love

Who is our neighbour?

Back from a magnificent holiday in Switzerland – what a beautiful country! – and Italy I am inspired to talk with you about love. I did that many times before, since it is an inexhaustible subject, but recently I discovered some new aspects. Let’s start with the Bible book Leviticus 19:18: Love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.

This phrase has led to endless feelings of guilt, because what if you don’t feel this love, or doesn’t know how to develop this? Then one fails, exactly in the domain that seems to be the most important in life.

One of the problems is that this quote is probably wrongly translated. Meant is: Love your neighbor, who is like you. That sounds certainly more logical and true. Because in the more current translation your self love, that can be very limited, is the criterion for the love you can give, whereas clearly is referred to a higher standard: the love for and from the the Architect of the Universe: I am the Lord. To that love we are always capable, no matter of our own state of being, and no matter if we are believers of atheists.

But who is our neighbor? That surely is not everyone and anyone. To love that whole would be an abstraction, a cerebral concept, and that is not love. The neighbor is the one who enters our life. He/she has to give us something, or may need something from us. But anyway we have to deal with him or her. Only in that situation we can practice love, either by receiving or giving, or both. One can start with practicing open mindedness, mindfulness, and random acts of kindness. From there contact is possible. When, in contact, one succeeds in open listening and open speaking (without judging the other or wanting to influence him/her, or defending yourself) love will come into bloom. Sounds simple, is it not? It IS simple, but that is not to say that it is easy. But it is reachable for anyone who is determined to love one’s neighbor.

Of course we don’t love our neighbor immediately after meeting him/her, or continuously. As Carl Jung wrote in a letter to Mrs. A. Schim van de Loeff: “The general idea of christian love for one’s neighbour is a pretense. In that way one can interact with everyone in a nice and detached way, because you are loving everyone after all. I possess no christian love, so why should I pretend to love you? I take you seriously, and that, in all honesty, is the only thing I can do.”

 

Disclaimer: I apologize for mistakes in my English. Blogs are cursory – not stuff for correction by a native speaker

 

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The roads to beauty.

In this world we need the awareness of beauty. It is everywhere, as Confucius said, but in order to experience it we have to be receptive for it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/beauty-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder.html). So it is a relationship, like Love and Quality (See Robert Pirsich: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance). Said differently: Beauty is not a quality of some object, but an inner state.In Dutch Freemasonry the road to Beauty goes through Wisdom and Power (strength). So one way to reach Beauty is to develop ones own wisdom and personal power. Than can be done through self investigation, because wisdom and power is always present in us. Sometimes however it is blocked or underdeveloped. We have to find out what is setting our power and wisdom back, so that we can deal with our setbacks.

Because Beauty is an inner state it is an interesting question if there can be Beauty without an object. I think this is possible. Imagine for example you are in Nature, in a place where is absolute silence. Then it may happen that this silence overwhelms your mind. There is nothing left, no observer, no thinker, even no nature anymore. Then the mind is in a state of complete being alone. That silence is Beauty. It can also be reached in other moments, for instance after total surrender in making love, in deep meditation, while getting lost in a beautiful picture or very moving music. In the end then the object vanishes, like Nature in the first example. Nothing is left. *)

Having said that, the above examples show that external reality (Nature, paintings, a partner, music) can help to reach that state. Focussing with full attention on these external object is a second road to beauty, besides the road of self discovery I mentioned above.

One thing that triggers the experience of Beauty in me is when I am witnessing craftsmanship: a combination of excellent skill sand personal involvement. I can experience that with a musician, choir or orchestra, or with actors, with a carpenter or any profession.

Beauty as far as I am concerned is manifested love, as Plato already saw. Actually, it is the easiest way to reach Love. So let’s go for it: I need it, you need it, we all need it. It will make the world a better place.

 

*) Example inspired by J. Krishnamurti, Freedom of the known.

Disclaimer: I apologize for mistakes in my English. Blogs are cursory – not stuff for correction by a native speaker.

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Love as the fourth product factor.

In one of the Dutch papers (Trouw, October 31) an interesting article was published by two leading Dutch economists, Lans Bovenberg and Jan Peter van den Toorn. They rightfully concluded that the debate about the best economic policy to get out of the crisis actually is worse for the recovery of the economy than just following a course. Economists, politicians and representatives of certain interest groups get trapped in a trench war that completely paralyses all parties. No essential dialog is happening, and no structural meaurements are taken. That is true not just in the political realm, but also for the financial world. No essential change since 2008 has happened. The new crisis is waiting just around the corner. This time it shall be worse, because the governments are broke.

In their article they are giving interesting examples  of how focussing on your own limited interest in fact damages your situation. For my Dutch readers I’d say: read the article!

According to these economists the cause of this impasse is that virtually nog one wants to transcend his own (group) interests. There is no attention for the common interest. So far so good – what’s new, one could say. But then in their article they make an interesting turn. The old qualities of hope, faith and love are the only sources that could help us out. Love is the only way, as they say, to make a real contact with the other side and see his interests. From there the common interests can be found. Love is as important a product factor as capital, labour, land and natural resources. They are pleading for a new economic science that takes this fourth resource into account.

Now, pay attention, this is not coming from some soft, vague,  good willing idealists, but from some hardcore economists, who are giving very concrete examples in their article, with facts and figures. An interesting development! The question remains of course: how to release this love in the people concerned (and in us) in this time of uncertainty and fear? Already Jesus said: Love thy neighbour and your enemy. But what if we cannot find this love in ourselves? Should we feel guilty? Of course not. Longing for this love and talking about it is at least a beginning

By the way: this idea of listening, seeing each other and finding the common interest is not new of course. We know it from the field of conflict mediation. And we know how difficult this is to practise. We also know however that there are  examples of positive results, that everyone can see for him or herself. Economy could learn from that. And the real revolutionary thought as far as I am concerned is the idea of love as the fourth product factor in economic theory. If we really start to consider that idea it will mean a revolution, not just in economy, but in ecology and organizational theory as well.

(I apologize for mistakes in my English. Blogs are cursory – not stuff for correction by a native speaker)

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