At this time of year we tend to put aside our differences and come together to celebrate the Joy of Life. We celebrate the triumph of God over the shrunken, alienated self. We celebrate the birth of a Great Being, the Incarnation of God. We feel God’s compassion and Love for all of us. We recall the triumph of Good over Evil in the story of Judah Maccabee. We are all God’s, and in Truth there is nothing but God.
|Love of life||Despair|
|Too out there / lost in externals||Self-contained|
But despite all the celebration, we have forgotten our true nature. We foolishly think we are steering the ship; instead, we are drowning, yet completely unaware. This is what Kierkegaard meant when he wrote in The Sickness unto Death that the specific characteristic of most despair is that it is unaware of being despair.
True self-containment requires awareness; when we despair, we work not to feel, and mistakenly call that self-containment. When we become aware, we move from despair to feeling, which will mean feeling the pain of our self-abandonment. It can show up as anxiety, upset, grief, anger, or weariness—but only by facing it can we move past it. Getting past the pain moves us to Love. To be proud in our despair is to choose to live in alienation.
We tend to distract ourselves with the world around us and believe this is loving life. But we are really “too out there”; we lose our subject in the object of the world. We abandon ourselves, and are therefore cut off from the source of life. Love comes from within; we cannot Love if we are outward-turned. In order to Love the world, we have to rest in the Heart and look out at the world simultaneously.
God will never forsake us. We forsake God. And we forsake ourselves, believing that we should please the outer world. We then fool ourselves into thinking we are giving when in truth we are abandoning ourselves, and that we are selfish when we are truly taking care of ourselves and others.
When we have abandoned ourselves this way, we then hide, believing we are being careful and protecting ourselves. We hold everything close to the chest, even our Hearts, believing we are smart and that those who are generous are foolish.
|Stingy with their heart||Generous with their heart|
|Savvy / smart||Naïve / foolish|
Clamping down, choking off, or shutting off feelings then seems to us exercising appropriate restraint. But it is really a form of stinginess. People who are stingy do not Love. For the stingy person, being in the Heart is losing.
|Willing to play||No fun|
|Just let Heart sing||Stifle|
|Generous of spirit||Mean-spirited|
Nasruddin was a tax collector. One day he fell into an open pit of sewage. People would come along and try to help him out, saying, “Sir, give me your hand.” He would be rude and either insult or ignore them. This went on for hours. Nasruddin was stuck in the sewer and could not get out. Finally, someone who knew him came by. Seeing Nasruddin, the man understood just what to do. “Nasruddin, take my hand,” he said. And of course, Nasruddin did.
When we are stingy, we call ourselves measured, restrained, careful. But in truth we are takers and will not give. Our stinginess reveals our despair.
We despair only when we are wrongly identified, and miss God’s play, and see ourselves as important. When we are full of ideas about ourselves, whether positive or negative, we cut ourselves off from Love. Love is our true nature, and we are to be our Self. To fully manifest our nature is to Love life. When we truly Love life, we will never be “too out there”. That would be like saying, “There is too much Love, too much God”.
Despair is ephemeral, no matter how hard we cling to it. We are all destined to Love for all eternity. And we should celebrate accepting that destiny.
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