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I believe that everyone wants the same things out of life: to love and be loved.
Who doesn’t want that deep down?
But is it all that clear on how to get this love?
I was raised in St. Louis, Missouri—the Midwest, the heartland of America. I had a relatively normal childhood. Of course, we went to church every Sunday, but I didn’t really believe in God. I could take it or leave it.
I had a difficult time adjusting to the transition from adolescence to adulthood. I dropped out of college due to a failed dream of being a wrestler. This was during the time of the civil rights movement, the hippies, the assassination of the Kennedy brothers and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Vietnam War.
With all of this social and political unrest, combined with my personal failures, I felt aimless, without a purpose in life, and unhappy. But I knew I didn’t want to part of the establishment. I didn’t really have a plan for my life.
I began seeking more, which led me to try pot and LSD. During this time, I deeply hurt my parents and loved ones, because I left home to travel around the country without any word back to them. When I realized I had broken their hearts, I saw for the first time how easy it is to hurt another. I knew I never wanted to be that way again.
From then on, I cultivated mindfulness to send good, loving vibes to others.
I had some buddies who mentioned that I should try yoga. I didn’t know what yoga was, but they said that it gives one peace, and that I would like it, so I decided to try it.
Because of my experiences with yoga and LSD, I had also began to believe in God. In yoga, God is seen as a universal presence that is all-encompassing. This view of God really resonated with me. Anyone can cultivate love for a higher power, no matter what their religious background. The yogis believe that to become closer to and experience God, we have to practice stilling the mind. This is what I sought to do back in the 1960s, and what I am still seeking to do in the here and now.
I believe that in order to have happiness, we have to have a sense of purpose and cultivate a higher love and a love for others.
At least, this is what’s working for me, and it is a work in progress.
Jesus said that the most important thing in this life is to love God with all of our hearts, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Even though I’m not Christian, I do believe that these two ideas are the highest teachings that have been given to humankind from any of the world’s religions or spiritual teachings.
It is something that should be cultivated and practiced every day.
This is easier said than done however, so I ask for God’s help. Here’s what I do on a daily basis:
When I sit down to pray and meditate, I make the internal sound of Om and then I focus on my third eye point. I ask God to give me kindness and to teach me how to love others. I believe that anyone can do this, no matter their religious background—even a person who doesn’t believe in God can cultivate kindness and love of others.
Like I said, I am not Christian, but I do love some of the Biblical scriptures. I see them as universal laws and as promises that we can all practice. It helps me to remember the following well-known scripture, “Ask, and you shall receive; seek, and you shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:7)
There is another practice that I use, called, “To practice the presence of God.”
It is based on the idea that God is a universal being. God is in everything; everything is in God; God is everything. I practice searching for God in every person I meet, in everything that happens, and in everything I do, however mundane or routine.
I invite you to join me in this practice. It may seem too daunting or impossible to love God (or whatever higher power you choose) with all of our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves, but if we love God a little more today than we did yesterday, if we love our neighbors a little more, that is a step in the right direction.
Let’s all take baby steps together, and practice this every day. Stop reading for a few moments. Close your eyes and ask for kindness; ask to be taught how to love.
Most of us know the feeling of love, but what is love really?
Most of the time, we associate our feelings of love with someone or something, like our children, parents, friends, or even material possessions.
However, they will pass away from us or us from them, leaving us without our object of love. This can cause great suffering as we all know. This type of love can also be contaminated with feelings of possessiveness and insecurity—for example, expecting something in return, or conditional love.
The love that we all (sometimes subconsciously) strive for is universal and all-encompassing, eternal. It is all around us, always here and now, but it is invisible, so we have to train ourselves to recognize it. Most of us don’t know how to find it.
If we lose a loved one, we can be devastated, thinking we will never find love again, that love is lost forever. Some people grieve for the rest of their lives, never finding happiness again, living a life of misery.
There is hope, though, for all of us.
I feel good in my heart center during my everyday life—because I have practiced consistently. There may not be fireworks, but I just feel good about being alive. Don’t we all want to feel this? We can all cultivate that kind of love, which is right here and now.
I’d like to end on a personal note about something beautiful and unexpected that happened to me today—something that helped me believe even more in the power of love. While I was in a restaurant, I saw a little girl, about two or three years old. She, her mother, and her grandmother were leaving, and I waved goodbye to her. She waved back to me with her lovely smile, and she blew me a kiss. This totally made my day!
May we all believe in love, and may we receive it.
Even though we might be a thousand miles apart, may we feel our love for one another here and now.
And may this love be a real, true feeling that we can always tap into.
I believe that our lives on this planet are a gift from God. It is a golden opportunity to cultivate the love of God, to enter a world of spiritual happiness and harmony beyond our wildest dreams.