Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Calling for Love

We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Several people have asked me recently how I cope with all the sh*t going on in the world. They want to know how I find compassion for all the people saying and doing things that, at least to some, seem, hmm, how to say this? That seem incomprehensibly terrible.

The short answer is that I do better at some times than at other times.

Many studies show that our well-being is directly related to the connection we have with others. And we are only connected to others when our hearts are open. Great concept, but hard to put into practice. How often do I separate myself from someone by closing my heart with anger, judgment, criticism, fear, outrage, resentment, seeing someone else as “other”? Let’s face it, there are plenty of folks out there I really don’t want to be connected to.

So how do I maintain an open heart?

A Course in Miracles teaches that love has no opposite. Love is all there is. (Wasn’t that the title of a Beatles song? No, that was “Love is all you need.” Also true.) When something happens that blocks our awareness of love’s infinite and eternal presence, we experience that separation as fear. When we feel afraid, we reflect our sense of separation from others through negative thoughts, words, and behavior. In reality, what we are doing is seeking reconnection. We are calling for love.

Everything we do or say or think is either an expression of love (when we experience connection) or a call for love (when we mistakenly believe we are separated). Everything is one or the other. Everything. It’s that simple.

When I can remember this, I find that it is much easier to keep my heart open. When I look out at the world of suffering, manifested in so many ways, I feel sadness, tenderness, compassion for all the pain. The pain of people striking out in anger, the pain of the hungry and oppressed, the pain of violence and cruelty, the pain of desperation, the pain of addiction, the pain of power grabbing, the pain of divisiveness, the pain of all the ways that we separate ourselves from each other, from all of nature, from our planet.

Does this mean I want to go hug a terrorist (consider what we mean by that term)? Do I shrug at discrimination and persecution? Do I ignore the devastation we cause to our earth home? Do I turn away from the horrors of war? Do I pretend that everything is always pleasant?

No, of course not. But we can stand for justice while recognizing with compassion our common humanity. We can sense the pain and fear underneath acts of unspeakable cruelty as we reach out to protect and comfort the injured. Why can we do this? Because we understand deep down that peace will not flow from a heart closed to those we deem “other.” And when our own hearts do close in pain and fear, we can extend our embrace of compassion to include ourselves.

We can practice in little ways so that we can cope with the big stuff. Next time someone is unkind to me, instead of reacting defensively, I can take a deep breath and think, “Dude, you are seriously calling for love.” Someone cuts me off in traffic? “Hey, I see you are needing some love over there.” I know that sounds trivial in the context of world events. Big hurts, little affronts, it’s all the same. If it isn’t an expression of love, it’s a call for love.

Everything, without exception, is either an expression of love or a call for love. This reframing is how I cope. I am not here to judge. I am here to love. Characterizing harmful thoughts, words, or behavior as a call for love helps me avoid reacting in kind. If I can reinterpret a perceived attack, from myself or someone else, as a call for love, then my heart stays soft and open, even as I take appropriate steps in response. Compassion flows naturally to others and to ourselves from an open heart. We stay connected and our lives become expressions of love.

Underneath the hardness there is fear
Underneath the fear there is sadness
Underneath the sadness there is softness
In the softness is the vast blue sky
~Rick Fields

6 thoughts on “Calling for Love”

  1. I love this. Kind of a training wheels for me can be an admittedly patronizing, “Oh bless his heart.” I’m still definitely judging his understanding to be less than mine, but I can eventually sort of transition to actual compassion and think of places where I too embody the ignorance/greed/etc.

    1. Loved what you said, Jessica, about transitioning to actual compassion. Sounds like you have thrown off the training wheels! I too find that I can almost always (okay make that always) find in myself the same thing I am judging someone else for. Thanks for commenting.

  2. So beautifully said. It also helps me a bit to remember that we live in a world of duality, the very nature of which is that every force has an opposite counterforce. By opening the heart we transcend the duality of our physical world and enter into the nondual truth of sacred love which has no opposite – the truth you mentioned from A Course in Miracles. It’s from that open heart we need to live if we are to endure and lighten the world’s ever increasing heaviness. I love Ghandi’s words … “BE the change you want to see in the world.”

    1. And your comment is beautifully said, Dianne. I read it several times to let it soak in. As the saying goes, what we resist persists. We learn in martial arts, in A Course in Miracles, and in life, that pushing back against force with force is not the way to harmony.

      And yes, I love that quote also. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Hi Galen. Thank you. What a wonderful way to process our/my judgements about what is happening in the world and with certain people. When I think of them in a negative way and then can switch to the understanding that they are just crying out for love it takes me back to the place and space I want to hold. And as you say, it doesn’t mean that we just go passive on the things that need changing or action in our world, only that we don’t let anger or even despair run our emotions or intentions. Thanks again for this helpful idea. ~Kathy

    1. It is indeed helpful when I can remember to apply it, Kathy — ha! That is the practice, isn’t it? Remembering what we know. Oh, right, I could choose to see this differently. I could choose peace. The world offers us countless opportunities to practice every day. Thanks for commenting.

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