Saturday, April 30, 2005

vs. servant as doormat

So I consider a life cultivating a habit of love toward all to be a supremely practical endeavor. What place in there for the emotional component of love in such a life? The path of self mastery and service leaves plenty of room for the emotion of love. In the first place, feelings of love are powerful movements within a person which often take you by surprise. A significant friend, a spouse or lover, a parent or child, a wonderful sight, beautiful music, a special fragrance, a comforting touch--any of these and more can readily generate feelings of love within you. Devotional practices, such as prayer, meditation and singing, can also generate feelings of love in the heart of the practioner. By all means, welcome these feelings of love. The more the merrier! Seek them and experience them! They are refreshments in the sometimes arduous practice of self mastery. Extending your love to another is another important means of generating feelings of love. If you want to feel love, love! It works! You who would master yourself do not wait about for someone to love you. You dare to love first, knowing that by dropping buckets of love overboard into that universal pond in which you row, waves of love are certain to make their way back to you, from sources distant and unknown. This fact is simply built in to the structure of the universe. It works! You who choose to master yourself therefore must love without demand that it be reciprocated. Such a demand is alien to love. Give your love freely, there is no need to know the manner of its fulfillment. Prior expectations and demands of reciprocation are nearly guaranteed to breed disappointment. Since when did anyone say it was your role to demand or know how any of your intentions, even those in perfect alignment with the divine will pleasure, will be executed and balanced by the source of all and the universal laws? Studying universal law you know to allow, and you know that conditional loving is oxymoronic.

Now some folks might at this point start rolling themselves out as a doormat on the erroneous belief that "loving everyone unconditionally" is a legitimate license to spend yourself willy nilly in the cause of service. Well, it just ain't so. You are to love your neighbor as you love yourself and while you love yourself. Service sometimes comes at the expense of self, but never at the expense of self love, or at the expense of love of the source of all. When you play the doormat, and invite others to walk all over you, and then wonder at the resentment that's growing in your heart, and compound it by trying to hide your resentment from yourself, you reap what you have sown. Service which is offered at the expense of self love, service which is rendered in a manner that generates resentment, is not offered freely, but out of a sense of obligation. When service is rendered from obligation, it may seem as if coerced, and not a free will choice, and as such a function of tyranny or dilemma. Under such a set of perceptions, the servant as doormat is in fact not operating under the terms of self mastery, but under the terms of the victim consciousness. When you serve because you have to, or because you should, you play the doormat, you play the victim, and your heart fills not with love but with the clutter of resentment. You feel burdened by the "cross" rather than freed: you carry the cross of the martyr.

On the contrary, the master of self carries a cross which is easy and light. That's because the path of mastery is a path for the free will, not the chained will of the victim. Even duty can be chosen! When it is chosen, it is rendered a responsible exercise of free will. Love of self does not mean always placing yourself first. Service sometimes allows placing yourself first, but sometimes middle or last as well. Given that the first shall be last and the last shall be first, it is the willing choice to place yourself in the path of service at all that ultimately matters. If you find yourself playing the doormat, and resenting your service, place the situation squarely in the crosshairs of introspection. Find your choice in the matter, and if it is a choice which amounts not to self love, but self betrayal, then your service is not service from the heart, and must be re-evaluated. Either your manner of choosing and disposition relative to the situation must change, or the pattern of relationship in this harmful service must be abandoned for another course of action.

So do not sweat it if you find yourself playing the doormat now and then. Consider it an old habit which you are transforming through a new practice, and act according to the new whenever you recognize the behavior and see the opportunity coming. The experience of loving unconditionally, without expectation of return, can serve as the litmus test of your giving.


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