Love your neighbor

Yesterday at work, I felt love for everyone around me. Friends, strangers, and even those whom I sometime don’t get along with so much. It’s a wonderful feeling.

It was partially a conscious decision—I want to love them. It was also grace.

And the only thing that was strange was how rare it is in my life, and I suspect, the lives of most others, to consciously feel love towards others unconditionally, outside of the safe circles of friends and family.

As a Christian, I remember being told that love isn’t a feeling, but willingness to help, and wanting the best for everyone. While that’s true, I think it’s more a starting point than anything else, or maybe even a cop-out.

Feeling love is possible! It’s fun! Yes, I had some moments of anger and frustration yesterday too, but they popped out of existence in seconds, like bubbles. Love your neighbor. It’s simpler than I thought.

I love you, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

18 thoughts on “Love your neighbor

  1. i had not visited your site in quite some time and how wonderful to open it and read of your love experience. love is a practice, and love is a state of being, as you experienced yesterday. it seems to me you were in your most pure state, one of acceptance of and love for everything around you. this is what it means to be divine. i will look forward to reading more about how this experience unfolds for you. i, too, love this way of being and this place of residence….

  2. Love is definitely the way ahead, if nothing else. Your post awakened the feeling inside of me.

    I’ve spend so much time concerned with other issues in my life recently, I haven’t let my love out that much, to the point where I’d forgotten all about it.

  3. you wrote “It was partially a conscious decisionI want to love them. It was also grace.”

    it seems to be my experience, and your writing reflects that it may be your experience as well, that my conscious decisions create an opening for a state of grace–i mean that in my sincere, honest struggles toward truth and openness and toward the Spirit, grace opens to me. our choices and efforts to love lead into the grace of love. i can’t do it alone…my efforts are simply that and grace has to come to me but there seems to be twofold work from our end and from God’s end and our sincere efforts become blessed.

  4. Is it grace? Yes. Is it a conscious decision? Yes. In my experience it involves some kind of decision not to oppose the way reality presents itself to you. In not wanting the moment (and the people and events in it) to be different, you experience appreciation for the way things actually are. Not trying to change things, you live naturally from grace.

    Is this one of the core meanings of “surrender” in the Christian tradition? I suspect that it is. In Zen as well, this is a fundamental teaching, though here it is normally spoken of as “non-attachment”. Says Seng-t’san: “Do not search for the truth; only cease to cherish opinions.” Truth manifests itself naturally if you stop trying to force your will on the world. Love and gratitude are some of the components of that Truth.

    This was sort of the “accept the moment as it is” approach. This I have found to be true. But I guess an equally valid approach is consciously deciding to love someone (everyone). I’ll try that…

  5. This is a great post. I love all of your posts. I have been reading for a while. I’m not sure why I haven’t commented yet. Well much love sir!

  6. I’d agree that feeling is part of it but it is not all of it… love is also that willingness to help, even when you don’t want to – it’s the conscious decisions that we make about our attitudes and actions toward one another.

    “In my experience it involves some kind of decision not to oppose the way reality presents itself to you.” Nice.

    The warm fuzzies are a lot of fun, but whaddaya do when they fade?

  7. Nice post, Jon. I, too, have had this experience many times. Sometimes, usually during Quaker Meeting, this feeling just comes over me, and I begin to think about each person there, and as though I was an invisible presence in the room, I begin to mentally hold them, cradle them, in love.

    What comes first – the feeling or the decision? What compels and promotes this feeling when it just happens out of nowhere? That’s a part of the mystery I have grown to love.

  8. What a lovely post. And what a lovely experience! 😉

    Actually, it seems to me that there are two ‘Graces’ here. First, there is the Grace that predisposed you to make the intention to love. Without this fundamental Grace, we cannot even conceive of doing this.

    Then there was the Grace that came because the combination of the first Grace, and your effort to align yourself with it (and not to be diverted from your intention) created an opportunity for it to enter, or ‘descend’.

    My first reaction to your point about love being ‘a willingness to help’ was that it was wrong, but actually I realize that it is correct (although not properly expressed). We cannot love without the Grace that gives us the predisposition and willingness to love, and the Grace that is the manifestation of Love in us. All we can do, ourselves, is be willing to help Love – and even this we cannot do without the desire to help being manifested in us.

    But, as you say, there is more to it than this. I was taught – not as a Christian, but among the Sufis – that Love is an energy. It is the only unconditioned energy in the universe – the only form of energy that is not produced by something else within the universe, and thus it is the fundamental energy of the creation. The feeling of Love is therefore not Love itself, but the way Love affects our feelings.

  9. What a wonderful post. And so true too.

    Love is a choice…When I choose to live in love…peace soon follows…amazing how that works…I love your site…thanks for being an agent of change…

    peace

  10. “Feeling love is possible! Its fun!”

    As with everything, I think it’s a Both-And instead of an Either-Or. In other words the love as feeling and the love as action are both true and necessary. In fact, it’s possible that one always leads to the other… it’s the “fake it till you make it” when you’re not feeling it… which will lead you to possibly feeling it. And when you are feeling it, you can’t help but act! It’s one of life’s greatest joys.

  11. Two comments here, one external, the other internal:
    First, on the level of ideas: have you ever read the conservative theologian John Piper, of Desiring God Ministries? He describes himself as a “Christian hedonist” with the saying: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” The idea is that the saying “Delight yourself in the Lord” is a commandment, and [very much in line with your post here] the delight in God and in love is an essential component of love for Him and for all His creatures. Yes, love is a grace, and love is a choice; I believe the grace comes first, because without it we have no power to make the choice….If we love only out of duty, without feeling (or desire, deep feeling), it will become dry and lifeless.
    Second, internally, I have had this kind of experience quite recently too, like you had at work, and like Meredith had at Quaker meeting. Our meetings are not so quiet, but often when basic teaching or dialogue are happening (which they freely do in our meetings, for which I am grateful), I am aware of but not much involved in the procedings, and I am “taken up” into an awareness of the beauty and the glory of each one there–especially the children!–I see a tiny glimpse of what God sees in each one (because it is that spark of His divine nature that He is continually creating there). This can be emotionally overwhelming, the grace of love….Sometimes lately it has been too much for me to contain, and I have asked permission to share what I see, to encourage these beautiful saints who so seldom can see any of this in themselves–though they are growing in this giftedness too.
    I guess I am not so spiritual as you are to be able to see this at work: my workplace is a place of conflict much of the time, spiritual conflict and personality conflict; and it is a real challenge to see the image of God in people in whom it seems to be so carefully hidden! I guess it is perfectly safe (and wise) to pray for grace here too, and to continue to act lovingly and to believe that this treasure is hidden in there; to work to dig it out and honor it when it shows up–a big job, requiring more love energy than the “job” itself. I suspect this is my real job!
    Blessings to all,
    Peter

  12. Yikes! That comment above was supposed to go on the thread about the Golden Path…

  13. This post captured my attention, as it resonated with the surprise I felt at the end of a two week period when I was practicing a formal metta meditation each morning. I found myself suffused with love for the people around me. Before then, I had supposed that love was a kind of mysterious grace that appeared unexpectedly and departed as unexpectedly. To find that love can be, instead, a way of life that can be cultivated and developed was noteworthy, but not startling.

    The startling part was that I found myself feeling it, too.

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