I absolutely understand the necessity of starting with one’s Self if one wishes to extend unity and love outward.
If that’s one’s aim, there doesn’t seem to be an alternative to establishing the firm foundation of loving all parts of ourselves, it seems to me.
Certainly, we know the Self to be the object of all spiritual paths. Our ultimate assignment is to know ourselves, as masters have said throughout the ages. Knowing our Self, we see that we’re none other than God – all of us. Since God is everything there is, not one of us could possibly be other than the One God.
Jesus: I am [the Self is] the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (1)
Al-Ghazzali: Knowledge of self is the key to knowledge of God, according to the saying: “He who knows himself knows God.” (2)
St. Catherine of Genoa: My Me is God, nor do I recognize any other Me except my God Himself. (3)
Though I’ve known this since forever, and though the path of awareness focuses on the Self, it’s still being brought home to me more deeply now than it has ever been.
That being so, I’m spending more time each day following practices designed to have me know and love myself.
There are several ways I’m doing this.
The first is expressing forgiveness, love, and trust of myself to myself.
I imagine my higher Self expressing them to my lower personality. As that higher Self, I forgive my personality all imperfections and mistakes and invite the latter to come into the present moment, the only doorway to Reality.
Or my higher Self expresses his love for the personality, to ignite the latter’s own loving feelings.
Or my higher Self expresses his trust in and for the personality, in order to ignite confidence and courage. But not the false confidence of arrogance; the true confidence of love and compassion, which has always already been inside us.
A second practice I’m following is calling all aspects of myself to return to me. The warrior, the sacred geometrician, the monastic. I’ve asked each to contribute their soul knowledge and open heart to me.
A third practice is following the breath to where it originates and then breathing out again the love that arises in me. The waves of breath come in; the waves of love go out.
“The kingdom of heaven is within you,” Jesus said. (4) Carried on the waves of love, I’m irresistibly drawn inward.
And the peace and love that results from this inward journey I send out to the world again.
In the course of this, I’m seeing that what creates unity in anything – the self, the group, the world – is universal love. Unity is a function of universal love. Now that’s a challenge for me. I don’t feel universal love at this moment, though I’ve known it on occasion.
To feel it, what seems needed is the courage to drop everything I’ve ever done, ever learned, and ever wanted, to simply surrender to the love newly, moment by moment.
But now the love is calling me and I’m drawn inward again, letting go of awareness of the outer world.
(1) Jesus in John 14:6.
(2) Al-Ghazzali, The Alchemy of Happiness. trans. Claud Field. Lahore: ASHRAF, 1971; c1964, 19.
(3) St Catherine of Genoa in Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy. New York, etc.: Harper and Row, 1970; c1944, 11.
(4) Luke 17: 21.