Pondering unconditional love

I sense a great deal of received wisdoms are just plain wrong. Undconditional love makes sense, but I also witness how it is employed as a fool’s wisdom often. 

For example, when someone is vain and full of their busyness out there “helping people” and complaining as to how terrible a certain state of affairs is, I sense it is wiser to withdraw from such misled and self-centered folk. Not permanently, but enough to make them question perhaps. They are spinning a spider web of illusions. How so, and what will it take for them to hold up the mirror to themselves?. 

I have noticed that one of the traps to helping people is the sense of pride and vanity that flows from that. Such people may practice yoga and/or acts of service and they may be very educated and claim to be most centered, but a discerning eye  can see self-centeredness, bitterness and condemnation from a long distance.

I’m not talking about those people who helped smuggle Jewish refugees in the Second World War. I’m talking about the embittered reactionary liberal mind of our time. 

Maybe they married someone who failed to live up to their expectations, or perhaps they married someone who did and the world is upsetting because so many are voting for fools or settling for the lowest common denominator, and, if only they listened to “my kind of sense”, how much saner we would be! Followed by many sighs. Repeatedly. 

Complaining can be seen as productive. The Civil Rights and Gay Rights movements aren’t about complaining though. They are movements built on standing up for the rights of man. If we have a grievance, airing it, and the temporary discomfort that brings, is often far healthier than walking around with resentment in our hearts. People and organizations do take advantage of each other. To stand up to that is sane and virtuous. 

When the bully with the most insults and biggest stick rules, we must find a way to go beyond the primitive tribal leader. Our entrenched political systems are often based on avoiding such a healing logic. But that should not stop us. History is replete with adaptions for that is the stuff of evolution. 

Centuries of tradition might have given a royal family power and sovereignty over a kingdom but that is an old and tired tribalism. Where is the fresh hope in bowing to old and crumbling empires of vanity, nostalgiic colonialism and ugly vested interest? 

The real hope lies, not in self-centered and self-serving families and entrenched interests lording over us and others, but in the family of man taking care of each other and the bountiful nature of the planet. 

It lies in a deeper and saner democratic process, one not hijacked by the fearful clutches of self-serving institutions, irresponsible corporations and immoral persons hell bent on raping the earth of its resources and its human resources at any cost, all in the name of their buried insecurities, and the fruits of that: greed and self destructive behaviors. 

When we step away from such perversion and injustice we can, and do, learn of the intrinsic evolutionary geometry in nature, and in man. 

When we are stuck in judgment and reaction then we do not learn of our deeper capacity and ubiquitous nobility. When virtue is shirked we become mercenaries to fear. 

Yet kindness and forgiveness have an untold reach. In the right hands, they can break the chains around the most closed of hearts. If we are to trust in anything it surely must be in a deepening of virtue, kindness and forgiveness. We evade and excuse this truth at great peril to ourselves. 

The camouflage of the evasion and excuses is almost endless. Such is the resistance of the ego. A very tried and tested path, yes. But one that can be easily usurped, should we turn our caring attention, and the precision of our innate moral compass, in its direction. 

Sometimes a no is a yes. Emerson encouraged us “to be an opener of doors.” I feel it wise to also close them. What do I mean? I find that the world has entered a stage of mass vanity and self promotion. And so vulnerability is shirked, especially when the assumed identity is so obsessed with being right and self-deceived. Happiness is lost in the process. 

Some of the most demonstrably helpful people are also the most frightened of being helpless, and so, it is as if they run around trying to prove to themselves, and the world, how strong and helpful they are. 

However, they do not see the ugliness of their condemning and insecure minds. They mask themselves in a flag or an ideology or a religious or political philosophy or some nationalism, however enlightened, and they become as opinionated and lacking in moral substance as those supposedly less liberal and aware as themselves, and yet, they do not see it. 

And this is important to see, for it is the ill-at-ease liberals among us, who, if healed of their self-deceptions, by admitting their shortcomings, might be the harbingers of real change. 

By “closing doors” I mean, when we lived in a slower world, in the forest with a tribe, there was a relatively small unit that we considered our group. Now, especially with the help of technology, we have branched out. 

It is quite easy to amass many “friends” we never truly meet with with the advent of the internet and so much travel and commercial and educational interests today. And I do not judge that, in many ways it is a wonder. 

But when there is no real connection, rather just a show of spectacle and information, I question where our substance and real care lies as humans. And what a grave and empowered question that is to pose!

I do notice that it is easy to lie to ourselves about our emotional needs. The greatest gift one can give a child is the demonstration of an unpressured mind, but not at the cost of our inherent productivity. 

That, inevitably, demands great wisdom. When one is attentive one can see, it is quite rare. If that is our greatest gift to ourselves, to each other and to the next generation, surely it demands inquiry and space. 

The majority, in one form or another, are inwardly pressured by insecurity. We don’t have that as a subject in school: “observing insecurity,” but we have become very well versed in coercing and arguing and proving and disproving petty points, and more substantial ones, at the cost of our implied bonds of affection. Do we not, in shock, pause and ask why?!

By far and away, this is the most important subject matter to mankind, for not observing our inner blocks denies a deeper vulnerability and openness and it is closed minds and hearts that  creates all our conflicts. 

We are trained to with skills to get jobs and to fit in to a fairly undermining system. The system, and its mechanics and profit margins, has become more important than the human being. 

What happens when one reaches a wall in an intimate relationship? It might become a bitter comfort zone that we adapt to and don’t question, or, it might break us apart in some way. 

There have been pioneers in education who see that inherently we come with different interests and gifts. It is important, and wise, to be attentive to those qualities within. 

Today, we also have these mantras about loving unconditionally. Yet when a baby takes up scissors, out of quite innocent curiosity, we quite sanely take them away. Observing certain conditions is very loving. 

So I notice these mantras like: “just love unconditionally” and I question that. Does loving unconditionally mean to let others treat me as just another brick in a wall?; an audience member to exchange superficial platitudes with, as is the very clear trend in our virtual and civil worlds? Or must we, most assuredly, dig deeper?

And does that demand a deeper questioning, to look at what is treasured and cherished? For we have thousands of years of shepherds and sheeples and that has become the hierarchical model we are imprinted with. “Follow me and I will become someone, famous, rich enlightened or just more counted than another.” How barren we have become! 

The Apache, for all their violent ways, had a different model. There was a chief but when he died any number of others would take his place. There was never a shortage and there was more self-reliance. Why have we become so sheepled?

To love might mean closing doors. Not because of a lack of affection, beneath the surface, but because others are so consumed by self-involvement and their lack of attention to each other, that it is wiser to walk away from that and stick to those with whom one shares a clearer and freer connection. 

Andy Warhol, decades ago, predicted we were entering a time where 15 minutes of fame was the new addiction. Aldous Huxley said our is the age addicted to speed. I don’t perceive Andy Warhol as a particularly happy man. I think he was shrewd and capitalized on art being comodifiable. I see that just because someone is successful does not mean their vision is particularly liberating or sane. 

Yes, fast cars and fast food and fast music is very common today. Aldous Huxley was right in that sense. But to come to wholehearted relationship demands self knowledge and a quality of discernment and a deeper nuanced understanding of trust. This is simply indisputable. 

It is impossible to commodify relationships. People require attention and care to be cherished. And we lose that when we are inattentive and lack affection as a guiding ley line of the road between us. 

We maroon ourselves on the sandbanks of a tired logic when we do not attend to these facts. I sense service is essential to fulfillment. But so too is freedom from bitterness. Bitterness and sorrow are very closely connected. Joy is unmistakable. So is infighting. The two come from different states of mind within the human being. 

Sometimes a no is a yes. Substance and caring is not an illusion. It grows from the seeds of value, virtue, principle and right attention to all three. When we irrigate the soils of our attention wisely a different quality of relating to one another arises. 

When I seek fame and special attention then our bond is less important, unless it feeds my insecure vested interests. So to close our doors on such approaches is very much liberating and inspiring. It certainly leads us to grooves of being that can and do cherish. And that is the essence of the kindness in mankind. 

We all have that potential within. Though to discover it means some marked stepping away from this accelerated pace that typifies our age, and a focused intent on how to value one another more, rather than this run away train of vanity and pride at our unseen and often sick need to help others. 

The world needs far less helpful martys and far more cherished mutual sharing.  This weary unquestioned trend must subside: the noise you make when you share, no matter how subtly, how wonderful you think you are, or the flip side of that, which is self-loathing, both are different sides of the same over used and destructive currency. 

In it’s place, a different kind of relationship where trust and meaning line our hearts, and not just our pockets, is inspired out of this moment, that, rather than the fear of rejection and the demeaning need for approval, that, surely, is what is inspired now, out of the dark soils of our pain. 

The singer songwriter Leonard Cohen wrote:

Maybe there’s a God above,

(But) All I’ve ever learned from love, 

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you.”

I sense the ground of our relationship is more important than what is assumed to be above. John Lennon dreamed of a world where the ground beneath our feet was treasured, and above us, there was the clear blue of a happier sky. 

“Unconditional love” isn’t where it’s at when there is still no real cherishing. It’s a hollow placard on the graves of what we might be to one another. So too is this way of being where I blindly condemn another because they, and I, practice ideology devoid of tenderness and real connection. Wisdom transcends the petty mindless fictions of ideology anyway. 

When principles, value and virtue are really attended to there flowers communion, and from that, comes the community implied in our nature. We bring it into form when we live with that as our essential function.