There can be no lasting peace on earth until each of us makes peace with ourselves. Steps 8 and 9 of the 12 Steps are about making amends for the harm we have caused while being actively addicted. The most important amend we have to make is to ourselves for losing faith in our essential goodness as living beings on this planet. We are all born innocent, open and receptive. This is our birthright, the basis of our essential goodness. How we are taught and treated after we enter into this world will often determine whether we embrace this essence or reject it.
What is self love and why do so many of us mistakenly associate it with selfishness? I think it is because we don’t really understand the meaning of love. Love is a verb; it is an action and a way of being. Love is love because it sets no conditions for itself. Love is vast, healthy, balanced, healing. Love gives with no thought of getting. Love is the most perfect thing we can think of which is why many people identify their Higher Power with love. But the adults of our species must confront their own imperfections daily and the greatest imperfection of all is this shocking lack of self love. Yet it is mostly the adult population that breed and bring children into this world. And these adults teach what they have learned from their parents, caretakers and teachers; they teach the great lie that love is conditional.
When Buddha and Jesus tried to teach us to love our enemies, they were trying to teach us that love must be unconditional towards ourselves and all others. This world we have set up of reward and punishment is not a world based on love. We live in a world of rules. Follow the rule or “moral law” and you will be rewarded, break it and you will be punished. And yet we break these rules all the time. Love has only one rule: do no harm to yourself or others. That’s it. When you beak that one rule, all you have to do is to return to love once again, that’s how we are able to make the amends we all have to make.
Do no harm to yourself and others. What would our world turn into if every parent in every culture across the planet taught their children this one golden rule? It would turn into a place of peace. Love is peace and harmony amongst us all. As it stands we are a planet of using addicts. Addiction is about war and disharmony within ourselves and with each other. Addiction at its core is about self hatred. Addiction is about reward and punishment. Addiction is about following and breaking “rules”. Addiction is about being caught in a cycle we cannot willingly stop. This is the world we teach our children to enter into and to adapt to and they do.
The seeds of self hatred are planted in each of us when we are so very young and vulnerable to attack. We are told as soon as we are able to understand that if we are “good” and follow the rules, we will receive the reward of love and attention, and if we are “bad” and don’t follow the rules, we will be punished and the affection we need for our soul’s health will be withdrawn or worse we will be verbally attacked or worse than that physically and/or sexually abused. Most of us choose as children to follow the rules because we wanted to survive. How quickly we as adults forget that children are dependent on us for their physical, emotional and mental survival. When we teach the children that love is a thing, a reward, and not an action and way of being, we stop practicing and teaching love.
Addicts who choose to enter into recovery, choose to practice love as a way of being and acting. They finally take on the responsibility of caring for themselves and loving themselves in a way that their parents, caretakers and teachers did not. They take the child that they once were and become a true parent to that child. They give love with no thought of a return and continually teach themselves and that child about unconditional love, how to nurture it and extend it out to all others. This is called practicing peace.
A Recovery Blog
This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.