When Valentine’s Day comes around it can prompt us to pause. Even though it has become a commercial holiday that unashamedly sells millions of cards, flowers and expensive dinners, there is value in reflecting on the love in our lives. And most of us - even if just for a moment - stop and reflect on who we love, who has loved us and who loves us now. We may also choose to venture into pondering Universal Love, the unconditional Love of Spirit that is under all of Creation. “God is Love,” penned the author of 1 John. The Beatles said it another way: “Love is all you need."
But sometimes we don’t feel the love, do we? Sometimes we feel lonely, abandoned, neglected, abused, betrayed or hurt. That can be universal too, a part of the human condition. Or more broadly, it is part of the sentient condition since all beings with sentience have the capacity to suffer and feel pain.
We human beings are uniquely gifted with the ability to change our world. We can raise (or lower) the consciousness of the planet simply by the choices we make, the thoughts we hold, the amount of kindness and love we are willing to give. We are that powerful.
We all want a better world. We all want Love. We all want to experience Kindness, Understanding and Compassion. We all want to feel connected. In spite of our different ideas and solutions to the world’s challenges, and in spite of what appears to be a divisive political and social climate, these are universal Truths.
The first thing we need to get through our hearts and heads is, in reality, we simply cannot control anyone ‘out there.’ We can make our desires known. We can complain. We can make requests or even protest. But we can’t make any ‘thems’ or ‘theys’ do or be what we want them to do or be. When we try to, we are looking for ways to make our world better in the completely wrong places. The world will change when our hearts change. So we simply must turn within. We simply must love more. Especially if we want more love in our lives.
It’s simple. A simple Love.
Be Love. Give Love. Accept Love. Expand as Love.
I invite you to ponder these questions:
Most of us can grasp the idealization of loving others when it comes to people who are like us. (“Love your neighbor.”) Some of us expand our love to include people who are marginalized by others, but we withhold our love from those we see as marginalizers. Some of us are remarkably able to move beyond that and grasp the idea that we must include every person in our circle of compassion, even those we dislike or who act against us. (“Love your enemy.”) But as we grow in consciousness and widen our circle of compassion to include more and more, we almost always stay within the confines of the human family.
Why do we stop there?
Why do we draw a boundary between us and the other sentient beings with whom we share the planet? Like us, they also can feel lonely, abandoned, neglected, abused, betrayed or hurt. Why do we choose to use their bodies for our food and clothing and be the cause of their constant suffering, when we no longer need to do so for our health or survival? They have done nothing to harm us. They only yearn for our care and protection.
Can we stretch ourselves and love them too?
The Buddha said, “Radiate boundless love toward the entire world!”
Just exclaiming that makes me feel lighter. Joyous. Bouyant. Try it.
The truth is, we are radiant beings capable of radiating boundless love. It is the limited ego that draws lines between ‘us’ and ‘them’ and gives us permission to inflict harm on 'them.' But there are no lines with real Love. Real Love is truly without bounds. Again, our work is to turn within and simply love more.
Be Love. Give Love. Accept Love. Expand as Love. Love yourself. Love your neighbor. Love your enemy. Love all beings. Do this and you will find that your personal world will blossom as Love and an abundance of Love will come back to you. And the world will become a better place.
During this Valentine’s Day week, I celebrate along with musician, songwriter and activist Moby, the love for all animals and our inner desire to protect and care for them. Watch and enjoy his new video “A Simple Love” featuring some amazing Love beings and footage from Farm Sanctuary, an animal rescue, education and advocacy organization that I fervently support.
"Just give me kindness. Just give me hope. A simple Love." Moby
© carol saunders 2017
Rev. Carol Saunders
I am an ordained minister, speaker, writer and lover of all life. In 2010 I founded a spiritual community in Deerfield, IL, a suburb of Chicago, and have recently transitioned it to a weekly interactive gathering and podcast called The Spiritual Forum. Being a voice for the animals and a light for the spiritually-inclined who are willing to seriously examine the self and begin to awaken, are what Spirit has called me to be. I am here to support anyone who wants to move toward living in closer alignment with their deeply held spiritual values. Our world needs more Love, Peace and Kindness. We can make that happen. But we won't be able to until we transform some of the violent and unkind ways of living we inherited from our culture. Be Love. Be Peace. Be Kind. Today.