There is that kind of love that is emphasized in the Eastern teachings, which have now come to the West, and that’s the unconditional love, pure love that sets no conditions. That’s so hard for us here in the West and probably for most in the world, to truly love in an unconditional way.

Robert: Hello and welcome to Inner Sight. Today’s topic is love and we want to explore this mysterious concept of love, and certainly wish there was much more love in the world. I think the first time that I developed what I thought was mature love was when I started to think of another person’s needs as being more important than my own. I think that was a point in my life where I evolved past childish and superficial love. I was pretty happy about that thought. Much of what we say in this show comes from the writings of Alice Bailey and this quote is hers: “Let love be the keynote in all relationships, for the power which must salvage the world is love.” Why do you think there’s so much misunderstanding or confusion surrounding love? 

Sarah: I think there’s the mistaken sense that love is desire and a lot of what people think passes for love is in fact desire, which is the urge to attract something or someone to oneself, when in fact true love doesn’t attract to itself, but rather radiates outward. If we had to think of an image for these two views of love, desire would be a magnet drawing something or someone to itself, an irresistible force that would hold someone to oneself. But true love is like the sun. It shines in abundance without question upon absolutely everything and everyone on planet Earth, without distinguishing, favoring, or holding back; it simply gives of itself. That’s real love. There is so much glamour and mistaken attitudes about love, fed in large part because people view themselves as separate from all others. They have wants and desires and they need somebody or something to fulfill those desires, and that’s what they call love. It’s a kind of utilitarian view of relationships that doesn’t really express spiritual love, but people in their millions, if not billions, have this approach to love, and it’s behind what causes so much of the unhappiness and suffering in the world. 

Dale: It may be inevitable that people are confused or have a lot of misunderstanding about love because of the focus of their consciousness. I think most people are concerned about the desires of the material world and relationships with other people and about affectionate relationships. That’s where their focus is, where their thinking lies and it’s at that level where a lot of distortion enters in, because that lower emotional kind of thinking just doesn’t think clearly. 

Robert: Is love an emotion, or an attitude or what actually is it? 

Sarah: Well, let me begin by saying I don’t know. I can only try to talk around the subject. Most of us, certainly myself, are in the process of learning to love; we’re learning what it means, so I am by no means an authority. There is a statement from that wonderful book by Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy. Maybe you know it. He said that “love is a mode of knowledge,” which suggests that love is not an emotion, but actually a state of mind. Maybe what he was getting at is that love gives you insight into people. By loving them, you understand them. I think most of us approach that concept backwards. We think, I will love someone when I can understand them. First, I have to analyze them, figure them out, make sense of their character, and then I’ll probably love them. Or maybe I won’t, depending on what I learn about them. But in fact, by loving, simply loving, we gain an insight into other people. The understanding comes out of love, so that suggests that it’s an attitude of mind.  

Dale: There is that kind of love that is emphasized in the Eastern teachings, which have now come to the West, and that’s the unconditional love, pure love that sets no conditions. That’s so hard for us here in the West and probably for most in the world, to truly love in an unconditional way. In the morning when you go to work and sit on the subway next to somebody who doesn’t smell quite so nice, you may find it very difficult to love, but in your heart, you’re saying, I love everybody, I love all of humanity, except perhaps not this person sitting next to me. (laughter) So, we set conditions on love and that’s the hard part that we have to get around. 

Sarah: Conditions and expectations, but again, that’s a self referring attitude, isn’t it? It’s saying I want this back in return, this expectation, this hope has to be met by this person who I think I might love. It isn’t the free circulation of love as an energy, which is really, I think, getting closer to the real nature of it. It’s an energy that circulates freely without any impediment and it’s a source of power. This is something that Martin Luther King understood. He used to speak of the “expulsive power of love,” meaning that love drives out evil. It’s a tremendous force, like a tidal wave. When you love, you drive out evil. One of the great Buddhist scriptures, the Dhammapada, said it in a different way. It said “In this world, hate never yet dispelled hate; only love dispels hate. This is the law, ancient and inexhaustible.” That again touches on love as a power. It’s a mental state. The Bible touched upon it too, in a different way. It said that “Perfect love casts out fear.” 

Robert: I like what Dale said before about unconditional love too, taught by our most enlightened members of humanity, Christ and Buddha. Especially Christ, where one reads scripture and sees that he viewed humanity as all being of extreme value. Perhaps an analogy might be that everyone has diamond qualities within them. Perhaps some of us are unpolished, but the diamond is within everybody. So, his love was unconditional because he thought within every human being there was extreme worth and extreme dignity. Perhaps people needed to work on themselves, but he saw their value. Then of course you have conditional love and perhaps there is some merit to that too, because when one does fall in love with another human being, aren’t you falling in love with people who somehow embody the values that you have the highest respect for? And perhaps maybe you haven’t really achieved their values, but you look upon them and think, within that person are the values and degree of integrity that I want to reach for myself someday. So, I guess there’s two aspects of love, and that’s why love is so difficult to really define, because there are so many different types of love. 

Dale: Yes, even at the planetary level there is love because we’re told in the writings of Alice Bailey that love is the primary energy that is to work out on planet Earth, and particularly through the human kingdom. The work that we do here, that’s essentially our destiny: to work out love. 

Sarah: Yes, she even goes so far as to say that love is the primary force for the evolution on this planet. It’s a compelling, impelling power. Love is what drives evolution forward. You can think about that and see the natural world and the state of human affairs in a much different light; when you think that behind all the chaos, separation, hatred, struggle and striving is the energy of love trying to drive human beings into better relationship with each other and with the planet. 

Robert:  I think we’d all like to get into the deeper aspects of love, so how do we learn to love? 

Sarah: Just like we develop our muscles by using them gradually, building up greater and greater strength, I think we learn to love by loving. We start by loving those who are around us and in our environment: our family, our friends, our coworkers. Maybe we can’t think of loving people like our neighbors, friends, and coworkers in the same way that we might love our family, but we can love them in the sense of creating more correct human relationships with them. Love is never worked up from below and that gives us an insight into the fact that we don’t have to struggle as a personality to love people. It comes from above, from the soul. It’s a divine energy, so it’s useless to try to struggle to love people. We should instead think of it as an energy that wants to run through us if we would simply get out of the way of it, remembering that it’s a power we have to make room for in our lives, rather than thinking of struggling really hard to love somebody. 

Dale: Yes, we have to practice love. There is a little prayer that we use every day and it’s called the Noontime Recollection and it goes like this: “I know, O Lord of Life and Love, about the need. Touch my heart anew with love, that I too may love and give.” So, by using this prayer it’s a way of drawing in and practicing love, actually. If you think about the words and visualize that love coming into your heart and distributing that love to others, then that’s essentially how you learn to love—by doing it. 

Sarah: Another thought to keep in mind is that love doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a nice attitude towards someone. You might think that you would of course have to have a decent attitude towards someone, but not necessarily. What I’m getting at is something that Mother Teresa said some years ago that really stuck in my mind. She said, “I’ve travelled all over the world, North and South, East and West. I’ve met all different kinds of people and what I have found is that they are all in need of love.” Well, if you think about that, she didn’t say that they were all lovable or that they all appealed to her and touched her heart. What she said was, she found that they were all in need of love, and if you use that insight, you can approach just about anyone, no matter how different or strange or even repellent they might be at first thought. If you see them as someone in need of love, you find an inlet into understanding them, which I think is a very interesting exercise, especially for those of us who suffer from some degree of shyness. Shyness is always a kind of self-reference that keeps you locked within yourself. If you think of others as people who need love, you might find a way to approach them without so much guarding of oneself. 

Dale: Of course, that was the whole purpose of why Christ came into the world when he did, because the world needed love and it’s no less today than it was 2000 years ago, and that’s why these great teachers, these great Avatars like Christ and Buddha have come into the world because this is the energy and the quality that we need to build into our lives and into our consciousness, this quality of love, divine love in particular. 

Robert: Dale, you’re absolutely right. Christ and Buddha were really the greatest teachers that ever lived. Something that amuses me, people think of Will Rogers as being a Pollyanna because he said, “I never met a man I didn’t like,” but that’s taken out of context. If one reads the full context of what Will Rogers meant, he explained that when we sit down with a person, feel their pain, understand the road of life that they’ve travelled on which has made them the type of person they’ve become and we can empathize with them, then it’s hard not to like them. So, that’s really the complete context of what Will Rogers said. He wasn’t really a Pollyanna. What does the state of the world show us about the abundance or lack of love? 

Sarah: Well, I think you can look into the world and see that there’s a terrible lack of love in the way that we treat the environment. We are abusive to the environment. We are desecrating the natural world. This past century has accelerated the loss of trees and the creation of more and more desert. It’s really shocking and at base, I think it expresses a lack of love for the natural world, or we wouldn’t treat it the way we do. We wouldn’t foul up the rivers and lakes and oceans and we wouldn’t pollute the sky if we truly loved the planet. And you can see a certain lack of love in the way money is distributed throughout the world, or not distributed. It’s held in the hands of a very small percentage of humanity. The great amount wealth in the world is held in the hands of a few, and yet there is something like one billion people who live on one dollar a day or less, and we allow this to happen. This is, to me, an unforgivable expression of a lack of love, for people to say that it’s okay that they have nothing, if you have so much. 

Dale: The love of money is the root of all evil, as it says. 

Sarah: Right, not money. Money is not the root of all evil. Money is a tremendous force for good when used rightly. But the love of money, the craving of it, is the root of all evil. I think another sign that we need more love in the world is the quality of the mass culture, it’s coarse and crude. You can’t turn on the television, even in the so-called family hour of eight o’clock, without seeing and hearing things that, at least from my point of view, are shocking and coarsening. There’s a coarsening of people’s attitudes today that I think is expressive of a lack of love. You can look at politics. We’ve just come through the most bruising election and what struck me about the whole process, which seemed to go on for an eternity, but in fact I guess lasted about two years, was how little love there was for the candidates. I don’t know how you get anybody to run for office these days. How, especially, can you get a decent, sensitive human being to put himself and his family through what Gore and Bush went through to run for the presidency? They were mocked and laughed at, tormented and taunted by the media and by the public. My heart goes out to them. 

Robert: That’s very true. It’s also been said that one cannot really love another person unless one knows how to love themselves. Do you think there’s any truth to that? 

Sarah: I do, yes. If we come back to this image, that love is a free-flowing expression of energy, it has to be channeled into oneself because one is a part of the whole. You can’t love everything and everyone except yourself; that would make no sense, because you would be separating yourself from the whole of life. So, you have to love yourself. That doesn’t mean being blind to your faults. Love is not blind; as I quoted Aldous Huxley, “love is a mode of knowledge.” I think by loving oneself one can see oneself more clearly and see how you have to grow and change because you have enough self-respect and enough self-love to take an honest look at yourself. 

Robert: Being narcissistic is not what we mean by loving oneself, but rather being a little bit easier on oneself. We can be our own worst enemy and we can be the cruelest to ourselves. I think the first step is to forgive ourselves, to let up on ourselves, and know that whatever mistakes that we have made in life is because we’re evolving, we’re growing, and that’s what we’re here for. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t be here. We have to give ourselves a chance to grow, learn and make some mistakes and love ourselves, not being so tough on ourselves. If we can be that way with ourselves, perhaps we can have that viewpoint towards other people and be easier on them as well. Perhaps that’s what that statement means. I can also see it as being a case where we may not be loving ourselves in the way God would want us to, but we see within another person something that we aspire to and see in them qualities that we do love even though we may have to work on our own self-love. 

Sarah: I’d like to come back to a point that we touched on, but I don’t think we really addressed it in depth, and that is the difference between love and sentiment or feeling. Valentine’s Day every year brings up a lot of sentimental hoo-hah about love that really doesn’t have anything to do with love. People confuse the two and I think it’s part of what lies behind the divorce rate. People have an expectation of the person they marry that they are going to complete their lives, complete their sense of themselves, meet their needs, and when that person fails to do so, the relationship falls apart. Love is not based on emotional need, and it’s not based on a kind of sentimental vision of people. It’s an honest view of people. It sees them as they truly are, and there’s a great deal in our culture, in the media, which works against this honesty that fosters a kind of a glamorous, foggy notion of people that holds them up to a standard that isn’t realistic. If we look at the people in the popular culture that are most admired, sometimes they’re people that are really famous only for being famous. In other words, they’re just celebrities who really have no substantial contribution. I think this is an expression of how misunderstood love is. 

Robert: When we love someone, too, if we’re speaking about real love, we love them in spite of their faults. We see certain qualities within them that we admire and love, but we realize that they’re human. We have to also remember one of the greatest messages of Jesus Christ before he came to his end was to “Love one another as I have loved you.” Of course, that may be almost impossible for us because we’re not at that stage of personal evolution, to love like he did. Hopefully, we’ll be on that road and we’ll reach that pinnacle of our ability to love one another as he has loved us. He certainly made the extreme sacrifice in order to do that. Do you have any final thoughts as we wind the show up on what love Is all about? 

Sarah: Your mentioning of Christ’s statement brings to mind another that is from the Bible. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and thy neighbour as thyself; all the rest is commentary,” the rabbi said. That really cuts to the heart of what love is, to love thy neighbor as thyself: not as much as oneself, but as a reflection of oneself, I think is the meaning of that statement. We love our neighbour, whoever that might be, as a reflection of the same self that exists within us. The either-or approach to love, which sees love as an object, works against that truth. 

Robert: In closing, we invite you to ponder on this thought. Goodwill is the touchstone that will transform the world. Goodwill is love in action. It is the energy that draws us together in right relationship. There’s a world prayer called the Great Invocation. It’s a call for light, love, and goodwill to flow into the world and into our hearts. Let’s listen for a moment to these powerful words. 

Sarah: Closes the program by reciting the adapted version of the Great Invocation

(This is an edited transcript of a recorded radio program called “Inner Sight”. This conversation was recorded between the host, Robert Anderson, and the then President and Vice-President of Lucis Trust, Sarah and Dale McKechnie.)

(Transcribed and edited by Carla McLeod)




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