Tag Archives: Agape

You Get What You Give

 

Ego believes that by giving one loses what is given. That is why ego is so quick to pass judgment and offer guilt. The reasoning goes that when guilt is dealt it passes from the accuser to the accused. Ego believes that making others guilty cleanses one of one’s own guilt. It projects hate in an effort to purge hate.

At bottom the ego’s motivation is based on fear. Fear of judgment, guilt, shame, blame – all forms of attack. The ego’s automatic form of defense is attack. It reasons that the more it attacks the less liable to attack it becomes.  What it gives, it loses.

But a clear, objective look will reveal that the ego’s law is reversed. In reality, one gets what one gives. The more one attacks the more attack one attracts. The more guilt one dishes the more guilt one takes on. The more one judges the more shall one be judged.

This vicious cycle can be revealed and reversed. If one can manage to separate from the ego sufficiently to view it objectively, fear is manifest. And in the process fear is evaporated. What makes that exposure possible is fear’s opposite. In its presence fear cannot co-exist, just as darkness cannot co-exist in the presence of light. Its fundamental law is the precise opposite of the ego’s ‘you lose what you give.’

For some moments disregard the ego’s impulse to project guilt and replace it with an effort to extend love. Begin with contemplation of objects of love that are easy for you – your child, your sibling, your best friend, your spouse, etc. Then make a conscious effort to extend it even to those whom you believe you hate.  Go easy at first. Extend it to someone or something you have been more neutral about. Then extend it to someone or something you have loved but you haven’t been feeling so loving about lately. Just as ego’s attacks attract attacks, you will find that love’s extension attracts love.

At any time while you extend love you are liable to get an impulse to attack – an urge to attack anything, even an attack thought at yourself. There is your opportunity to have an objective look at ego. And by simply recognizing it as such, as something separate and apart from you, and carrying on with extending love you are on the road to reversing the ego’s vicious cycle.

Because the ego and ego—driven societal information channels have so cleverly co-opted the concept of love for attack purposes and justification, a point of clarification is offered. Martin Luther King provided clarity on the subject in A Stride Toward Freedom (May 1958):

“In speaking of love at this point, we are not referring to some sentimental or affectionate emotion. It would be nonsense to urge men to love their oppressors in an affectionate sense. Love in this connection means understanding, redemptive good will. When we speak of loving those who oppose us, we refer to neither eros nor philia; we speak of a love which is expressed in the Greek word agape. Agape means understanding, redeeming  good will for all men. It is an overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless, and creative. It is not set in motion by any quality or function of its object. It is the love of God operating in the human heart.

“Agape is disinterested love. It is a love in which the individual seeks not his own good, but the good of his neighbor (1 Cor. 10:24). Agape does not begin by discriminating between worthy and unworthy people, or any qualities people possess. It begins by loving others for their sakes. It is entirely “neighbor-regarding concern for others,” which discovers the neighbor in every man it meets. Therefore, agape makes no distinction between friends and enemy; it is directed toward both. If one loves an individual merely on account of his friendliness, he loves him for the sake of the benefits to be gained from the friendship, rather than for the friend’s own sake. Consequently, the best way to assure oneself that love is disinterested is to have love for the enemy-neighbor from whom you can expect no good in return, but only hostility and persecution.

“Another basic point about agape is that it springs from the need of the other person – his need for belonging to the best of the human family. The Samaratin who helped the Jew on the Jericho Road was “good” because he responded to the human need that he was presented with. God’s love is eternal and fails not because man needs his love. Saint Paul assures us that the loving act of redemption was done “while we were yet sinners” – that is, at the point of our greatest need for love. Since the white man’s personality is greatly distorted by segregation, and his soul is greatly scarred, he needs the love of the Negro. The Negro must love the white man, because the white man needs his love to remove his tensions, insecurities, and fears.”

If you practice this, at some point love’s law will become apparent, you get what you give. And you will find that you have that much more to give.