Updated: Jul 20, 2022
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copyright © 2020 Oliver Bardwell
You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.
—Thich Nhat Hanh
Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that spitefully use you and persecute you.
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
What is love? There are many types of love: The love that exists between parents and children; the love that exists between husband and wife; the love of family; the love of friends. When everyone is getting what they want out of these relationships, they seem to feel wonderful. But when those involved are not getting what they want, drama ensues. This kind of love can become selfish, with conditions and ideas like “me and mine.”
There is love that draws boundaries: Love of country, love of gender, love of race, love of religion. Love like this discriminates between “us and them” and can even lead to prejudice. If someone is outside of what we consider to be our circle of love, there can be indifference or even hostility.
And how easy it can be to go from inside to outside someone’s circle of love. How many times has someone said, “I love you” only to then say, “I hate you” during a breakup or divorce, and then do terrible things to you? How many times have you said or thought you loved someone only to turn around and do the same terrible things to them? This isn’t true love. This is immature and ignorant love.
True love is ever-flowing and unconditional; it extends to all living beings. True love is the only emotion that emanates from God. True love is an expression of the Divine. As Jesus said so simply,
"God is love."
Updated Text: I was recently asked to speak at a leadership event In Okoboji. Iowa. I shared the stage with doctors and legislators from all across the state who gave presentations on medicine and medical freedom.
The event was called "Leading with Liberty" and I spoke about "Leading with Love" and creating unity. I used my Mother as an example of a self aware person, who not only knew but led with her WHY. If you happened to read the Dedication to THE WAY: A Small Book of Wisdom, you know her as the divine soul who raised me and who was my first spiritual teacher.
Excerpt from my talk: Three weeks ago, my mother passed away. I had the privilege of being with her when she made her transition and of giving her Eulogy. During that time, I took a few weeks off to be with her, to plan her funeral and to help settle her worldly affairs.
When I was preparing to write my mother’s eulogy, one of my sisters and I found some inspiring things she had written in a notebook that she kept on the end table by a chair that she spent most of her final days resting in.
Besides some of her favorite bible verses it contained a list that said at the top “what would you like to have or become” . Here are a few things that she had asterisked or underlined.
1. I want to become a person who has “total inner peace.” Which I know she achieved through her close relationship with God
2. I want to become a “kind and loving person to other people!!!”
3. I want to have “love and understanding for EVERY person I meet.” She didn’t say "just SOME people" or "people who believe the way I believe." She said, “EVERY person I
4. I want to be “the kind of person that makes people feel better just being in my presence!”
She embodied all these qualities. She was truly the kind of person who made people feel better just by being in her presence and she had love, kindness and understanding for all people.
She also wrote this statement in her note book along with some important prayers:
Judge not according to appearances. Each one of us has a divine self that is spiritual and perfect. That is the true Christ within. The REAL you. Dwell upon that and realize that presence within yourself and within everyone else.
Why would my mother want to love and understand every person she met? Why would she want to be the kind of person that makes people feel better just by being in her presence? Because she loved God and she saw the Christ within all people. Her WHY was Love and she led with it. And what a powerful WHY.
When I read these things, it reminded me of something Mother Theresa had said when someone asked her what she was doing in Calcutta. Her response to that question was,
“I’m taking care of Christ in all of his distressed forms.”
She saw the Christ within all people as well. What a great understanding and way to interact with the world.
My mother's love for people transcended likes and dislikes, conditions and judgements.
Seeing the Divine in all beings helped her to realize that every person is deserving of love and kindness.
Practice: Try to cultivate true and spiritual love in your relationships. One way to do this is to go to the relationship only to give without expecting anything in return. Give your time, yourself, your love and encouragement.
Start with your significant other, and then your family and those closest to you. In doing this, you will begin to see incredible changes in your relationships. Then extend your love and kindness to friends, and to strangers, and notice the positive changes that occur.
Finally, extend your love and kindness to people that you don’t like or toward whom you may be harboring resentment. Jesus said, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Expand your circle until your ability to love and to give has no boundaries.
You may find that the more you give, the more your capacity and desire to give will grow. Being able to do this will change your life and the lives of those around you.
God is love
Emanating throughout the universe
Love that can be found at the core of every being
Underneath the dirt and grime of the ego
Beyond the static of the mind
Love your enemies
Love your neighbor
Respond to anger with lovingkindness
Respond to ignorance with loving patience
Respond to sorrow and injury with loving compassion
Love ties the world together
Hate and anger tears it apart
The wise person is patient, loving, and kind
Don’t mistake being loving with weakness
One can be loving and firm
Loving and resolute
Loving and determined
Love is God’s peace
When irritation arises
Filter it through God’s peace
When anger threatens
Shower it with God’s peace
Any action taken in true love
Is an expression of the divinity
That resides in all beings.