If you can face emptiness despite your fear, you will discover Love. For emptiness is the no-place where mind stops judging and heart starts loving.
A phrase very often used when people are trying to encourage friends or loved ones who are a little down on themselves is the phrase 'love yourself'. Another frequently heard in reference to romantic relationships is the phrase 'you cannot love another unless you love yourself'.
Although attempting to follow this advice may well be a step in the right direction for someone who has very low self-esteem, I would like to suggest that it is not actually possible to 'love yourself', because Love and your 'self' cannot exist at the same time.
"Why not?" I hear you ask with a tone that indicates you consider me a great big bonkers buffoon.
Love is unconditional. This means that Love never judges. It is total acceptance of whatever is. It requires no reason. It never differentiates. 'Self', on the other hand is made up of a collection of ideals, beliefs and desires that we cobble together to form a 'person' and then attach a name to that 'person'. To form a belief, one has to believe certain thoughts true and certain other thoughts not true. This is a form of judgement. To form an ideal, one has to consider certain circumstances to be 'better' than others. This is another form of judgement. To form a desire one has to consider a certain thing 'more desirable' than other things. This is another form of judgement. Love never judges. Love is unconditional, total acceptance of all that is. So it is impossible for Love and 'self' to exist at the same time.
Mystics throughout the ages have written and spoken in various ways about the 'self' dissolving into Love or Oneness.
So what is possible? Is it possible to like oneself? Perhaps to like oneself a lot? Yes it is. But one needs to be careful, because to like oneself, it is necessary to judge and to compare. It is necessary to think about reasons to like oneself. If there are reasons, then if those reasons are no longer there, because life is constantly changing, then you will once again begin to dislike yourself. If you are comparing yourself with others you may find reasons to like yourself because you consider yourself 'better off' than certain others. But just around the corner there are always other individuals who will be 'better off' than you are and it will be hard to stop that bringing you down again.
So what to do?
All is not lost. In fact, the solution, as solutions so often are, is incredibly simple. We just remove one of the words from the original encouragement.
Instead of 'Love yourself', use the more simple directive: 'Love!'
Love never differentiates. Simply love unconditionally. You will then begin to understand what on Earth I was banging on about in the 4th paragraph. You will then begin to feel more and more one with all that is and less and less interested in that 'person' you currently refer to as 'yourself'. You will feel your 'self' expanding, eventually to encompass the whole of existence, so that love and compassion become as effortless and natural as breathing.
You will laugh out loud at things you previously considered to be 'problems', that were all based around trying to protect that very small 'self'.
You will have remembered who you really are. You will have returned home.
"The man to whom is unveiled the mystery of Love
Exists no longer, but vanishes into Love.
Place before the Sun a burning candle
And watch its brilliance disappear before that blaze.
The candle exists no longer, it is transformed into Light;
There are no more signs of it, it itself becomes sign." Rumi
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