SIG: What you said, Ev, reminds me of one of my strangest experiences in counseling. A woman came in who was very fearful about a number of things. It seemed to me that I detected a beam of light flowing through her. I'm not given to seeing visions, but to me it was a very real thing.
As we discussed something of the nature of God as Love, and the goodness of life and the potentiality of healing and freedom, this light would straighten out and shine directly. Then she would go back and start enumerating her fears and I could see that light beam distort. Sometimes it almost disappeared completely.
It was a very startling thing to me to realize that in each one of us there is a beam of light. Of course Jesus said, "You are the light of the world," and some of our top scientists now state that this is a literal scientific truth as well as a spiritual truth. But this was one of those rare occasions in my mind's eye, or in whatever area of the consciousness one perceives such things. I could see so clearly that when she was relaxed and was beginning to think of God as Love, and life as love and joy, that the beam would straighten out and shine directly with no distortion. But the moment she began to turn to her fears and talk about them and to give in to those negative feelings, the light itself was completely distorted and sometimes turned off.
Perhaps one definition of health could be the flow of light without disruption through all our systems of self-expression. Love, of course, is Life, and Life is Light, so they're all connected.
Sometimes people say, "How can I love my enemies, they're so distasteful?" or "How can I love a condition that's so distasteful?" We're not talking about generating a state of affection as much as we are about releasing a beam of energy, of light, of spiritual power into the situation.
We learn to love by loving. Even though we might not know very much about the power or nature of love, a conscious effort to direct a beam of love as our friend did does produce results. We learn to think by thinking, we learn to fear by fearing, we learn to complain by complaining, and we learn to love by loving.
Ev: I think another very important thing, Sig, to bring up at this point is the problem of the person who has never received love, because we can't realistically ask this person to love. We have to give him the opportunity to receive love before he can put it out. We've had a number of people come as guests to Meadowlark who have never experienced love. Perhaps the mother died in childbirth, or the father was an alcoholic. They have come to us with various types of illnesses. It is of tremendous importance to let them receive love, not one time but, as Jesus said, "Until seventy times seven." We have to keep repeating this, because those of us who have been brought up with love in our childhood take it for granted and we know something about returning love. But the person who has never had this exposure must go through stages of loving.
Perhaps it's appropriate to talk about the evolution of love. Love is a growth experience. It starts with a little baby being cast out into the world very much by itself, after having been held and cuddled within the mother's womb. The tremendous importance of the mother's breast-feeding is often deemphasized these days. The child needs to be held, needs to feel the closeness of the mother, needs to feel the warmth of the mother's breast, needs to be cuddled and sung to and talked to. Many experiments have proven the importance of this. Multiple instances show that children raised in nurseries where they are scarcely touched by human beings and fed bottles without being held by any person will not do as well as the child who is close to the mother from the beginning.
SIG: Love is the ideal atmosphere in which children should be reared from their early childhood to adolescence. Unfortunately this doesn't happen too often. Love is not so much a matter of permissiveness or strict discipline as it is a resiliency of spirit that expects the greatest good, the greatest potential from the child, without attempting to force him or her into a particular pattern. Love takes time, it takes interest, it takes attention. All too often in this busy age, parents are just too occupied running a home, making a living, and conducting a business to give the proper time and attention to the children. It is easier sometimes to be overly strict or overly permissive as a substitute for love.
Love itself is always on the job and it seeks not itself, not its own, but the unfolding and growth of the child's potential. Love recognizes the individuality, the uniqueness-or if we put it in terms of rhythm, the different rhythm of each individual-and encourages him to stand in his own rhythm, and to live his own self into expression always realizing that there is a responsibility to selfhood. If the parent has the feeling of love, then he becomes a source of strength for the child.
There seems little doubt that in our childhood experiences we accept and establish patterns of thought and feeling, and ways of looking at life, that accompany us through our entire lifetime. I know a very successful Sunday school superintendent who exerts considerable discipline in a wonderful way. She says that she loves the children too much not to expect the best from them and to let them know that she expects it.
We speak a great deal of nutrition, both mental and physical. Probably one of the most painful lacks in life is love starvation. Love is an atmosphere in the home or the school or other educational center in which each individual is recognized as being a unique self-expression of life and encouraged to bring that uniqueness into greater unfoldment. Quite often it is easier to be overly permissive or overly strict than to encourage the uniqueness of life within each individual. But undoubtedly we are coming to that point in human unfoldment where, if we will take the time and the energy and provide the teachers, we can establish this kind of atmosphere.
Ev: Sig, I feel that the most distant stars, the sun, the moon and the planets, the surrounding atmosphere, the earth that grows our food, all are in relation to the temple of the body. The creatures of the sea, the world of insects, the birds and animals all have their place in one delicately balanced system. I wish I knew them better.
Most significant of all, the human beings who surround me every day, those whom I know by name and those whom I may never see, somehow all live in relation to me. Walt Whitman, in his "Song of Myself," saw why you, my friend Sig, and I go away each year and rediscover ourselves in a truer perspective:
In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barleycorn less,
And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them.
I know I am solid and sound, To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow,
All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.
I know I am deathless,
I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by a carpenter's compass,
I know I shall not pass like a child's carlacue cut with a burnt stick at night.
I know I am august, I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood, I see that the elementary laws never apologize,
(I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by, after all).
I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content, And if each and all be aware I sit content.1
1. Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (New York and Philadelphia: David McKay, 1900).