Recently the news is filled with intolerance, pain, and strife. How do we live as universal beacons of love and peace? How do we practice charity? How do we universally respect all beings?
We cannot fully love and honor each other as long as we view ourselves as fundamentally different. Christ admonished, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In order to love your neighbor as yourself, you must first love yourself. This seems obvious, but like most obvious things is typically overlooked.
What does it mean to love yourself? It does not mean to love our body, thoughts, beliefs. It means to love what we truly are. To love ourself, we must know our Self. A first step is to know our Divine Essence. This is the focus of self-inquiry. We start at, “Who or what am I?” This question is aimed at an experiential answer. We go to our heart not our mind for the answer.
Ask, “Without referring to my body, my thoughts, my beliefs, or my roles in life, what am I?”
Allow your heart to directly experience the still Awareness prior to thoughts. This is our Divine Essence, our Original Mind. This still Awareness sees the thoughts, emotions, etc., but is not bound by them.
The Indian saint Nisargadatta referred to this in his statement, “When I look inside and see that I am nothing, that is wisdom.” This Awareness we discover as our essence is the source of Love.
This recognition we are fundamentally Awareness addresses the second half of Christ’s guidance. The full realization of Truth, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” still requires another recognition. When we discover we have always been boundless Awareness, there is still a sense of duality between what we have recognized as our Divine Essence and everything else.
Next, we are encouraged to ask the question, “If I am boundless Awareness, what is everything else?” Asking this question as our Divine Essence brings the direct realization beautifully expressed by Nisargadatta, “When I look outside and see that I am everything, that is love.”
This is the recognition of unity. Once we recognize the truth that we and our neighbors are the same Divine Essence, life spontaneously expresses as Christ guides us. We love our neighbor as our Self because we see our neighbor fundamentally as our Self.
This is how we become beacons of universal love and peace, universally respect all beings, and practice true charity. حب