Monday, March 21, 2011

A Season for Nonviolence Reflections - Week 8

"Compassion and love are not mere luxuries. They constitute nonviolence in action." - Dalai Lama

For many people love is thought of as a strong emotion that compels us into action. There is this idea that love is something we "fall into" in relationships or that it is something that is triggered by something someone does.

How many times do we hear people say that they have "fallen in love?"

In the book The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm he writes that love is an art. That it is something that we do and we can perfect. The imagery that I get is that we can become masters at loving and that we can perfect this art of loving.

Fromm writes, "Love is an activity, not a passive affect; it is a "standing in," not a "falling for." In the most general way, the active character of love can be described by stating that love is primarily giving, not receiving."

Love in action, the activity, leads to compassionate living.

All people have a part of the divine in them. When we love others we love God because we love the divine in others. We see the beauty in others. This awareness can help us to choose to give and/or stand in the tough moments with others. We may choose to suffer with them in trials and we demonstrate that love endures. Love and compassion for others are actions driven by conscious choices to give to others. Our values and life commitments may influence these choices and actions as well.

Even when others treat us poorly we can still respond by respecting them. We may choose to not associate with them but we understand that they have drifted away from their calling to love and to live out the divine purpose in their life. This can help us not lose ourselves in mirroring them or saying or doing things that we regret or are not in alignment with our core values.

When love is merely an emotional response to something it can easily fade away in the storms of life. This kind of love does not have our back and cannot be counted on. When we no longer feel something we walk away.

But a love that comes from choice and practice can be trusted. It is a "soul force" as Martin Luther King Jr. used to refer to it. It cultivates healthy relationships and peace in the world. 

This week think of ways that you can love others and let this motivate you to do something specific for someone. Think of how you can incorporate the practice giving to others and become a master of loving others. Is there something you can do to increase the likelihood of practicing giving more often? 

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