact, there will be some revisions in our current scientific cosmological understanding. There is much left to this endless mystery to be told.
Consciousness as an example is one of those unknowns even to this day in 2020, and has not been measured or quantified. We know what it is to us as our internal states, but that is as far as it goes.
Scientists refer to it as "the hard problem" as noted by world-renowned physicist and author of The Elegant Universe, Brian Greene.
Merriam Webster defines love as, "1-a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. 2-a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend. 3-sexual passion or desire." This does not satisfy me in the least. How about you?
Why Love More? A long time ago, Jesus raised the bar for humanity by inviting us to love. Love one another, love thy neighbor, love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us.
He was not the first to invite us to love, nor is he the last. Yet his words point us to something bigger, wider, deeper and purer than anything else I have come across.
We may love our spouse, our children, our extended families, but loving others with no exceptions is a barren land where few dare to tread. His words to me are a call to a greater life for all, and an invitation to join in an experience beyond anything offered us before, or since.
To one of a different faith from Christianity, an argument might ensue as to the validity of Jesus compared to others such as Buddha or Mohammed for example, or a debate on is he or was he God. To an atheist or agnostic, these sayings might be completely dismissed because of an "anti-religious" bias. Any of these would be to miss the value and point of what Jesus may be telling us. It is not how to be a good or moral person, live the "right" life, believe in the "right" things, and get a golden ticket outta here. Our rewards, if there are any, or better to say "fruits" of living lovingly, seem to be available here and now and even better, readily accessible to each and everyone regardless of our faith or belief tradition. In some strange way, religion may not be about being religious, but about becoming more fully human as N.T. Wright, English New Testament scholar, Pauline theologian and Anglican bishop likes to say. Again, this is not about a belief but a matter of experience which becomes self validating.
The reason I hesitate to mention Jesus is that conventional understanding and biases that fill people's minds become a bias either for or against. We live in a dualistic world, where it is an either/or paradigm. Those with a Christian orientation might respond, " I too am a believer. Jesus is my personal lord and savior". This is not what I am saying or alluding to. Those who are not "believers" might launch into a "I don't believe that stuff" or, "Well I am Muslim or a Buddhist." I am not talking about tribes, here either. This should not a divisive factor. Jesus taught us that we are all on the same team. There were no outsiders, everyone was in the "inner circle".
This is also not an argument for or against God, but a deeper dive into what lies below the surface and beyond what know or can imagine. If what is at stake here and now, is our ability to love on a grand scale and experience a life and level of fulfillment that makes happiness look like a last place finisher, then consider that there just may be more to religious traditions than most of us suspect. A world that works for everyone is what Buckminster Fuller called it decades ago.
This is also not about us personally, but about us as a species—humanity, and our role in evolution and restoring that which is broken or needs attention. We have lived long enough to see that in many ways we are still mere barbarians when it comes to caring for others, our planet and even for the future for our children. Our behaviors toward "the others" is not so different from the pillaging marauders of the early centuries. We exhibit our tribal tendencies and find it easy to love those in our tribe and hate those in other tribes. We are better and bigger than that.
I strongly believe that we, all of us, would do well to re-think and constantly re-think our beliefs, our world view and especially our faith traditions along with questioning what we "think". Blind spots and personal biases are by their very nature, hidden from us. Even science, with as much validation, experimentation and evidence, is always updating itself across many disciplines. "If best practices were best, we'd still be living in caves" a friend of mine once said. There is much discussion and debate in the quantum world with more to be discovered than has ever been known I suspect. Even the materialistic and reductionist world views still cannot claim to know or understand consciousness as we have noted.
To give you an idea of what I am pointing to, consider this quote from Thomas Merton, a modern-day contemplative, mystic, hermit, activist:
“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world. ... There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed." (My emphasis in italics).
Perhaps due to the magical ways our culture has presented, written about, talked about love over the centuries, we may find that the reality and power of love is overlooked, underestimated or at least under-appreciated in the real world. The complexities of love too often remain beyond our present consciousness to understand or even imagine such a thing as an unconditional love can exist. We have no real models of it—defined as that love which cannot be denied, earned, or lost. If this be love, we have yet to scratch the surface.
However large the challenge, we do what we can to help here at The LoveMore Institute.
The world views we have lived in for millennia is based on a retributive rather than restorative paradigm. This is seen in our homes through our parenting practices and in our criminal justice systems, all using punishment as the means to teach.
Traditional cultural values typically do not include "loving others", as our ancestral brains tended to see "others" as a threat. Many today still see this as true, even though our religious systems proclaim to value "love thy neighbor".
There is change in the air, like it or not. Rumi, the mystic poet says "set your life on fire, seek those who fan your flames." I hope you are one of those ready to burn away the old life and help fan the flames of love.
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