29. For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union.
30. This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.
Love is the law, love under will.
— Liber AL vel Legis, The Book of the Law
I have a natural reverence for the sacred. There are certain sacred sites that automatically makes me lower my voice a bit, makes me reach mentally and energetically for something beyond myself. I feel the same way out in nature in general, especially in redwood groves (nature’s cathedrals!). It’s easy to feel reverent, to be filled with awe and love, in places that are obviously filled with divinity, places where lots of other people have spent time communing with deity.
That said, as a panentheistic pagan, I believe that the entire fabric of the universe is part of the divine — there is no thing which is not of God Herself. It’s important to me to remember that everything is sacred. Every atom in existence is a part of God Herself. Every place is as sacred as a redwood grove, as a circle of standing stones, as a blessed spring. Every person is God Herself made manifest — even people I don’t like.
It’s amazing how much more clear right action becomes when I keep that in mind. How can I be horrible or hateful to someone if I remember that they are sacred? How can I support a company that treats its workers badly? Those workers are sacred. I wouldn’t support a company that, say, damages churches, so how can I support one that damages its workers, who are no less divine?
I don’t believe a person’s actions are automatically sacred, just because I believe all people are sacred. When we become disconnected from each other, when we forget that love is the law, we do harm. It’s important to me to prevent as much harm as I reasonably can — without doing more harm myself. That’s why I study Aikido instead of one of the many other martial arts out there. Aikido is the Way of Harmony, the way of Love. In Aikido we are taught that to harm our attacker is essentially harming ourself. Our goal is always to end conflict without harming anybody. If harm is necessary, we try to keep it to a minimum (if you examine most Aikido techniques, you will find that they tend to do irreversible damage to joints, thus disabling a person but not killing them. If an Aikidoka puts you down, you stay down, and likely won’t be able to attack someone else in the future, either).
This isn’t easy, of course. Once we learn as infants that we are separate from the world around us, once we take that duality to heart, it’s very, very difficult to get that nondualist worldview back. It’s tempting to yell at other drivers, to gossip behind people’s backs, to be cruel to others. It makes the monsters in our heads feel better, to borrow a concept from the inimitable Havi Brooks.
But we are all connected, and when I remember that connection, I remember love. I remember to love, to love everyone. (Sound familiar? A lot of major religions have commandments to love other people.) If I love everyone with the fierce compassion I was talking about before, that’s really the only guide I need. Love is easily one of the simplest guidelines out there, and that’s why it’s one of m y core values.
Love is the law, after all.
Of course, the other half of that is, “love under will” — and Will is what I’ll be talking about in my next post. So stay tuned.