“as I begin to identify my true “self” as one with the force of all creation, I am faced with the inevitability of embracing everything I’m opposed to, including all atrocities, as a part of myself.” – c.s.

we, as a race, exist as a collective with no one excluded. if we truly love ourselves, we must also love every component of the collective that is humanity. faced with those who perpetrate violence, hatred, and cruelty, this can be a colossal challenge. I chose to believe that we could heal the violence that our race inflicts upon itself by learning, as individuals, to embrace, love, and nurture the collective as we would any individual the we care deeply for.

as I am loved and nurtured by family, friends, relationships, community, and environment, I feel a growing sense of belonging. as I am reached, touched, supported, and included by those around me, I feel a growing sense of identification with those who play a part in my development. losing my sense of separation (experiencing love) allows me to feel more responsive to, and more responsible for those around me. this sense of extended family allows me to feel comfortable, safe, and inspired to share love. the more love I nurture within myself and with those around me, the wider my sense of identification. as I start to experience it all as a great system feeding back on itself, I notice how “giving” to anyone else becomes “giving” to a part of myself. and so “giving” and “receiving” become less distinguishable. the expanding sense of feeling myself in others, in animals, in the natural environment, gives me a sense of communicating, exchanging love, and sharing identity with all things. from this, I sense my position in everything. I sense god in and around me.

directing negativity towards others works in the same way. it comes right back at me. but as love frees and heals my deep-seated anger, sadness, and abandonment, these “filters” no longer handicap my ability to reach out and be reached.

what of those who steal, rape, murder, and inflict other forms of violence on fellow humans, animals, and nature? I see them (us) as having fallen out of the fold of love. I see those who have “fallen from grace” as those who are trapped in a very limited sense of identification. their empathic circumference is very small. taking from “another” or hurting “another” does not resonate within them in the same way it would resonate within a being whose heart has begun to reach toward infinity. somewhere their experience has told them that they are emotionally, psychologically and karmically separated from others.

if we are to truly expand our identity to include everyone, we must look at the part of ourselves that is separated. we must own the “fallen”, the poor, the hungry, the suffering, the faithless, the wounded, and any who appear to be separated from us as a part of ourselves. and here I have to ask, “have we not loved enough?”

clearly, societies are divided and separated by economic strata. this is a glaring metaphor for how we physically manifest and perpetuate the separation we feel in our hearts. the poor, the criminal, the wounded, the hungry, the separated, exist because we have not extended our hearts far enough to include them. I vaguely remember a quote from the Buddha as saying that he could not achieve his full Buddha-hood until all of humanity had done the same. and so I must ask ask,” can anyone be truly wealthy when part of themselves is homeless or starving?” can anyone find peace without addressing the part of themselves that is suffering? is there contentment for anyone in a world where conflict and competition are epidemic?

we can’t heal the wounds of the world single-handedly, but we can extend ourselves to those within our reach. we can offer help to a neighbor, smile at a stranger, contribute to a charity, and generally be vigilant for the opportunities where generosity, kindness, compassion, tolerance, and understanding can be exercised. every moment provides the opportunity to expand our experience of love. gestures of love remind us and others that the boundaries of our humanity are more inclusive than exclusive. perhaps, one day, we will be delivered into the awareness that there are truly no limits at all to the reach of our humanity.

©2006 chris spheeris