Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Discovering The True Self/Thoughts On Love

One of my favorite thoughts from Buddhism is the idea of discovering the face we had before our parents were born. This is the face of the true self. The true self is who we are in God. Unfortunately, the face that we present and that others see is usually the face of our false self. It is not who we really are. The process of becoming a Buddha, or an "enlightened one" is to peel away the layers of the false self and discover our true self. This process of awakening is part of all spiritual journeys, regardless of the tradition. All Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and others are all seeking this in some fashion or another. What would our world be like if we all attained this state of awakening and inner conversion? What would daily life be like if we were all our true and good selves? The world would never be dark and evil would cease to exist because we would all be glowing and full of light.

The point of all spirituality and spiritual practices is not to rack up brownie points with God. God doesn't need anything from us. The point of the spiritual life is the transformation of the human heart. You can go to church ten times a day but if nothing is happening or changing within you, you may as well go to the track. Everything in the spiritual life, and the transformation of the human heart, is all about love. If there's no love, there's no spiritual life. If your spiritual life and your daily living are not making you a more loving person, you're spinning your wheels and you are stuck in the mud. I think life's final exam will only have a few questions. It won't matter what you were in life. God won't say, "Buddhists to the right, Hindu's to the left. Christians, Muslims, and Jews, go to the head of the line. The only thing that will matter is who we were and how well we can answer the following questions.

Did you let go of your ego?

How much did you love?

Did you live with joy?

Did you forgive?

Were you grateful for all the beauty in life?

Did you notice the color purple?

The last time I shared this last question some people asked what it meant. It's from the book entitled The Color Purple by Alice Walker. In the story one of the characters remarks "I think it pisses God off if you don't notice the color purple".

It's easy to say that it's all about love but what is love? Sometimes I think I understand what love is and other times I feel clueless about it. It seems like a simple concept but I don't think it is. Maybe it's because there seems to be so many kinds of love. There's romantic love, parental love, grandparent love, and the love of friends. I believe my parents love me but they've never actually said it. I grew up in a family where emotions were rarely expressed. Of course, I don't know that I've done any better. In many ways my family is the same. I have a very nice family but emotions and feelings are rarely expressed. I guess that I am more like my parents than I realize. The birth of my granddaughter released emotions that I never felt before. Sometimes when I look at her I think that I've never loved anyone as much as her. Other grandparents that I've talked with seem to have the same experience of grandchildren. Outside of my family I have people in my life who are dear to me. Do I love them? Certainly I care about them, some more than others, but do I love them? What's the difference between caring and loving? Like everyone else I want love in my life but what is the price of love and what do we expect of love? We want love but are sometimes suspicious of it. We wonder about the cost of love and the demands it may make upon us. If I was honest I would have to say much of the love in my life has been difficult and demanding. I don't think I have ever experienced love the way it is portrayed in the movies. We've all had experiences where we have loved and were not loved back. Occasionally we feel unloved and we wonder why we feel that way. We all want love but it often seems to me that most of us do not get the love we need. When I feel like that I wonder what it is I need that I am not getting. I guess part of the attractiveness of love is its mystery and potential. I think there's truth in the idea that it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Love will sometimes fill us up and other times break our hearts. People we love will sometimes make us happy and other times disappoint us. Most people with children will likely experience the meaning of tough love. I hope that as part of my own transformation I will always be open to love in my life even if it is sometimes more scary than comforting.

To be is to do.

To do is to be.

Do be do be do

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