Part III on the Series on Love

Gnothi Seuton - Know Thyself in ancient Greek - was inscribed on the Temple of Apollo in Delphi as an invitation to all who came there to seek answers from the Oracle

Gnothi Seuton – Know Thyself in ancient Greek – was inscribed on the Temple of Apollo in Delphi as an invitation to all who came there to seek answers from the Oracle

THE ignorant man is not the unlearned, but he who does not know himself, and the learned man is stupid when he relies on books, on knowledge and on authority to give him understanding. Understanding comes only through self- knowledge, which is awareness of one’s total psychological process. Thus education, in the true sense, is the understanding of oneself, for it is within each one of us that the whole of existence is gathered.

 

  Opening to Chapter 2 of J. Krishnamurti ‘s

“Education and the Significance of Life”

 

I had already begun working on the next section of this series on Love – Love of Other(s), which obviously means speaking of our relationships with our families of origin, our intimate partners, our children, our friends …… relationship in its many different forms, and Love in its many different expressions.

But then, something happened yesterday that made me want to wrap up the first section, in which I have focused on Love of Self, by going just a little bit deeper. The expression “blood and guts” came to mind; in other words, the core of things, and also the messy parts. Those aspects of love for ourselves that require being wiling to really get our hands dirty, by delving into the muck of our existences – our painful experiences, our difficult emotions and memories and reactions; all those things we have not done at all well, or the outright mistakes we have made that have hurt either ourselves or others.

Hieronymus-Bosch-A-Violent-Forcing-Of-The-Frog

Hieronymus Bosch – A Violent Forcing of the Frog

No one likes looking at these “shadow” aspects of our lives, but the truth is that until we do, we just skate along on the surface of existence. We all have had pain, we all have felt anger and hatred, and we all have made mistakes: why is it that we have become so determined to pretend that this is not so? What is it in the human experience that makes us want to run from our shadow – and deny its existence?

I remember some years ago I was in a group context with a person who affirmed that he had never felt hatred; that his grandfather had told him when he was little that their family did not hate, and so that was that. He had never felt hatred, because it was something that his family just didn’t “do”.

I found this affirmation amazing, especially because the demeanor of this person was not at all one of someone at peace with himself, nor were his actions towards others particularly tolerant and loving. It was obvious that this was a person who had convinced himself that he was not “guilty” of the “sin” of hatred ….. but this conviction was based on a denial of reality, rather than on some inner accomplishment of having risen above this most complex and scary aspect of human experience.

There is no question that both love and hatred are rooted in decisions we make about how to react to people, places and things, and that a decision to “not hate” is obviously

Hades, the Greek God of the underworld, was actually the wealthiest of the gods - which points to the inner riches hidden within our darkness.

Hades, the Greek God of the underworld, was actually the wealthiest of the gods – which points to the inner riches hidden within our darkness.

preferable to a decision to, instead, pull out all the stops and express our hatred and frustration at every opportunity (those who do so in such an extreme way are not the norm, fortunately; most of us are somewhere in between, trying to handle it the best we can).

But does that really solve the problem? I don’t think so. As all of psychology has taught us, during this century of avid exploration of the human psyche and soul since Freud began peering systematically into the human unconscious in the late 1800s, repression does not equate a solution, and denial is only a cover-up.

The human freedom to choose between love and hate is something we each have, even when our freedom is limited, such as when we are small children, or when we have not yet discovered, as adults, how much power we truly have over ourselves and our lives. Learning how to make choices based on love that do not, however, simply shove our anger and hatred into the background, thereby conferring upon them even greater power over us exactly because they are repressed and denied, is an essential aspect of learning the Art of Love.

True love cannot be a simple repression of our hatred or a denial of our aggressive reactions to our hurts and traumas: that is what the religions attempt to do, and while they most certainly help contain and direct much of our human instinctual chaos and selfish violence, their lack of success in eradicating the problems related to human hatred is evident all around us – and also within us.

What is the solution, then?

One of the solutions that Antonio Mercurio proposes, and that he elaborates in most of his books, but most especially in “The Ulysseans” and “Hypotheses on Ulysses” (click on either title for free download at www.sur.it, soon to be available again on my website as well), is to look at love and hatred as two opposites that must be synthesized, rather than opposites where one wins over and “destroys” the other. Such an attitude invites us to radically change our way of looking at our so-called negative emotions and traits: instead of seeing them as enemies, we can begin seeing them as energies that can be integrated, to give our lives even greater momentum and purpose.

The Love ForceThe energy of hatred, mixed with the energy of love, creates, in Mercurio’s words, “La Forza Amorosa” – the Love Force, or perhaps even more accurately, the Loving Force. The energy of love infused with hatred is the energy we sometimes need to break out of oppressive situations – if we are simply loving and accepting, how can we possibly stand up to those who are abusing us? Even towards ourselves we must sometimes call forth the Love Force, to tear down our resistance towards making changes that we know we must make to become more in harmony with our deepest Selves.

Love of Self – Love in general – is not just about being warm and fuzzy and accepting everything as it is. Sometimes Love – with a capital L – requires the energy of hatred to destroy what needs to be destroyed, so new levels of creativity and beauty can be achieved.

This is, in my view, what the blood and guts of Love are all about – finding the strength and courage to embrace our shadows, and know that in those “darker” energies lie also precious elements that, if harnessed properly, can actually infuse what is bright and good within us with the energy needed to be fully expressed.

It is rarely a comfortable process: who wants to admit to themselves or anyone else that they have such feelings and thoughts? Who wants to embrace the demons within? Many people tend to skate along the surface, denying that they have such problems, and hoping that nothing will ever happen to force them to look.

Others choose, instead, to take the dive and look closely, and through the pain of this process end up discovering a whole new world of great riches, where the good is not split away from the bad, but rather where the good is energized and strengthened by the transformation of the darkness.IMG_3141

This is how the Love Force is created, and how, in our wholeness, we can begin to embrace ourselves in all of our complexity and imperfection, and step towards creating new love and beauty for ourselves and others. This is what becoming an Artist of one’s life means – and I can personally attest to how exciting, challenging, daunting, terrifying and wonderful the process is.

In January 2015 I will begin offering courses for certification in Existential Personalistic Anthropology and Cosmoartistic Anthropology, whose focus will be to teach men and women of all ages and backgrounds how to become Persons and Artists of their lives: it will be a thrilling thing for me to begin sharing this extraordinary approach, offered here in the USA for the first time, in an even more in-depth way than I do in my work with people in individual and group sessions.

This is part of my own transformation of my life into a work of art, where I have had to make many, many new choices to love myself and others rather than hate myself and others, and to transform trauma and pain into beauty and new opportunities for love.

Thank you for reading me and for sharing the journey; this is not a journey that is done alone, and each one of you is a precious part of my own process of learning how to create the Love Force, and dive courageously into the Blood and Guts of Love (and hatred) every time I must, to continue growing and choosing love and beauty, one day at a time.

May the [Love] Force be with you ! 🙂

Martha