There’s only fear and love

I gingerly admit it: this is probably the most overtly spiritual post I’ve ever written. Try it out. And join me in wondering: What IS fear? What IS love?

 

There’s only fear and love.

That’s the theory

In other words, all emotions are underpinned by one or other energy. Jealousy? = Fear. Peace? =Love. Anger? =Fear. Fear? =Fear. Stress? = Fear. Impatience? =Fear. Hope? =Love. Tenderness? =Love. You get the picture.

Fear and love

Fear and Love. Laura Lloyd 2015

Does it work?

Well, it certainly makes life simpler. It has helped me in moments of decision-making. I’ve noticed when I’m panicking, I can stop and think: Am I in a state of fear right now?

Sometimes the decision-making is clouded by self-doubt, for example. Or there’s pressure on the decision-making from catastrophic, or at least categorical, thoughts like: “What if this is the last opportunity I’ll get to…” Sometimes the decision-making is held up by fear of the unknown (“I want to buy this plot of land, but I don’t know how I’ll afford to build the house on it later” – that’s a real example from my world). Well, that’s all fear. So what about love?

Rather than making the decision from a place of anxiety, I’ve waited for the clouds to part, and made it from a place of peace or love instead. Loving yourself instead of doubting yourself. Trusting in the future rather than trying to create safety-nets. Loving the nuanced detail of life rather than getting all extreme and dramatic about possibility and impossibility.

And it works. I mean, it means I’m much much more sure then, that I’m doing the right thing.

This isn’t my invention

No no no. I’m not an inventor of spiritual guidelines.

I first came across this idea in Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love. It’s an intriguing and utterly bonkers book about setting aside your egotistical struggles and focusing on love in your life instead.

It describes her life’s transformation as a result of her studying A Course in Miracles, which is itself a much much much more bonkers year-long spiritual study course – if you’re very open-minded you might believe it’s divinely inspired genius (the author believed it was dictated to her by Jesus Christ himself).

Spiritual journeying for me is all about finding the right language that speaks to me

I wouldn’t know if A Course in Miracles is life-changing – I only read a couple of chapters before getting religious terminology overload. And actually that was what has brought me repeatedly back to A Return to Love too – the attempt to crack its code.

It’s a great challenge for me. God, soul, holy spirit and most importantly, ‘love’ – what does it actually mean? But Williamson’s transformation is compelling, and it makes you want to decipher what she’s discovered.

Here’s my glossary

What I love about A Return to Love is Williamson’s idiosyncratic interpretation of Christian language, although she claims to be pantheistically spiritual. It’s pretty audacious, but it does give me a sense of understanding and accord with my Christian friends. Would they agree with her usage? Not sure. I’ve always found Christian language hard to reconcile and confusing. This has opened it up.

For example, here are some of those semantics that I actually make Christian terminology more accessible to atheistic old me personally:

  • Fear is the noise the ego generates. She uses that word: ‘ego’ that’s cool, huh? It’s in your mind, and therefore it’s ‘not real’ – just thoughts – it’s “a hallucination“. (I get that, anxiety is like watching a scary film).
  • A Christian word for this fear is ‘sin‘. When you believe it and identify with it, you’re in Hell. (Yep, it is deeply and viscerally horrible).
  • Only love is real, she says, and the Course in Miracles says. So a definition of love would be that it’s what you feel when all the bullshit quiets. Fear is a hallucination. (I agree with this in that I believe that your heart and soul – the bits of you that is ‘being’, the blue sky when you see between the clouds of thought – are the real ‘you’ and as Mindfulness so usefully shows us, your thoughts are not).
  • Love is from the heart, and has its own energy, its own momentum, aka Holy Spirit. (I like the  idea that love is something that flows and can make Gaia-like ripples in the universe)
  • God‘ just means love. It is literally another word for love. Underneath the noise of fear, we are already made of love (we just can’t always hear it), so you get to the love by getting quiet and not getting sucked into your fear.
  • Miracles‘ are small acts that bring you back to a place of love. A miracle is a shift in perception. An insight that shifts you out of the ego-driven fear and into the heart-wellspring of love.

The Mindfulness perspective

Another way to look at this is that actually most ‘thought’ is fear. Spaciousness, that sense of Being and of the heart opening that happen when you don’t stumble on the tripwires of thought, are love.

Mindfulness doesn’t use the word love much. It talks more about ‘clarity’.

Presence, of course, is the antidote to most fear. Most fear is about predicting and protecting, whereas in the present moment, you are usually alright. So if nothing else, remembering to stop trying to control everything – especially the future – and to be in the present, and breathe, until you see your thoughts rolling through the stormy sky of your mind, is the only shift in perception that’s needed.

Give over your worries, release them (same as surrendering them to God/letting the Universe take care of things?), or just ‘see’ that they are just thought and wait for them to subside.

You can do this formally by meditating. Or you can just cultivate these moments your own way too.

The Untethered Soul

I finally read this fabulous book by Michael A Singer, in the couple of peaceful days I was in hospital right after giving birth to my third daughter.

He spends a chapter describing how involved our attempts at self-protection are (protection from our unwanted emotions) by telling a fictional story about someone going to outrageous lengths to protect themselves from a thorn.

And the solution?

Train yourself to relax and release in the face of emotional pain, rather than contracting around it, getting tense and trying to fix it externally.

Singer combines ways of speaking about fear (the mind’s attempts to deal with pain) and love, by drawing on diverse spiritual traditions.

And here’s another piece of key language: ‘energy’

“If you find that your loved one didn’t do anything wrong, or if they apologise to your satisfaction, your heart opens again. With this opening you get a filled with energy and the love starts flowing again.

“You have a wellspring of beautiful energy inside you. When you open you feel it; when you are closed you don’t. This well of energy comes from the depth of your being. It’s been called by many names. In Chinese medicine, it is called Chi. In yoga, it is called Shakti. In the West, it is called Spirit. Call it anything you want. All the great spiritual traditions talk about your spiritual energy; they just give it different names. That spiritual energy is what you’re experiencing when love rushes up into your heart.”

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Try it out. Let me know in the comments boxes below.