By: Woodrow Odom Lucas
Matthew 22:36-40 (KJV)
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Jesus’ earthly ministry was profound in many ways; the miracles he performed, his teachings in the Beatitudes, his teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, his love for the people he encountered, and so on and so forth. But it is my belief that nothing he offered or that anyone else has offered compares to the genius of his mandate for us to essentially love God, love ourselves, and love others. Jesus’ statement that we should love the Lord our God with all our hearts, our souls, our minds, and our strength and his complementary statement that we should love our neighbor as ourselves, suggests an axiomatic formula of balance and life that is universal and could apply to any religious framework.
Within Jesus’ statement we see a directional compass manifesting itself that instructs us to love upwards toward God, to love inward toward ourselves, to love outward toward others, and I would add a fourth direction to love downwards toward the earth. Ostensibly, God is everywhere so the idea of loving upward is more metaphoric than literal; and in reality in the grand metaphysical scheme of things we are all interconnected so all 4 directions are really the same inertia. But in this earthly realm of matter, maya, and opposites, I believe that most of us need the idea of these axiomatic directions of love to stay balanced and vital.
Paul calls love the greatest of attributes and I wholeheartedly agree with him. Power is corrupting without love. Favor is insincere without love. Abundance is greedy without love. Love makes everything better. Love covers over a multitude of sins. Love helps us to grow. Love comforts those in pain. Love is the answer. Love will always be the answer. Love is the essence of what we come to this mysterious and mercurial planet to learn; and love is truly more powerful than anything in the universe. But I believe that that loving in the three dimensions that Jesus’ decreed and in the fourth dimension that I am adding is much easier said than done.
Many of us, when we begin to see the light of truth and begin to be aroused in our faith, are set aflame with passion to love. But oftentimes, this initial passion to love is imbalanced. Either we are on fire for God, but judgmental of our brothers and sisters. Or we are very considerate of others, but deep down believe that we are inadequate or unworthy. Or we have high self-esteem and confidence, but also operate in selfishness, greed, and manipulation. Or we are loving of God, loving of our family and friends, loving of ourselves, but cruel toward the other creatures of the earth and our ecosystem. I believe that all of the metaphysical attributes possible for us to possess and experience such as balance, stability, sobriety, moderation, soundness of mind, power, confidence, joy, peace, stillness, goodness, meekness, temperance, patience, humility, fearlessness, courage, insight, happiness, circumspection and so on and so forth are all different frequencies of love, meant to help us operationalize love in a balanced and productive way.
In truth, I believe that love can be a source of great chaos in our lives if we become imbalanced in any of the four dimensions in which we can operationalize love on the earth. I believe that a great source of imbalance in love is often the spirit of obsession. We can become obsessed with our children, to the point that we forget to share our resources with others. We can become obsessed with the earth, to the point that we judge those who have not yet made her a priority. We can become obsessed with our own actualization, at the expense of showing compassion to those who may not have been given our privilege. Love out of balance often becomes perverted into some darker manifestation, but love in balance is invincible. I often say to myself that the only solution to too much love is more love!!
A common imbalance that I have observed in myself and others is a sincere concern for others, but a persistent inability to love ourselves. When I say, “love ourselves” I do not mean self-indulgence or narcissism, but I mean the ability to truly care for ourselves, stand up for ourselves when necessary, and give ourselves what we need and desire. I believe that given the self-hatred that often defines de facto religious paradigms, loving ourselves is something that it takes quite a bit of diligent attention to achieve.
I believe that living in the balance of loving God, loving ourselves, loving others, and loving the earth is similar to keeping a raft afloat on a river. Sometimes the corner of the raft that deals with our self-esteem and our self-care needs attention. Other times we need to start connecting more with those around us in loving ways. Other times we need to put more emphasis into seeking the Divine and into exploring the mysteries of unseen dimensions. Other times, we need to commune with mother earth and re anchor ourselves in the earth’s rhythms. But I also believe that there are sublime times in our lives where our raft needs no concerted attention and we are flowing in the gracious ecstasy of loving God, loving ourselves, loving others, and loving the earth in a balanced and healthy way. May that gracious ecstasy abound for us all, always!! Selah!