This is my first blog in over a month. Thanks to all of the people who have sent responses, and encouraged me to write more. I have taken it to heart, and will write another blog in a week. This has been somewhat hastily put together, so I apologize for any apparent rambling.
Several nights ago I had a dream. I often don’t remember my dreams, so this dream was unique in that I remembered it very clearly. In the dream I was speaking to someone, and telling him to remember that I loved him. It was not a romantic event, but those were the words I spoke.
And then, in the dream, I was told – or perceived – that I wasn’t speaking from my authentic Self. I found this very interesting, and in the dream I began to ponder what that meant, and what loving really was.
When I woke, this was still on my mind, and I thought about it for some time. I actually think that maybe in the dream some Higher Self, or Intuition, was guiding me to look at this and come to some understanding regarding love and loving.
George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “You can only love others when you love yourself.” That, or a variation of it, had been a well-known platitude long before Shaw wrote it. Some might say that advice is just an overused bromide. But the thing about platitudes is that, while we may have a habitual response to them, there’s a reason they’ve been around for so long, and are so oft-repeated. It’s often because they express a deep truth, and there is a great deal of value in the advice they offer.
So I looked at this truism. “You can only love others when you love yourself.” I spent an hour in a meditative/contemplative state in which I went deeply into the question of self-love. I took a walk in the park near my home, and on the walk every tree, rock, bird and all the other walkers (and their dogs) seemed full of love to me. The birds were so happy to greet me; the trees were lush and full of life. The dogs all wanted to say hello. I was full of love, and I saw love in everything.
A small digression here. Have you ever been an observer of an event, and then later heard someone relate the event in an entirely different way than you heard or saw it? You observe an exchange between your friend and another person which seems pleasant enough, and then later your friend relates the exchange, describing the other person as totally rude and unpleasant. You wonder whether you and your friend were in the same room when this event took place. I think this kind of thing happens often, and it made me look at perception, and how it colors all we experience.
What I came to see with full clarity on my walk and in my meditation is that, if everything I perceive is filtered through my perception, then it is all an aspect of my nature. So in loving myself, truly and really appreciating all the aspects of myself, including imperfections and difficulties still to be surmounted, then I see the world as full of love, and I come to love everything else, or at least have compassion or understanding.
Our ideas about what this world is about are all our own creation, because those ideas emanate from our perceptions. So each person, tree, animal, or rock we come across is viewed from our own lens, our own experience of it. This made me realize I create everything from my image – or, perhaps more precisely, everything is as I image it. It also means that everything is a mirror for me, to hold up to myself, and see. If I dislike someone, then there is a mirror to look at, and learn from. (This may be why experience is the best teacher, if we are willing pupils.)
Now I realize that this may sound self-centered, but I don’t mean that the world is all about me. I mean that the world each of us lives in is the world each of us creates. So every idea and perception in your life is created from your perceptions, and can be a mirror for you. If you see a lot of unpleasantness, unkindness and negativity, maybe it’s a good idea to look at yourself in that mirror, and see how much of what you perceive is created by the lens you’re looking through.
“You can only love others when you love yourself.” I could have repeated that saying a thousand times, and I have known it intellectually for years, but it became real and true from my heart on that morning a few days ago, and everything opened wide.