Holding Hands, Saying "I Love You"
. . . why does this have to be so hard?
We think we know what love is. But what if we don't? What if all we know is fear and we're just projecting its opposite and calling it love? And doing so just reinforces the sleep of forgetfulness?
I know, I know. You know what love is. You've given it, practiced it, received it, extended it. Not perfectly or consistently, but still. You know love.
I can't speak for any one else but if I am honest, most of what I call "love" is connected to the past. Past relationships, past hurts, past joys, past dreams - all of it driven by past learning. "Love," in that case, is just an idea generated by programming and conditioning that is the separation. Only hurt, not healing, can come from it because it is impossible to join with another when we see them only through a lens of yesterdays.
. . . although the past is over, the ego tries to preserve its image by responding as if it were present. It dictates your reactions to those you meet in the present from a past reference point, obscuring the present reality. In effect, if you follow the ego's dictates you will react to your brother as though he were someone else, and this will surely prevent you from recognizing him as he is (T-13.IV.5:3-5).
On this view, most of our relationships - with spouses, lovers, kids, pets, landscapes, meals, whatever - are not actually love. They're hate wearing a benign mask so that we won't ask too many questions.
On this view, our certainty about love is just our ongoing denial of fear, guilt and hate, and the projection that sustains it with our consent.
A Course in Miracles teaches us that separation is synonymous with dissociation (T-6.II.1:4), occurred over millions of years (T-2.VIII.2:5), and that it yields profound spiritual trauma (T-15.I.4:1).
Those who are exposed continually to trauma often suffer intense memory loss and/or distortion of their memories. The classic example is the abused child who loves the abusing parent - protects and defends them, even decades later.
What if you and I are so conditioned by separation and separation-based trauma, that our true memory - including the memory of what we are in truth - is so warped that we literally perceive love as a problem? As a thing to resist or fear? I.e., love knocks and we grab a shotgun.
What if what we believe is love - for our dogs, our sons and daughters, the gift of another day, whatever - is just trauma reenacted, over and over and over?
John Crossan observed that Jesus's vision of healing is so radical most of us perceive it as naive at best and dangerous at worst. We certainly don’t call it love - then or now.
The deliberate conjuntion of magic and meal, miracle and table, free compassion and open commensality, was a challenge launched not just at Judaism's strictest purity regulations, or even at the Mediterranean's patriarchal combination of honor and shame, patronage and clientage, but at civilization's eternal inclination to draw lines, invoke boundaries, establishe hierarchies, and maintain discriminations. It did not invite a political revolution but envisaged a social one at the imagination's most dangerous depths (The Historical Jesus xii).
Two thousand years since that beautiful man was crucified outside Jerusalem and we are still struggling with our tendency to judge others based on our biological and cultural conditioning and pretend those judgments are love.
Here is the fear of God most plainly seen. For love is treacherous to those who fear, since fear and hate can never be apart. No one who hates but is afraid of love, and therefore must he be afraid of God. Certain it is he knows not what love means. He fears to love and loves to hate, and so he thinks that love is fearful; hate is love (T-29.I.2:1-5).
“Fears to love and loves to hate” . . . If phrases could be middle names, that would be mine.
I am scared of God, and rather than face the fear, I project it outward. Hate is specific. It has to be for the projection to work.
There must be a thing to be attacked. An enemy must be perceived in such a form he can be touched and seen and heard, and ultimately killed (W-pI.161.7:2-3).
So, you know, this guy breaks bread on the sabbath with tax collectors and prostitutes, let's crucify him. We all do it, there’s no point in pretending otherwise.
It is hard to hear this but the so-called "loving" relationship is always a fantasy and the fantasy is always a defense against looking at our fear of God. I'd rather kill you (which can take the form of "loving" you) than face the murderous hate inside me.
But the whole point of A Course in Miracles - because it was the whole point of Jesus' brief but holy itineracy so long ago - is that specialness can be transformed into holiness simply by agreeing to do the work of facing our fear together. Having a cup of tea, talking things over, allowing for second thoughts and new beginnings . . .
That is all I am really saying in this post. We need friends to walk with us, which means we need to be friends with whom others choose to walk. We learn to be nonviolent together - there is no other way. It's awkward and we make mistakes but so what. Errors aren't crimes against God or nature; they're sites of learning. Take my hand, tell me you love me and bring it on. There’s nothing we can’t face together.
Our worth is guaranteed by God; our work is to create together a shared space in which we can - collectively - remember this. No more and no less. Truly it is enough.
We are not alone anymore. That is the fruit of our study and practice. That is our function: to say to each other, I will not leave you alone. I am here and together we are going to remember we are Christ. Together we remember we are Christ.
Together we are Christ.