The following will be very difficult to read and accept if you have not completed your search of your heart, mind, and soul. As you read please do not reject what is said. Complete your search, know and understand true, pure, real, love, before you make your choices. Take all the time you need, days, weeks, months, years, to search your heart, mind, and soul to know and understand love. Search your very being, until you know and understand what it means to love everyone with true, pure, real, love.
If you understand love you know loving does not require you to mechanically follow a set pattern of “right” actions. You know instead that if you love you will do the best you can in every situation, even if you cannot determine what the real solution is. If you love you do your best, and doing your best is something you can always do. Doing your best simply requires that which you are capable of, nothing more.
This does not mean loving is any easier because you do not have to know what the “correct” answer is. On the contrary, to say love requires you to do your best is to say that love requires of you all you have to give. Love requires everything you can give, your total effort. By requiring only that which you are capable of giving, it is always your choice whether you love or don’t love. If you understand love you know it is your choice and your choice alone, to love or not to love. It is a profound responsibility to be able, every moment of your life, to love or not to love.
If you love another human being you are giving that human being your very best. If you love every human being you are doing the very best you can do for each of them. Similarly, if they love you they are doing the very best they can for you. It is not hard to see that a world where each and every person loves each and every other person would be the best possible world.
Since each of us can love if and when we want to love, a world filled with love is very much a possibility. Pure love is so rare a quantity in daily life it may seem almost impossible that, if they are willing, people can love all other people. Yet they can. We can bring about a world filled with love, a world that is worth living for.
Few seriously expect to see a day on earth when all people love one another. There are too many people for whom physical pleasure is more desirable than love. Only the most optimistic hold hope for a world filled with love. So, what is the next best world?
If you understand love you know you can love people even if they do not love you. You can always choose to love, and if love is the best you can do, does it not seem true that you should love even if you are not loved? Does it not seem true that you should always choose love?
If life ends with physical death, perhaps the proper response to hate would not be love but would be some form of resistance to hate that minimizes its influence on others. Yet that cannot be true if our conclusions are correct. We have already explained why we believe that if existence ends with physical death the “nothing” that would follow death would cause any response to be as if it never was. What if life continues after death, would it matter what we do when faced with hate?
If life exists beyond the grave, and if love is the best part of life in this world, does it not seem intuitively likely that if life after death is to be good it will be an existence filled with love? Of course we are dealing with questions beyond human ability to answer, we are in fact in the murky area where intellect, insight, and intuition blend with belief and faith. There is no way at all we can say anything concrete about what life after death may or may not be like. Yet there exists a “feeling” that at least a portion of whatever lies beyond the grave, if anything, possesses the positive characteristics of life in this world. If we come to believe the most positive aspect of life is love, then it somehow seems intuitively true that if those who choose to love on earth enter a life after death, it will be a life that is filled with love.
So, what is our answer? Who should you love? If loving is good, the question really becomes is there anyone you should not love? If you understand love you know you can always love someone even if the person you love hates you. When you hate those who hate you, you are doing the same wrong to them they are doing to you. The natural reaction is to hate those who hate you, yet if you understand love you should, after deep thought and consideration, reach the conclusion that since you never have to hate, you should always love (in our books we discuss if we should love someone who has totally rejected love).
What if the person who hates you continues to hate you, and does all kinds of evil to you and to others without sign of remorse? Again, if you understand love you know you can always love another person even if that person hates you. If we agree that the best we can do in this life, and in a life after death if one exists, is to love each other, the answer seems clear. If it is your choice to love or not, you should choose to love every moment of your earthly life. That means you should love even if you are not loved, even if you are hated.
If love is worth living for in this life, it is worth living for in whatever life may follow death. If it is possible that we continue to exist after death, it would seem that we should love now with the hope that when we die we will pass into a life where love will not only continue, but will be shared by all who join us there.
Loving someone does not mean you should support the wrongs they do. Many people who love others and try to help them out of problems like gambling, drinking, casual sex, etc., find themselves defending the other person and slipping into their way of life. There is a fine line between being with people and loving and helping them, and, in an attempt to reach them, accepting at least part of their way of life. If at all times you keep in your heart, mind, and soul what it means to truly love, you will have no trouble knowing where that line is.
If you choose to love, you will constantly have to decide what you should do in particular situations. The natural tendency is to take a middle of the road position that seems to be positive toward everyone involved without being too negative toward yourself. You then declare that your decision is based on love, and all seems well. Loving is not that easy, every single decision about love must be made from your heart, mind, and soul.
If you want to love you must search your very being for the answers love requires, and you must be willing to accept without change the answers you find. You are driving home from work, heading for a birthday party your spouse and friends have been planning for you. Traffic is heavy on the highway. You see a man hitchhiking, he seems unsure of his footing, as you get closer you can tell he is drunk. If you stop you are sure to be late for your party, anyway, there are lots of cars one of which is bound to pick him up, and he doesn’t look like he will stagger into the roadway.
You think, “he may be pretending to be drunk so he can rob somebody, a policeman is bound to drive by, I can call one on my mobile phone”. Time to decide what to do. You want to drive on by him and not have to decide, but you know you have to stop or not stop. You stop your car, help the man into the passenger seat, he mumbles the town he is going to and then passes out. You try to call your spouse but get the answering machine. When you reach the right exit, you get off and try to rouse your passenger. He gets sick and throws up, you stop to let him get some air and to clean out the car.
You’re forty minutes late for your party, and your spouse is still not answering. You think about leaving him at a gas station, but you help him back in the car and go on. He sees a bar, yells for you to stop, and curses you when you don’t. You arrive in his hometown, but he is too drunk to remember where he lives. You find a motel, get the hitchhiker a room, and pay the desk clerk to look in on him to see he is all right and to bring him breakfast the next morning. You buy him some clean clothes and put them in the room.
You call home, your spouse answers and then slams the phone down. Finally you arrive home three hours late, your guests have gone, your spouse and kids are mad, you are hungry and cold. You think about all the hassle you went through; the party you missed, your party; the drunk hitchhiker cursing you. You think, I hope I never get into another situation like this one, but if I do, I’ll do it all over again. If you have not completed your search you may not understand the love given the hitchhiker. If you have, you know that if you choose love you would do the same things the driver did.
If you love someone, whether they are your child or a stranger, you will do the very best you can for them. If you love someone you will do the best you can, every moment of your life, even if it means that you do not have enough to meet your own needs. You will have compassion for every human being who does not have enough to eat, and you will invite them to eat with you.
You will care for those who are sick until they get well. If you meet someone who is homeless, you will find shelter for them. You will spend time with those who are lonely, and you will listen to their problems. You will help them not because it makes you feel good, but because you love them. You will give them the love that is in your heart, mind, and soul.
Sit back, and think and think and think about loving people with true, pure, real, love. Take all the time you need to feel and experience the love inside you that you can give to all people. Complete your search of your heart, mind, and soul and know and understand love.
You choose love, that means everything is all right, right? In a very real sense the answer to that question is yes, for you everything is all right. Everything being all right does not, however, mean that your life on earth will be physically better. Probably it will get much worse, for those who choose not to love will be doubly hard on those who do.
If you love someone you will not hit them when they strike you. You will give them food, and drink, and shelter even if they hate you and even if you end up not having enough for yourself. If you love them you will help them when they are sick, even if they have cheated you and cursed your stupidity. You will love them no matter what they do to you, with the knowledge that you are doing what all human beings can and should do.
What if the choice comes whether to kill someone, or be killed by them? I cannot see how someone could choose to intentionally kill someone they love. Let me simply say it seems to me that if you continue to exist after death, and if it is true that if you love someone you will never kill them, then you have nothing to fear if because you love you die and enter an existence filled with love.
You never “have” to commit any violent act against another, it is always your choice to do so or not. If love requires rejection of all violence against another human being, as I believe it does, those who understand love should understand it is worth enduring pain in this life if accepting such pain leads to love, both now and in whatever existence follows death. Death followed by a joyful eternal life of love, day after day, year after year, millions of years after millions of years, forever and ever and ever and ever, seems far superior to a pleasant life followed by a loveless eternity. We need to remember that no matter how hard we try to avoid our inevitable deaths, the fact is that we live lives that are no more than single grains among the infinite sands of time (additional comments can be found in the Appendix - A Fanatic Life or a Normal Life?, and in our other book).
If love is right, even one decision not to love is wrong. When you complete your search perhaps you may not agree with us that you will never inflict physical harm on someone you love. The answer you find to this question, and other questions less dramatic but as hard or harder to answer, is to be found in your knowledge and understanding of love. After you have completed your search, and know and understand love, you will have to decide for yourself whether or not our answer to the question about killing, as well as our answers to the many other difficult questions, are based on love, or not. We believe they are, but perhaps they are not.
We believe that after you complete your search of heart, mind, and soul you will know and understand that if anything is true, it is true that every moment of their lives each and every human being can and should love each and every other human being. Indeed, if every person chose to love every other person as they would have those people love them, if every person chose to love every other person as himself or herself, then each of us would do the very best that we could do for every human being in the world. There would be nothing more that we should do for each other, nothing more that we could do.
One essential warning, when faced with a hard question the normal human response is toward self-interest, with elaborate arguments to justify the answer and make it seem to be the result of love. The answer dictated by love is often (for some people almost always) very, very, hard to accept. Yet I am convinced that if you choose love you will accept the toughest of answers, and will find peace and hope in your decisions. At all times you must be absolutely certain that your answers are based on the knowledge and understanding of love you find in your heart, mind, and soul. You must be certain that you always choose true, pure, real, love.
Each moment of hate is a moment when you could have chosen love. If love is best, what could possibly be better than choosing to love every moment of your earthly life?
We have said you can choose to love any time you want to. This is true no matter what you have done in the past, and only requires that you want to love now. If you decide to love, what can you do about your past?
The only thing that can be done is that you can be forgiven for having not loved. If you understand love, you know that if you love someone you will forgive them the wrongs they have done to you. Think carefully about love and forgiveness, and you will understand that if you love someone you will always and repeatedly and truly forgive them for having not loved you. If you love someone you will forgive them for everything they do to you and to other people.
The murderer who admits his wrong and seeks forgiveness is perhaps better off than the cheat who denies he has done anything wrong and rejects any thoughts about needing forgiveness. If we have all done wrong, and if those who love forgive, should we not quit trying to keep score of each person’s wrongs and forgive them? If you love people, you will forgive them. No matter how many times they may ask you to forgive them, if they seek your forgiveness and you love them, you will forgive them.
What about those people who don’t want forgiveness? If you have completed your search and know and understand love, you know and understand that if someone is your enemy and hates you, you can and should love them. If you love people who hate you and do not want forgiveness, you will love them and do good to them with the hope that they will choose to love you and seek forgiveness. You can and should love both those who love you and seek forgiveness, and those who hate you and do not seek forgiveness. To love those who hate you and who laugh at your forgiveness is perhaps the greatest test of your desire to love.