Sunday, November 1, 2015

Learning to love

We elevate everything we do when it is inspired by love. C. G. Jung said: "Therefore, never ask what a man does, but how he does it. If he does it from love or in the spirit of love, then he serves a god; and whatever he may do is not ours to judge, for it is ennobled." But this may be insufficient, as the way that love is felt and expressed differs between people. "Love is never any better than the lover," said Toni Morrison. "Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly."

So we must educate ourselves on how to love. Isak Dinesen wrote:

"It is obvious to everyone who is in any way concerned about the development and future of humanity and who cherishes the hope that in this respect too it may be able to achieve more beauty, harmony and happiness, that in everything concerning love there is a need for far more clarity, honesty, idealism, than the world has hitherto wished to apply to the subject, and that in our century we are embarking upon a conscious program of education in all matters relating to love, which have been completely neglected."

We must educate ourselves even on how to speak about love. Diane Ackerman: "Love is the most important thing in our lives, a passion for which we would fight or die, and yet we’re reluctant to linger over its names. Without a supple vocabulary, we can’t even talk or think about it directly." Certainly not all of it is romantic or sexual. Donald Miller: "I think being in love is an opposite of loneliness, but not the opposite. There are other things I now crave when I am lonely, like community, like friendship, like family. I think our society puts too much pressure on romantic love, and that is why so many romances fail. Romance can't possibly carry all that we want it to."

And yet, we cannot force love to come. It comes on its own. Krishnamurti:

"The mind can pursue sensations, desires, but it cannot pursue love. Love must come to the mind. And, when once love is there, it has no division as sensuous and divine: it is love. That is the extraordinary thing about love: it is the only quality that brings a total comprehension of the whole of existence."


C. G. Jung. Aspects of the Masculine. (Collected Works.) Translation by R. F. C. Hull. New York: MJF Books, 1989. p. 59.

Toni Morrison, quoted in, quoted in The Week, May 18, 2012, p. 19.

Isak Dinesen [Karen Blixen]. On Modern Marriage and Other Observations (1924). Translated by Anne Born. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1986. p. 56.

Donald Miller. Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality. Nashville, Tenn.: Nelson Books, 2003. pp. 151-152.

Diane Ackerman, quoted in Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Center City, Minn.: Hazelden Publishing, 2010.

J. Krishnamurti. Think on These Things. ed. by D. Rajagopal. New York: Perennial, 1964. pp. 76-77.

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