It is not enough for us to say: ‘I love God,’ but I also have to love my neighbor. St. John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you don’t love your neighbor. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? And so it is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is not true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.” – Mother Teresa
I am familiar with love and with pain; and when I have felt pain, while loving, the pain was never caused by the act of loving, it was caused by the actions of the ones I loved. To me, it is like a hose – the faucet is turned on, the hose fills up and the water pours out. And so the process is like this, one’s being is filled with love – so filled that it must be released out towards another being, towards God, or even towards nature itself. Still, it is a filling up of the heart and soul with love and so long as that love is being released, the vessel is being constantly filled. Being filled with love leaves no room for pain. I recall a story that Wayne Dyer told about a woman with a disabled daughter, totally bedridden for many years, and for all of those years the mother lovingly stayed by her side, changing her diaper, feeding her, loving her. She did this without it hurting, other than perhaps the empathy that she felt for her daughter. After being moved by the enormous suffering of Mother Teresa I went back over the things that she had said, and I cannot imagine an instance where love hurts.
The act of giving does not hurt either. Again, giving is a gesture from the heart. What does hurt is when we do not give from our hearts but we give because we feel we must. In doing this, we are not giving in essence we are taking from ourselves. Another quote from Mother Teresa which stood out to me was this:
“I try to give to the poor people for love what the rich could get for money. No, I wouldn’t touch a leper for a thousand pounds; yet I willingly cure him for the love of God.”
I was never much on placing importance on the death of Jesus, but I was deeply inspired by his life. I don’t believe that the value of a life should be overshadowed by the manner of death. After all, no matter how you cut it, living takes a lot more work than dying, and living an exemplary life, at any time, trumps an exemplary death. I read a bumper sticker the other day that really brought the point home, it said, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you are car.” In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus’ followers asked him, basically, how to get to Heaven, a question he never seemed to answer to the satisfaction of the questioner.
. His disciples asked and said to him: “Do you want us to fast? How shall we pray, how shall we give alms, what rules concerning eating shall we follow?” Jesus says: “Tell no lie, and whatever you hate, do not do: for all these things are manifest to the face of heaven; nothing hidden will fail to be revealed and nothing disguised will fail before long to be made public!”
When I was young, I was given the impression that I was not really capable of amounting to anything in the world. So, when I became successful in my own business I bought many very expensive things, jewelry, art – things that said I had made it. These were my trophies that I told myself I would never let go of, they proved my ability to succeed. But as my life would have it, my health caused me to leave my business and it reached a point in my life that to keep a roof over the heads of my children, I would have to sell my trophies. They were the only proof that I had left. While I was struggling with this I read a book on the Kabala and it said that we should gather everything that we believe that we can live without in order to give it away, but then, after we have gathered everything that we feel we can manage without we should then double it and give it away. The essence of it was that only the ego attaches to things, only the ego benefits from things, and not the soul. This allowed me to ‘give’ those things for the good of my family without pain, because I knew that in doing so I was purging my ego. My husband, feeling badly for the sacrifice that I had made promised to replace all that I had given, but I did not want them back, giving it opened my heart and freed my ego, I felt gratitude and joy.
Using the parable of the seeds as an example, the things that we do so that God will know our love for Him, are the seeds that fall by the wayside. They are a lie, the heart is not in the action itself. For Mother Teresa to see a leper and feel to herself that she wouldn’t touch him for a thousand pounds, says that in the depth of her heart she does not see Jesus in that leper. The act of curing that leper is an act of doing what you should do, like fasting or going to church, but it is not heartfelt and so the heart derives no joy from the act, in fact, it causes pain because of the feeling of uselessness of the sacrifice. To sacrifice is to make sacred, but only the heart can make sacred.
In Mother Teresa’s youth she was filled with an ecstatic love for Jesus and for the work that he did in his life. She was filled with the spirit of Christianity, but the church robbed her of that. The church robbed her of the loving Jesus, the joyous Jesus, the Jesus free of ego attachments and laws, filled only with the desire to Love, teach and heal his brothers. The church forced her to believe that only through suffering could she find the love of Jesus, only through suffering would she feel the love of Jesus, and worst of all, that only through teaching the value of suffering to others could she save their souls for Jesus. The teachings of the church were in direct contradiction to the yearnings of her heart, and because she believed the church to be the appointed messenger of God, she deafened her heart to its cries, and dedicated herself to the work, but without the spirit in the work, without the love in the work, she was empty and alone, not seeing God and not feeling his Love. She loved Jesus, but she could not feel his love because she was indoctrinated only towards his suffering. There are many Saints who are marked by their “Dark Night Of The Soul”, but each one emerged with a greater sense of mysticism and spirituality and a far lesser sense of righteousness of religious doctrine.
She gave her life to the God that she loved, but she was denied the fullness of His love in her heart, not by God but by the church that taught not the beauty and joy of love, but only the vows of suffering. I feel that it is a crime for her suffering to be used by atheists as proof that there is no God, but I believe equally that it is a crime for the church to use her suffering as an example of the natural path of a true Christian.