Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matthew 22:39), not “as much as you love yourself.” We are to love our neighbor in the same way we love ourselves. “We love because God has first loved us” (1 John 4:19). When we accept the unconditional love and undeserved mercy that God offers us—knowing that we are not worthy of it—then we can allow God to love others through us in the same way. It’s God in you loving you, warts and all, and God in you loving others as they are. This is why the love you have available to give away is limitless. As Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “The water that I shall give you will turn into a spring inside of you, welling up into limitless life” (John 4:14).
The following exercise is based on a teaching from Friar Francisco de Osuna, OFM (1492-1542), the spiritual “master” of Teresa of Ávila. Here is what he taught his students, in my words:
- Dam up the fountain of your soul, where love is always springing forth.
- It will be forced to rise.
- Yet it will remain quiet and at rest within you; wait for that quiet.
- You will see the image of God reflected in your own clear waters, more resplendent than in any other thing—provided the disturbing turmoil of thoughts dies down.
Below is a simple commentary and aid on this teaching, so that you can experience it for yourself. It is quite similar to what the Hindus discovered in tantra, where you hold the powerful gift so that it can be deepened and refined before being expressed.
Try to stay beneath your thoughts, neither fighting them nor thinking them. Hold yourself at a deeper level than your mind, perhaps in your chest, solar plexus, or breath; stay in your body self. Resist any desire to repress or express; allow animal contentment. It will feel like nothing or darkness. Stay “crouched” there at the cellular level without shame, long enough for Another Source to begin to flow and well up as light or joy.
This is the “super-essential life.” From this place you become seeing, and the love flows through you from the Source as an energy more than as an idea. You cannot “think” God. God is never an “object” of consciousness like any other thing, person, or event that you “know.” God is always and forever the subject, the doer, the initiator, “the Prevenient Grace.” You have then “become” what you hope to see. Subject and object are one. God in you and through you sees and loves God—in yourself and in others, too.