This has been a consistently popular piece since I first wrote it, over 10 years ago. Unbelievably, I hadn’t posted it on this site before!
One of the greatest sayings I ever encountered and which changed my life the most at the time was that ‘True freedom is liking what you do, not doing what you like’. As a number one unruly individual who hated authority and conformity, it was a completely new way of looking at the balance between independence and involvement in life.
Peter Caddy, one of the founders of the Findhorn community in northern Scotland, was fond of quoting his Rosicrucian teacher Dr. Sullivan: ‘Learn to love the place you are in, the people you are with and the work you have to do.’ The point is of course to find something you can love about the place you are in, the people you are with and the work you are doing. Just forget the negatives and smile. This seems to me to encompass much the same philosophy.
But we can go further than that and say that everything in life becomes wonderful, worthwhile, pleasurable and meaningful if we put love into it. If you find that you cannot flow love into what you are doing, then it isn’t worth being involved with. If your task isn’t something you love doing, then it isn’t spiritually valuable to you.
The computer people have the term GI-GO. It stands for ‘garbage in- garbage out’. In other words, what you get out is only a reflection of what you put in. Life is exactly the same as a computer in this respect. If you can pour love into whatever you have your attention on, it comes back to you. By that I don’t just mean the old idea of someone will love you or the boss will give you a raise, though that’s possible and a valid part of the formula. But what is overlooked – and it spoils the beauty of this bit of wisdom – is that: you get it back inside yourself. Something lifts and glows inside that gives one a tremendous feeling of lightness, joy and involvement that simply never comes if you’re in a grumbling just-a-job mood.
What then of the mundane tasks, like washing up and shopping for groceries? Well, they have to be done. So why not put love into these too. You have a perfect opportunity to develop spiritually, so these moments can become a sort of exercise in personal growth. Instead of wasting precious moments of your life complaining and trying to avoid needful assignments, why not cultivate the skill of putting love into these too?
Of course it does help to know that your life is focussed. If you are drifting from day to day, with no true purpose, then you cannot see the web-like inter-relationships between each simple task of the moment and your big life picture. If you haven’t got a bigger picture, nothing makes sense any way.
So experiencing boredom, laziness and lack of involvement is a very good pointer to the fact that you need to shape up your life and make something of it; work out some meaningful goals and start to work towards them.
The reverse of this is equally true: when you know what you want to do and are working for it, every act becomes a statement of commitment, achievement, satisfaction and SUCCESS! Every small task becomes delightful as well as necessary, because it is taking you to where you want to be.
One of the great times to evince love is while you are preparing food. There is a saying that the food tastes better if the chef puts some love into it. Well, you can test this out for yourself and you will find it is true! More than that: mealtimes are those moments of the day when there is time to take a little pause and feel relaxed, gentle and human. You can share it with friends where possible. If you all involve yourselves in the meal preparation, that’s even better: someone to cook, someone to prepare food, someone to lay the table, put out candles, crockery etc, with LOVE. It all adds a great deal to the pleasure of eating.
If all this is new to you, try one or two simple alterations in your style while cooking. Put on music and dance while you peel vegetables; or swirl round once, like a dancer, as you move from place to place in the kitchen; or just make one or two graceful gestures with your hands as you fling in the condiments!
If you are tired, inactive, lacking involvement or feeling resentful about what you are doing, stop and look for love. It is vital for the peace of your soul and the good of your heart and mind that you find it. Sourness and hating what you do is the very opposite of life’s true principle of happiness. It will lead to trouble in the long run, and it can be BIG trouble – such as heart disease, cancer and an early death. I’m speaking now as a doctor.
If you can’t find love in what you do and who you are doing it with, then it is time for a change. In the meantime, find something that you love; something to make you get up and do it before work; something to rush home for at night, so that you can get started with it. A really good hobby might fulfil this requirement.
Creating Loving Relationships
And of course, in a relationship, if it isn’t meeting all your needs for love, it’s time you acted. Love between two people is something to be tended and nurtured, like a flower. It is a complete and deadly folly that love which is vivid and exciting will last for ever. It will hardly last a month, if you don’t go on creating it. Love running on auto-pilot isn’t love at all: a loving relationship needs to be created on a constant basis.
This doesn’t mean you need to keep re-inventing it all the time. It does mean you need to output the love, make a sign, an act, a gesture, a word, SOMETHING which generates that magic. If you don’t, then we have that unfortunate state that we label ‘taking things for granted’.
Many relationships end this way. Sometimes one can sympathize- pressure of work, lack of time, anxieties about money or some other difficulty may mean that the expressions of love are forgotten or almost obscured by the bigger problem that demands attention. The fact remains that if love is not created constantly, it will begin to wither and die.
Love That Problem!
Again, to reverse the view, if one flows love at a problem, it will tend to vanish. Each individual must support the other and be part of the solution, not part of the problem. There is nothing more powerful about a loving relationship than the way that the two together can conquer seemingly insurmountable difficulties. It is a version of Buckminster Fuller’s SYNERGY; two people acting in one accord are much MUCH more powerful than just the sum of the two separate energies.
There is scientific truth to the saying, ‘Love conquers all’.
Love is like life, it could be the same as the life energy itself. As beings, our spirit nature is love. You will never see a spiritual person who doesn’t emanate considerable love and tolerance. So to love what we are doing and who we are with is simply to give life and expression to our deeper nature. By the same terms, to not feel love or have an expression of it is to shrivel and die as persons. We are depriving our inner being.
I can sum all this up in fewer words than either of the key quotes above by saying: being really truly alive is loving everything that you experience.
The doctor in me is prescribing you love; lots and lots of it. Have an abundance of this blessed feeling in your lives, so that you know the true happiness that love can bring.