True love is a fierce and terrifying sword

by | November 28, 2016

We have a twisted view of love in our culture.

In the first place, love connotes romantic infatuation and all its implications: affection, enchantment, yearning, passion, lust.

It’s a starry-eyed sentiment, a fervent feeling. The stuff of mushy poetry and sloppy love songs.

Even when not associated with romantic love, we view love as soft and tender. This is often subconsciously equated with weakness, for men in particular.

Love can also feel synonymous with tolerance, which becomes politicized. In general, liberals love tolerance; conservatives, not so much because to them it feels like misguided permissiveness.

So let’s talk about love.

What humankind is crying for

I want you to read a quote found in the book A Course in Miracles and, without analyzing it too much, simply pay attention to how it makes you feel:

“Every action is either an expression of love or a call for love.”

Pause now and clue into the feeling it creates for you. Read it again.

“Every action is either an expression of love or a call for love.”

If you’re like me, your immediate reaction is something like, “Oh, that’s heart-touching and sweet.” It feels soft, warm, and cuddly. Something you’d read in a Hallmark card that would melt your heart.

I’ve analyzed that quote for the past year or so and now I see it quite differently.

Now I see in the quote an unyielding strength, and uncompromising toughness, a relentless spirit bordering on ferocity.

The quote used to make me feel good. Now it torments me.

Now I understand its philosophical implications, as well as what it means for me on a practical level. It has backed me into a corner from which I can’t escape, though I fight it tooth and nail.

Love in the extreme

If the quote is true — and I wholeheartedly believe it is — then it has to be true at the extremes.

If true, it has to be true not just in the relatively trivial situations where it makes sense, but in the objectively horrifying situations where it seems bizarre and even evil to believe.

I’ll say it plainly: If it’s true, then it means Hitler’s Holocaust, Stalin’s Gulag, and Mao’s Cultural Revolution were calls for love.

If true, it means the Rwandan genocide was a call for love. Insane acts terrorism that kill and maim innocent women and children are calls for love. Murder, rape, and abuse are calls for love.

The most vile acts of humankind are misguided and desperate calls for love.

Heavy, mind-warping stuff, I know.

In this context, that quote doesn’t make you sigh — it makes you shudder. It no longer seems enlightening — it seems preposterous.

True love leaves us with no escape

Beyond the obvious, there’s a deeper reason why this understanding makes this quote so distressing: It leaves us with no excuse and no escape.

It throws down the gauntlet of a near-impossible standard to achieve. If we accept it as true, it no longer allows us to justify judgment, blame, and shame. It forces us to see the goodness underlying all behavior, however destructive.

In short, it leaves us with no wiggle room to squirm our way out of the most fundamental choice of humanity: to love or not to love.

In this quote we see the stark and tremendous truth: Love is not some dainty flower, but a fierce sword.

True love is not a soft-hearted sentiment swooned by romantic idealists, but a double-edged and razor-sharp weapon wielded by unwavering warriors.

True love can feel more dangerous than it feels comforting. I wonder if this is what Christ meant when He declared,

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Don’t get me wrong: True love is comforting. It is magnificent and beautiful, heart-opening and heart-warming.

But only when we let it in. Until we open our hearts and let it in, it terrifies us. More precisely, it terrifies our ego.

Love terrifies the ego

Our ego thrives on judgment, blame, and shame. It loves propping ourselves up by tearing others down. It loves to keep us hostage in our boxes of self-deception and self-delusion, seeing only the bad in other people and only the good in ourselves.

The sword of true love poses a clear and immediate danger to our ego.

(To cut through your ego to find your true self, click here to download my free toolkit now.)

The human ego has constructed a paradigm wherein there are “good” people and “bad” people. The good people are praised and rewarded, the bad people are condemned and punished.

Our ego loves dividing people up by these black-and-white lines in order to justify our own wrongdoing. It sees other people as bad and ourselves as good. We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior.

In ego mode, we create enemy images of others and focus all our pain, anger, hatred, frustration, and resentment on our enemies.

True love sees the deeper truths: All human beings, without exception, are fundamentally good. We engage in destructive behavior not because we are evil, but because we have unmet needs and we are ignorant and unskillful at meeting our needs.

True love looks like a fierce and terrifying sword to the ego because it slashes through our self-deception, pierces our rationalizations.

If the quote is true, it means that we can have no enemies. We can no longer see anyone as an enemy with evil intentions, but rather as a suffering soul trying to meet needs.

True love does not rationalize destructive behavior, but it does explain it clearly and truthfully, without making anyone evil or an enemy.

The ultimate choice: to love or not to love

If the quote is true, it means the only choice we have is to forgive those who have wronged and wounded us — even at the extremes. It means that we must see in their hurtful behavior the hidden call for love.

It also gives us permission to forgive ourselves for all our regrets and sources of shame. (This is another reason why the ego resists the quote; it thrives on self-shame.)

What this quote means is this: Anything we have ever done wrong in our life isn’t because we’re bad people with evil natures, but rather we are fundamentally good, albeit delusional, people crying out for love.

And so is everyone we’ve ever perceived to be an enemy.

Yes, I know. Heavy, shudder-inducing ideas.

They back us into a corner and force us to choose: Will we cling to the ego and justify judging, blaming, shaming, hating, and harboring resentment? Or will we surrender the ego and forgive and love?

I’ll admit I’m still on the fence. And that damn quote won’t stop haunting me:

“Every action is either an expression of love or a call for love.”

(For tools to surrender the ego to find your true self, click here to download my free toolkit now.)

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