Love the One You Are

If we put all the words that have been written about love end to end, they would probably extend as far into space as 2003 UB313, the 10th known planet in our solar system, recently discovered on the other side of Pluto. In spite of that vast written resource, most of us would be hard-pressed to define love. I can tell you what love isn’t with no trouble, but what is it? About the closest I’ve been able to come is: oneness with the beloved—not a feeling of oneness, but actual oneness. If I feel oneness, I am still outside the other. But if I am oneness, I am the other.

As I ponder these not-so-subtle distinctions, I’m reminded of “the great commandment” of Christianity, the religion of my childhood: “Love they neighbor as thyself.” I always understood this directive to mean I should love my neighbor the way I love myself, but now I’m realizing that’s not it. I think what is meant is to love thy neighbor as [the neighbor who actually is] thy self. I’m not only to treat the neighbor generously and well, as I would hope to be treated; I’m to treat the neighbor as [s/he is] me. Taken to its darkest conclusion, this directive produces suicide bombers. But on the light end of the spectrum, we find Mother Teresa.

Oneness doesn’t occur only between human beings. The essence of passion is also oneness. In the first throes of passionate physical love, we are consumed by the desire for oneness with another person. In the throes of passionate expression of self, we are one with that expression. So perhaps our second greatest challenge is to find expression—work—that we love, or at least love the work we find.

When Krishna Das (pg. 32) was a young lad, he had no clue he’d spend his adult life as a kirtan chanter. His path unfolded through a series of unanticipated events, yet when he talks about it now, it’s clear he loves what he does—he is one with his chanting. Listeners, too , become one with the music.

Rob Bresny (pg. 28) may always have been a stargazer, but how could he have anticipated being an astrologer? In the world of his childhood, there were no horoscopes to be found outside of extremely esoteric publications unlikely to have been on his parents’ coffee table. And yet, if you read about Rob, or even read his horoscopes, it’s clear that he is one with his work. He seems to reach into his heart to find his interpretations of the stars. Likewise his horoscopes resonate in the reader’s heart.

So back to my neighbor, my partner in oneness. Norman next door is a great guy—no problem there. But down the street, Ron can be pretty obnoxious. Down the freeway is Arnold Schwarzenegger and across the country is George Bush. Ewww! Suddenly oneness seems a lot less appealing—and a lot more challenging.

Valentine’s Day is a great occasion for acknowledging oneness. I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, but intentions work for me, so I’m setting a Valentine’s Day intention to be aware of oneness—with the people and living things around me, and with all that I create. As I write this, I’m wondering if this is the true essence of mindfulness—more than noticing everything we do as a perceiver, perhaps mindfulness is being one with everything we do. Breathing it.

And if all this is just a little too cerebral, go find some red construction paper, a lacy doily and some sparkles. Making Valentine cards is so much more gratifying than buying the Hallmark version, and those efforts never fail to touch the heart. Maybe I’ll even make one for George. He’ll like it—it will be red.

From my heart,
Abigail Lewis

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