Do You Love Yourself?
From the the title of this post some of you may be thinking this is going to be about ‘we should love and forgive ourselves’ blah blah blah. But in fact it’s about loving ourselves too much….
What Is Love?
Love is not something you do. Nor something you decide upon. For example, if you have kids, you don’t say I’m going to try to love my kids. Love simply arises. It’s an energetic thing. You don’t bring it on by choice, or make it stronger, or weaker. It’s not something you can manipulate. Sure, you can deny it, but you can’t change it just by deciding to do so. It’s not a switch you turn on like a light.
To further clarify, take this catchphrase I just saw on some website: ‘Think Love, Be Love.’ Now, this is an oxymoron. To say ‘I’ll be love’ is not being, it’s a doing (in order to be). If you already are love, then why do you need to do the being? It’s quite a silly thing, imho.
Love is just arising energy. Powerful for sure, but we are not its creator.
Identity Is Hard Work
There is a lot of emphasis on loving ourselves, but don’t we love ourselves enough already? What I am talking about here is the constant focus we have on ourselves. It is something that everyone has, this self-focus. If you ask yourself, who or what is it that you think about the most, the answer of course is YOU.
Do you know the story of Narcissus? He gazes into a pool at his own reflection and falls in love with it. It’s not quite so apt here, as he does think the reflection is someone else. And by the way, I’m not saying you can’t appreciate your own looks, but it illustrates the point about how we rate ourselves so highly…
It’s not just rating ourselves highly though. In spiritual circles, it is called ego. I like to call it attachment to the ‘me.’ This attachment is ever-present, and only on momentary occasions do we operate from a perspective of freedom from this attachment.
Identity is basically self-consciousness. Self-consciousness arose when we became aware of ourselves as a separate individual when we were babies. After that we began to hone and refine this sense of self so that we would for eg, come off looking good, or wise, or funny, or intelligent, or whatever it is that we think will keep us from pain/suffering essentially. And in the constant, unconscious acts of always seeing things (instinctively) from the perspective of our own individual self, we become far from loving. Instead everything becomes a subtle manipulation and control over conversations and actions. The self must ‘win’ at all costs. It’s hard work!
I remember when the sense of my own identity began to fall away, I had a thought one day and it was: ‘Boy, Reena, it’s hard work being you!’ I had become poignantly aware through energetic shifts within me that the false identity I had been playing out all this time, was fake, and that it had involved a lot of lovelessness towards myself and others. The way this shift felt was that I no longer felt like me. I felt alien to myself. And no, I wasn’t schizophrenic. I knew I wasn’t losing any marbles, I knew what I was going through very few people would be able to relate to, as it sounds like you’re a looney when you talk about this stuff with people who are not what you could call spiritual questioners. The point is that unconsciously playing out our roles is very much hard work, a heavy energy, and in the end, it’s a self-fulfilling thing because it keeps the illusion of a separate self going. It’s a vicious circle because what we really want is the bliss of beingness that is there when we’re not promoting our ‘me’ all the time.
As the roles I had played, the ‘me’, fell away in their meaning, there was enormous relaxation. Here is soemthing I wrote around 2009 about this:
“For the first time in my life I saw my ego at play as if from a distance. The funny thing was that up to that point, I had thought of my ego, or personality, as me. This was so obvious to me it was never questioned. But now, I saw the ego’s ferocious and anxious need to maintain and protect itself, and I saw that this need constantly – even on a miniscule level – influenced my thoughts, actions and beliefs. This movement of the ego involved a subtle and sometimes aggressive manipulation of conversations and people. It also rarely listened properly, as it was too busy listening to itself. It jumped in, interrupted, showed off. It needed to be distracted. Manipulation and control were its language. Where control could not be achieved stress was experienced. There was a sense of something lacking, something wrong. There was always some motive, something to be achieved. I saw how I had so often done things, even acts of so-called ‘generosity’ or sacrifice, for myself rather than the recipient, despite appearances. There was always a gain for the ego, a desperate need to feel good about ‘me’, a need to win. What it didn’t see was that winning was not in the end winning.”
I became less serious about myself, others and life. That doesn’t mean I became superficial – far from it. In fact, it’s the opposite. As the heavy layer of attached personality lifts and fizzles away into the nothing it is, there is then space to FEEL. To BE. To DO. But without the ever-present parrot of identity chirping away on your shoulder commenting on and judging almost everything that goes on. When this parrot flies off there is great relief.
But for the vast majority of people, there is a dependence on this parrot. In fact what is known is only life with one’s unquestioned attachment to one’s identity, nothing apart from that is known. And when a glimpse of life without this sense of self is seen, there is a quick dash back (uncosnciously) into this sense, as eg pauses in conversation can be difficult, meditation virtually impossible, etc. People just won’t allow the constant mind-activity to halt a little. Uncomfortable feelings and thoughts? No way! I’d rather wear myself out trying to look good every single moment of every single day. LOL.
Don’t worry, I fill silences too…but arising negative emotions don’t end up meaning very much in the end, it’s just energy surfacing. The meanings, beliefs and assessments we do about ourselves constantly and about others – they take up less energy and space and waft away quicker, as the me-story collapses.
I was going to write that I hope this is ‘making sense’. The thing is that one can’t intellectually ‘understand’ this sort of stuff….Rumi said “Two there are who are never satisfied — the lover of the world and the lover of knowledge.” Thus, knowing or ‘getting it’ is not what it’s about (spiritual awakening, collapse of attachment to identity). You could also say a third: the lover of self. Just like Narcissus, who died of grief and unrequited love – in reality for himself…
It isn’t about giving any methods in this post of how to let go of identity for eg, or any such idea. There is no right way or wrong way. There is just a heavier and lighter way.
The ‘best’ imho is to do what Rumi recommends in this quote:
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
And facing these barriers is for sure love.
I hope you enjoyed these ramblings!
Comments, as always, welcome.
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