My friends would argue that when I see suffering, I move immediately to relieve the suffering. What they don't see is that, I don't commiserate, I don't get into empathy. I don't usually feel anything. I just want to give relief. Is that love?
Actually, if it is love, I certainly don't regard it as such. To me, it is simply the right thing to do. If I am a witness to pain and I have the means to provide relief, it is my moral obligation to do so. I suppose some can argue that it is love, if not compassion, which is love in action. But, if you look at my definition of love, I said love is a total and unconditional acceptance of someone or something. In a situation where suffering calls for action, there is not a question of whether or not I “accept” the victim. Perhaps, it is implied but, not in my mind. Once I have fulfilled my moral obligation, I may never interact with the individual again.
On the other hand, perhaps I do actually “love” people, but I simply do not associate any feeling with it. Perhaps, deep down somewhere I experience compassion but it never surfaces to a conscious level. I simply do not know at this point.
I just completed reading Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach a few days ago. Yeah, I know. It's about time, right? Its a good read, witty, and thought provoking. As I finished it, I set it on my desk, and sat back thinking, “And organized religion simply continues to persecute and murder their 'messiahs'.” One line that stands out in my mind is when the Donald Shimoda (a messiah) informs Richard (messiah in training) that people don't give a rip about the wisdom or the message that a messiah brings. They just come to see the miracles. I tend to believe that is just too true based on my experience with organized religions. Everyone wants a show. Oh, well.
But I'm back to non-fiction. I am reading How to Expand Love by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It doesn't take long to run into little jewels of wisdom when reading anything by the Dalai Lama. Here it is:
This is my simple religion. No need for temples. No need for complicated philosophy. Your own mind, your own heart, is the temple; your philosophy is simple kindness. (Dalai Lama, How to Expand Love, page 6)
I am expecting this book to open some doors in my thinking and eventually bring on some heart changes.