Many of you wrote to me about my attempt to love someone I cannot love. All of you said something on the order of: the one you cannot love is an aspect of you.
I understand that to mean that the one I cannot love is a mirror; that if I look at the quality I despise in her, I will see a quality that I also carry.
Well, (hem and haw) that’s true. No question about it. Even if her action may be an action I wouldn’t take, I can clearly identify some essential quality behind or beneath her action as something we share.
Then it must follow that if I am to love her, I will also love myself!
If love is my path, my next step is surely to feel love for those I cannot love.
Every now and then recently, I am surprised by a vision of being surrounded by people I cannot love. I stand on my path of love, and I am encircled by these people. Despicable Woman is one of them, of course, but she is certainly not the only one. (Now listen, I know you don’t like that name. Neither do I. And she isn’t a truly despicable person. But naming her such is a nudge for me to get over my resentment and get on with my life and my path. Naming her such shows me how ridiculous my resentment is.)
I haven’t yet identified the others who surround me, because every time I get a glimpse of the situation, I veer away from it. But clearly, in this vision I am surrounded by people I have, in the past and until now, chosen to disdain. And since I am surrounded, there is nowhere else for me to go. If I am to continue on my path, I must address this. I must feel love for those I cannot love.
I understand that if I let go of my resentment and judgment towards them, I’ll be able to let go of my identity as victim — and that is a burden I will be glad to be out from under. It’s a burden I’ve been crawling out from under for decades. This is the next step — feel love for those I cannot love. And if I can feel love for those I cannot love, then that part of me that sees itself as unlovable (as victim) will experience being loved. What’s not to like about that?
And so I’ll stand in the middle of the circle, and face them one by one. I’ll face them and then ???
I’ll let you know.
A reader asks:
Can I really learn to radiate love and be at peace?
How do I love someone who did something despicable?
This whole love thing might just be too hard! Why is it my path? Why did I choose it? Why did it choose me?
But none of that really matters. It is my path. Period. Nothing to do but get over myself and get on with it!
And so, we practice — because what we practice, we get better at.
Yes, with practice you can learn to radiate love and be at peace. With practice, I can manage to love someone who did something despicable.
There was a song (by The Joy of Cooking band. Who remembers them?):
“Sometimes like a mountain, love seems too tall, and though I’m climbing I’m not sure of where I’m going.”
Remember, you radiate love from, not to.
Do you remember that old New Age practice of surrounding other people in White Light? It said: Do you know someone who needs healing? Are you having a conflict with someone? Simply imagine them surrounded in White Light. It is easily done.
At the risk of going on a bit, let me tell you a true story.
I know a woman who many years ago did something toward my step-kids that I considered despicable. To this day, should I happen to see her in the neighborhood, I bristle. (It’s interesting to note that bristles have two ends — while they poke outward, they also poke inward. So if I bristle at someone, I also bristle at myself. Say that the inward bristle poke feels like a mosquito bite; imagine what I must do to endure the feeling of a hundred mosquito bites. Imagine how much I must close down.)
But back to Despicable Woman. It would be fairly easy for me to imagine her surrounded in While Light. (God knows she needs it!) (Just kidding.) (Kind of.)
The greater challenge is for me to love her. And remember, love is unconditional. (Ooh, I can barely continue. I am stymied!)
Do you see it? Surrounding her with White Light is about my perception that she needs healing, but loving her unconditionally is about my healing, my development.
How do I love someone who did something despicable?
Good question. To be continued.
Other manifestations of love, from readers: courage, optimism, awe, and remember that love is without conditions — no ifs, ands, or buts.
The reason I began listing manifestations of love is because it was easier than describing the physical, felt experience of love. And that’s what you radiate — the felt experience. You can’t radiate a thought. You can’t radiate an idea. You radiate what you are feeling. You radiate what you are experiencing within.
But knowing the manifestations of love can be useful as we attempt to radiate love. “Love” is a rather non-specific word. “Appreciation,” however, or “generosity,” for example, are more specific, and I can perhaps more easily find my way to feeling one of the manifestations of love.
I’ll check my list of manifestations. Can I experience all of them in one day?
Love is such an imprecise word.
I was wondering if I could parse it out a bit, perhaps identify various aspects of love. Once I began listing them, I realized they are not so much aspects as they are manifestations of love.
Compassion, empathy, appreciation, wonder, gratitude, generosity, kindness, forgiveness, open-heartedness.
But it seemed to me there was something missing. Then last night I watched the movie Harold and Maude, and I knew what was missing from my list — joy!
What else is missing? What are your manifestations of love?
I haven’t written for a while because I didn’t know what to write. What could I say? That I fail more than I succeed at radiating love? That’s the truth. I return, again and again and again, to the practice of radiating love. But I don’t seem to be able to stay there for very long.
Then, just the other day, I found myself radiating love spontaneously, naturally, automatically!
And that is the purpose of practice. Teachers see it — a student struggles and struggles to learn a new skill, and fails and fails. Then, in the blink of an eye, they’ve got it! Click!
It’s a good feeling.