Upon birth, social programming injects a secret virus upon every human. We might even say it is the unspoken challenge that drives a soul through life.
Disguised as aspiration for authenticity, it consistently denies the possibility of attaining it. No matter what part of the world we come from, what religion we profess, what cultural or economic level we work through, or what gender colors our perception, a human being grows up to assume that they deserve better. Trophies. Poor and rich alike, somewhere, sometime, a prize is forthcoming for all the sacrifices and privations we are forced to endure. Like a carrot perpetually dangling in front of the horizon, the disease is embedded in the attitude that we possess the right to future rewards, importance, status, approval and recognition.
From our parents and our family, our surroundings, and every step we take, we voluntarily submit to discomfort, humiliation, and a wide variety of abuses that obligate us to go against our nature. We resign ourselves to physical deformation, fat or thin, muscular or weak, in order to comply with standards, opinions, crude sensitivities, and rigid beliefs, thinking that it will bring merit, solace, comfort and freedom “later”. It’s always “later”.
This becomes a full-grown belief that life and others owe us something — the fulfilment of our desires – even if sometimes couched by religious jargon and psychological justification. We expect to graduate into privilege, if not in this life surely in the thereafter. This is how civilisation offers “hope” through material manifestations, rather than through inner fulfilment.
The right to entitlement is a very deep implant in every human being. It fosters the development of the egoism of the personality and negates the genuine impulses and sensitivities that would cultivate insight, spontaneity, freedom and authenticity. It focuses on external manifestation – identity – and ignores inner sensibilities – Self.
Whenever and whatever leads to doubt, the perception that we may be worthless and undeserving, creates a crack in the foundation of our identity, through which all the anguish and pain of privation seeps through, making it even more difficult to contact innermost truth. The revelation that not only does life owe us absolutely nothing, but that we have sold ourselves short and continue to do so, that we have wasted precious time and resources, ignites a ravaging hunger within. Negativity and violence oozes through the split in our foundation like liquid ordure.
Nevertheless, the heart, and the soul begin to stir. Spiritual work begins here, between the defeats of an impossible promise, the shadow of imminent insignificance, and a vague premonition that there is something more to life. Sooner or much, much later, when we lose the sense of glitter and self-importance, we embark on the secret wisdom of the innermost recesses, the unknown Reality within us.
The journey begins.
I discover that am not who I thought myself to be and this titillating unease increases daily. I don’t know myself and that, in itself, presents a thrilling challenge. The presence within my body, my personality, my feelings, that force that enables my beliefs and circumstances appears to emerge from a place so deep inside of me, so powerful and personal as to be staggering. There I stop and there I begin.
Life becomes a series of painful inquiries, some joyous, others anguishing and exhausting. The greatest of them spins me into delirious perception of a world of half-shadows, half-light. The various and sundry adventures in my world – travels, growing up, marrying, giving birth, claiming a profession, addressing masses of people… Success and failure sweep past me like milestones and tombstones. I am left with the unimagined conundrum of its force.
And so I ask the unimaginable. Love?
Successive vignettes of my relationships with beautiful men, of friendships had, lost and forgotten, of great teachers and devoted students, and of course parents and family scurry by. I experience bittersweet pangs of what might be construed as love but, on closer examination, I see that they are the fruit of need, and reveal traces of guilt and anger. Peeling layers of excuses, justifications for physical pleasure, emotional fluctuations, mental security and addiction, laziness, ambition, loneliness… I am left with the realization that I don’t know what love is, any more than I know who I am. I know about appreciation, lots of fear, much attraction and infinite pools of gratitude, yes. Is this what love is?
Oh… we all know “how” love may be expressed and certainly what we wish it to be. We love helpless puppies, babies and the elderly “dearies”, inanimate things that bring us comfort, and people who depend on us. But need is not love. We feel loved when we are deemed important, indispensible and necessary. But usefulness isn’t love. Who doesn’t know how to be nice and agreeable, charitable, influential, supportive and all those things that supposedly define human love? But gestures and expressions are not love. Or are they?
What is that force beyond physical circumstance, convenience, or illusion? What is that strength deep inside of me, that yearning, burning simultaneous fullness and emptiness? It concerns no one else. I hesitate and wonder, following denial and curiosity. Do I dare to know the fullness of love?
To open to the power of love means to step aside, behold, and experience it. It means recognizing myself. That I am its source. There is no motivation involved. There is no purpose other than to delight and express it… every way we can. Nothing could ever contain it.
To experience this love implies feeling loved while loving myself so much that I cease to matter or even to exist. It means going beyond all boundaries to discover (it is always about discovering) that it arises freely, unconditionally, not as a response but as the source of my life. It doesn’t exist outside of me; it emerges as a function of being present. There is no cause and there is no purpose.
I may not have loved and yet I am filled by love and my every conscious act irradiates it. I lose and find myself in it. Sometimes its door is opened by a small gesture, an act, a glimpse of it in someone else, and then yes, I am aware that I love them for it. We become it. I love them because they enable me to remember that I Am Love.
Love is all that we left behind in ignorance. The closest human feeling that might resemble it is “gratitude”. Infinite gratitude sourcing Itself eternally.
I Am my own reward.