All roads lead to love. That is the message I have been receiving lately, in my life, in my meditations and in my work.
While researching for a tele-class I discovered an interesting book titled "Beyond Forgiveness, Reflections on Atonement" by Phil Cousineau. In it he writes, "The act of atonement, the experience of at-one-ment, allows you to be conscious that you've never really been cut off, that you've always been one with the only power that is." What struck me while reading the stories of atonement, contributed by a variety of people, is how through a transcendental understanding of those who had hurt them they accomplished total healing. They embraced "at-one-ment" and by doing so were able to begin a healing journey that brought each person to a deeper and more meaningful understanding of their purpose in life. Often the atonement was so profound that it shifted their entire life path. Think of Nelson Mandela inviting the very guard who gravely mistreated him to join him for tea. Love is the foundation, the undercurrent, the mystical force that fuels forgiveness and atonement. Love is the power that enables us to transcend our own limited views.
A friend recently suggested that I read the book "Dying to be Me" by Anita Moorjami. In it the author echoed the idea that we are all one through the sharing of her near death experience. She states, "I became aware that we're all connected. This was not only every person and living creature, but the interwoven unification felt as though it were expanding outward to include everything in the universe, every human, animal, plant, insect, mountain, sea, inanimate object and the cosmos." She recounts the experience of complete and all encompassing love.
The message of oneness and love is more often spoken of on Sunday mornings than acted on in our every day life. We tend to find ways to habitually separate ourselves from others. Our neighbors build fences; we see the world as "us and them". There are the democrats and the republicans, the sinners and the saints, the rich or the poor. We find ways to look down our noses at the individual, the group or our community in order to feel superior. What kind of world would we live in if we could begin to understand that when we judge others we judge ourselves? When we see lack in someone it is a reflection of a fear or sadness that resides within.
How can we begin to train our eyes to see the need for love in others, rather than reacting in judgement or condemnation? One tool or method to strengthen and instill the power of love is to choose to focus on the virtues that grow love. First, through the love of Self, the careful nurturing of our soul and spirit, we may build the muscle that manifests love. Daily attention to a practice of living the virtues that open avenues toward love will strengthen the foundation. If you practice forgiveness, you build love. When you experience gratitude you expand love. By seeking to create harmony you grow love. When you act with kindness and compassion you reflect love. Live in ways that open the door to kindness, harmony, compassion, forgiveness, creativity, and joy and you will be spreading love throughout your day.
As Dion Warwick once sang, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love" and it has never been more apparent. As you begin to reflect love in your day—be kind to yourself. Do not judge or criticize your efforts. Each conscious act of love can only build on the next until you one day discover that you are expressing your inner light in a more dynamic and beautiful way.
It takes courage to be on this planet. I so appreciate all of you are joining me on this beautiful journey.