Monday, 2 May 2011

a Moment for Wisdom…



“The first love affair we need to consummate successfully is with ourselves, because only then will we be ready for relationships with others.”

Nathaniel Branden

“If you ever expect to be loved, you must reveal who you are.”

Leo Buscaglia


“Conscious love has as its motive the impassioned desire that the one who is loved fully realize his or her inherent perfection, without regard for the
consequences to the lover.”

Stewart Emery

Personal Wisdom:

Do you love yourself? Are there places or aspects of yourself that you do not love?

Do you see a pattern? What would it take for you to love those aspects of yourself?

Do you reveal yourself to others? Are you aware of the “image” you project to others? How true is that “image” to your own being?

What prevents you from revealing yourself to others?

Societal Wisdom:

Do you have experience in a society where the majority of people seemed to truly love themselves and each other?  Which one(s)?

How does that society compare with the one you presently inhabit?

What is the “image” projected by America (or your current society)? How true is that “image” to the reality of the society?

a Moment with Sharif…


This is a pretty potent triple-header…

It actually took me awhile just to arrange these in the proper order! Perhaps because there is no “right order”… perhaps these three ideas circle each other in our lives.

Step One — Branden: If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others.  THERE ARE NO “OTHERS”. Which means – we have to “love” the apparently unloveable aspects within our own selves… when we do, we will then be able to love others, beyond the surface, presenting qualities that we see in them.

Here’s a test of your level of self-love: It’s really easy for me to see how well I love myself… I just look at how I interact with others. Not just the people I choose to surround myself with, the people I choose to pay attention to.  How do I interact with the street person begging for quarters? How do I interact with the teenager with the face tattoos and attitude? How do I interact with the cop rolling by in the squad car? All of them reveal to me who I am.

(Of course, there is a difference between the kind of “self-love” described here and narcissism… adoring oneself to the exclusion of others.  The subject of another “Moment” in the future…)

Step Two – Buscaglia: Next step: once I love myself, the next step is to REVEAL myself. I watch with wonder how people interact with their IMAGES of each other, then wonder why the “Other” won’t be “real” with them.

There is a difference between your SELF and your IMAGE. Ideally, there should be a
one-to-one correspondence between the two. Most of us do some “image management” – we may call it putting our best foot forward, or “looking sharp”. For some of us, unfortunately, our “image” IS our “reality” – we lose sight of who we are, what we want, what drives us, what we love… In order for us to REVEAL who we are, we must first KNOW who we are.

Then, knowing who we are, we must then have the courage to speak our truth of ourselves. And, if you are afraid that people won’t love you, if you think that people will reject you if they really get to know you… GO BACK TO STEP ONE!

Step Three – Emery: Once you love yourself, once you are prepared to reveal yourself to another, you are ready to love THEM. That means that you want for them what you want for yourself. As Scott Peck said in “The Road Less Traveled”, Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.

If I love someone, I have to be prepared that the path of their growth may take them
away from me. If so… so be it. If I’m thinking of myself, I’m going to focus on my “loss”, on my “wants” not getting met, on how the situation is “unfair”. But… BACK TO STEP ONE!
If I really love myself, I don’t “need” those things from my Other. I’m not in a state of loss, I’m in a state of love.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that the Other will not be missed, or that transitions are always easy. I cannot count the number of times I’ve been “blind-sided” in a relationship, or
pulled out of my Center, or just wished things had happened differently. (On the other
hand, I can look back to those occasions when I helped an intimate partner achieve her goals and dreams – even when those dreams took us apart from each other.)

When we see love in this light, we can see that, in many of our relationships, we use
the term “love” as a bargaining chip in a manipulative game of winners and losers. Or, something that we spread around lavishly… but only in our pre-selected “spiritual” circles.

Once we elevate the concept, once we free “love” from the barriers and conceptual
restrictions we place on it, we can begin to see what Jesus meant when he said, “Love your enemies”.




All photos by Sharif Abdullah, unless otherwise noted.


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One Response to Monday, 2 May 2011

  1. Holly Wells says:

    A lovely broadening and deepening of a concept we’ve known. Particularly appropriate area for spiritual growth (especially as a society): when “othering” leads to celebration in response to a death.

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