There is nothing more human than love.
Letting go of our “self”.
Who are you? Are you your age, your place of birth, your favourite movie, your choice of meal, your music, the spouse to another, the child of someone, are you the clothes you choose, the tattoo on your forearm, the company you started?
The truth is, you are none of these things.
Some of these things we can’t control (our height). Others we choose and create (our record collection). In the end, these features are merely distractions from our true nature. Creating a sense of self or identity by determining which foods we like and which music we hate is just building layer upon layer over the true essence of our self. Our limited understanding of the world leads us to believe that these things we hold on to are very important; but they really aren’t.
Our expansive true nature.
Our true nature is an expansive emptiness.
When we hear this it may not sound positive. Emptiness? We may think of a lonely abysmal place that is missing something. This empty space is usually so cluttered we don’t even realize it’s there. It’s filled with distracting thoughts, an accumulation of traumas, belief systems, fears, desires, and the identity we cling to.
If we clear away all of this clutter, we leave room for an open space of loving-kindness, empathy, compassion, and unconditional joy. We don’t need to replace all of our stuff with these emotions; it’s already there. Our true nature of pure love is simply being blocked by all of the layers of clutter we have put in front of it.
Clearing away the clutter.
Holding onto our spiritual and mental clutter is a lot like hoarders filling their apartment until it’s unlivable. Why does the hoarder hold on to that ten-year-old tennis racket they have never picked up? Because they think they may need it eventually. We hold tightly to our belief systems in a similar fashion. When the world appears to be a scary place, we feel better when we have expectations for ourselves and the people around us.
Creating belief systems or expectations allow us to create judgments. We judge ourselves and imagine our capabilities or desires based on this limited idea of who we are. We judge ourselves poorly if we fail to conform to this.
A woman could identify as being a gorgeous model. Her world view would revolve around the idea that her worth is tied to her beauty. Suddenly her physical deterioration in the aging process would have her losing her main identifier and her self-esteem. A man may identify as a professional athlete. He believes that who he is is tied to the sport he plays, the points he scores, and the praise he receives. He suffers a career-ending injury and falls into a deep suicidal depression, feeling as if his identity itself has been stripped away from him.
These two fictional characters have manifested in many people’s realities. This is because we hold on to our clutter so closely, we start to believe it’s all we are.
Differentiating and judging others.
We make the same judgments about other people in an attempt to try to protect ourselves. We see a business man in an impressive suit, driving a flashy car and we make assumptions about his intelligence and his high achievements or capabilities. He’s better than us. We see a man in a tattered shirt, holes in his worn out shoes, sitting on the curb covered in dirt begging for money and we assume that he is there as a result of his misfortunes, drug addiction, or incompetence. We are better than him.
We position ourselves as different from others. Worse or better. This is why judgments breed dangerous hierarchies that stop people from seeing one another as human beings, and start ignorance, hate, and fear of “the other”. We don’t like uncertainty, so instead we try to judge everything and make assumptions about exactly how things will work out.
Learning from death.
Our greatest teacher is death. Whether someone drove a Bentley or walked barefoot down the road, whether someone was a politician or a rebel, a woman or a man, no one is immune to death.
As morbid as it may be, when we strip away the material things, the titles, status, and physical appearance, we are all just walking skeletons. If only we could live with this same sense of equality and humanity throughout our everyday lives.
Falling back into love.
Clearing away the clutter that inhabits our minds leaves room for our true nature to shine through. Like light breaking through a frosted window, we learn that the energy that rests behind our fear is unconditional and infinite love. Sometimes we feel this powerful love rush through us. There are times that even the most severe pain can’t block it. A perfect example is a mother birthing a child and holding the baby in her arms for the first time. This powerful, expansive, and unconditional love is always there, waiting to be released.
Imagine walking down the street and passing by crowds of people. Think about how this experience would be if you took away the judgement, the material things, the assumptions, the annoyances, and the uncertainties. Imagine you saw these people as your brothers and sisters: your fellow humans. Imagine they were just as excited and thrilled to see you.
In times of crisis we often see this nature emerge. In life or death situations, people stop thinking about the surface level clutter and help one another out of pure compassion and love. It shouldn’t take a crisis to recognize that every human around us has worth and is worthy of our love. I believe we should “fall back into love” because love is where we started and the most we can do is temporarily step away, as it constantly draws us back in.
Next time you are in a public place and a stranger irritates you think about things a little differently. Say someone is walking aggravatingly slow in front of you, someone cuts you off in traffic, or someone is swearing at a cashier in front of you. Instead of positioning yourself as different from them, imagine that you are the same. Imagine that they are someone close to you that you care about. Imagine that they have just experienced one of the hardest days of their life. Imagine embracing them and loving them. Then let go of your anger and replace it with love.