Do You Have To Love Yourself To Love Others?

Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.

What does it mean that success is a dangerous as failure?
Whether you go up the ladder or down it,
you position is shaky.
When you stand with your two feet on the ground,
you will always keep your balance.

What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don’t see the self as self,
what do we have to fear?

See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.

Tao te Ching

My friend, Paul Crockett,  posed a question that I thought to be profound.  He asked, “If one does not love one’s self, can one love others?”.  He said that he believed that one can, but my first thought was, “How”? This led me to the realization that we all love ourselves.  Even when I believed that I did not love myself, I treated myself lovingly.  If I was stressed, I would buy myself a drink.  If I was sad I would treat myself to something sweet.  Sometimes, I would allow myself to separate from my sense of obligation to others, I would remove myself to be alone and lick my wounds.  Other times when I felt neglected I would take myself shopping to spend money that I did not have on something that I did not need.  I see everyone around me doing the same.  So I have never met anyone who did not love themselves.  If we did not love ourselves, then we would not become defensive when criticized or treated without respect.  We accept ourselves, warts and all, but we do so because we have no choice.

What I believe is that we are all capable of loving others, ‘conditionally’.  More than anything else, the soul incarnates time and again in order to attain the characteristic of unconditional love.  Unconditional love understands, embraces, forgives, it is without judgment.  We love ourselves, but we judge ourselves, we do not forgive ourselves, and we do not see our perfection.  We have been told that only God is perfect.  If we believe that we are parts of, born of, created by God, then we are perfect.

The spiritual path is not traveled by the soul, it is guided by the soul.  It is traveled by the ego, and the spiritual goal of the ego is to become one with its own soul.  For the soul, oneness with All-that-Is, is the goal.  The tool of the soul is the ego.  The soul is love, it is beauty, it is one with all that emanates from Spirit.  The journey, the task of the soul, through each trial and each lifetime of experiences is to tear away at the illusions held by the ego of separateness from the soul, from Spirit, and from all life everywhere.  We come to learn that we are all parts of One Whole, and the Whole is the sum of its parts.  I may be stomach cell, someone else may be a liver cell, another is a heart cell and on and on but we are all perfect in that the whole would not exist without us.

When we attain to this knowledge – when we live our lives from the foundation of this understanding, we no longer judge ourselves.  The transient scales of society which condition our judgment – fat, thin, tall, short, ugly, pretty, smart, stupid, Black, White, rich, poor, gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, Jew, all lose their ownership of our lives because we hold only the belief that we are, and all life is a perfect reflection of and vital part of the Spirit that dwells within us.

When we speak of the material world we usually think we are referring to the underlying reality — the world that we are perceiving “out there”. In fact we are only describing our image of reality. The materiality we experience, the solidness we feel, the whole of the “real world” that we know are all aspects of the image created in the mind; they are part of our interpretation of reality. Paradoxical as it may sound, matter is something created in the mind. Peter Russell “From Science To God”

Let us  ourselves as Our Creator sees us.  That we are good.  That the nameless One  The Perfect Source of our existence, would not create an image of itself that was flawed.  And if it did, the flaw itself could be nothing but a new level of perfection.  Living from this reality we not only love ourselves unconditionally, but the love that rises from our being and is felt by those around us is void of judgment, or condition.  There is an understanding that the universe is economic.  No one and no thing is created by Spirit that is unnecessary to the perfection that is All-That-Is.

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.

Tao Te Ching

Every person in our lives is a loving participant on our journey.  Some teach us forgiveness because we must forgive them.  Some teach us patience – because we need it to deal with them.  Some teach us unconditional love because they do things that are hurtful, sometimes without awareness of the effect that they have on us and sometimes fully aware.  And very often they act as mirrors – reflecting back at ourselves the things that we have been unable to love in ourselves.  If we can see each person and experience as a vital part of growth that we came into this life to attain, we will see only beauty, and be able to only love.

This is the path to loving ourselves and all whom we meet unconditionally; it is the path to union with the soul, and The Creator.  This is our purpose for the earthly experience; this is the awakening to the only real truth.  Until we are able to know ourselves only as the Spirit we imagine ourselves separate from, the love that we give and the love that we feel for ourselves will continue to make us feel like a starving man who can see but can never reach the food.

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