When does the practice of Svadhyaya, self-inquiry, become obsession and self-destructive? It's interesting to me that even the spiritual practices can become a hindrance. These practices we engage as a means to bring us closer to the Divine can become tools for the ego to take us further away from God.
I came across the picture above on the 100 days of Beauty facebook page. The page was started as a way to share my sadhana to Venus with others and to hold myself accountable.I had committed to looking for beauty everyday for 100 days. With the help of my friends, the posts on the page have inspired me and filled my life with so much beauty. When I struggle to see beauty in the chaos of my own life it helps me to see the beauty others have found.
This picture, struck a nerve though. I have been contemplating love a great deal lately. I've used this idea of self-inquiry to examine my relationship with love. But self-inquiry has turned into self-destruction. I have been picking myself apart for not being able to love good enough and not being lovable enough. It's the same song and dance. I'm not enough. If only I had not said this. If only I had done that. If only I was more like this or less like that then I'd be lovable.
This self-destruction disguised as self-inquiry has even gone so far as to point out how stupid I am for loving people when they don't love me back. How stupid can I be to continue to feel love for someone who clearly doesn't feel the same about me?
Then today, I came across this picture. I'm reading a book by St. Teresa of Avila so when I was scrolling through the posts this one jumped out at me. Love cannot be bought. It can't be stolen, it cannot be cajoled, it cannot be seduced. Only genuine love begets love.
How do we know if it's genuine love we are feeling or we're trying to seduce or cajole? How do we know if it's genuine love or co-dependency? If my love doesn't beget love does that mean its not genuine?
If I love you six units and you don't return six units and I don't withdraw my six units does that make me stupid or does that mean it's genuine love? How do we know if it's genuine love or simply an inability to let go? I tend to get attached to people. When they inevitably disappear from my life I suffer. My head says that I should withdraw my "six units of love". My heart doesn't agree.
My teacher says, the heart is the gateway between our humanity and our Divinity. Seems to me that it's also the gateway to mass confusion for some of us.
How can we tell if it's genuine love we feel or unhealthy attachment?
St. Teresa says that if we don't learn to love we will suffer. My experience has been that even if we do love we may still suffer. Or... Does the fact that it's causing suffering mean it's not genuine?
Maybe I am stupid. Maybe I am too attached to people. Maybe it is unhealthy to be attached to people who don't, for whatever reason, offer the same six units of love back to me.
I'll follow my heart instead of my ego and error on the side of love. I will follow the example of the Saints and Sages and continue to offer my heart. As long as my motivation for love is genuine and unconditional whether or not it's returned or received the way I intend is none of my business.
Love begets love.... But even if it doesn't, love anyway.
Being able to love even after your heart has been broken into a million pieces is a beautiful thing. Having the tools to recognize that the same song and dance of the ego no longer serve me is a beautiful thing.
We are made in the image of God. How can we ever be "not good enough"?