Self Love

What does it mean to love myself? I’ve noticed that there seem to be two different forms of human love, in broad terms. Erotic love is the first, and it means possessive love. This includes but is not limited to sexual love; any form of love that is rooted in desire for possession of an object of love can be grouped under the heading of Eros. More forms of love than we might like to admit can be found in this category. The second form of love is what I think of as charitable love; a love rooted in giving. It’s the opposite of erotic love, in a sense. Charity is divine love. (But isn’t Eros also a form of divine love? A tangent for another time…)
What I’ve noticed is that, when it comes to self-love, possessive love always fails. “Self-Eros” is emotional masturbation, the desire for the self. Self-Eros is ultimately self-hatred. To love myself does not mean to possess myself as an object of desire. The unencumbered ego goes the same way as the unencumbered libido. It follows that I cannot form my own identity because I cannot possess myself as an object of my own love. But this is just what I constantly try to do. Individualism is an attempt to possess the self. But the innermost self, the spiritual self, is distinct from consciousness and can’t be possessed by the intellect. The conscious self can think about the spiritual self, but only the spirit can “know” in the sense of gnosis; the knowledge of participation, of the consummation of the spiritual, mental and physical. Possessive self-love emanates from the intellect, from self-consciousness, but it always leads to self-hatred, because the beloved is never possessed; the true self remains elusive to the intellect. Real self-love, then, is not possessive, but on the contrary, to love oneself can only mean to totally let go of oneself.
Self-love is self-charity. It means giving to myself in the way that I give to others. Extending forgiveness to myself in the way I extend it to others. Seeing past the mistake of a moment to see the arc of my history, as I do when I think about the reasons that I love someone else. Possessive self-love fixates on my moment-by-moment existence and relentlessly tries to form my identity by the decisions of each moment, but charitable self-love pulls away until my conscious self can see all the moments that make up my life. Charitable self-love doesn’t demand that I define my own identity. It simply sees me for who I am: the sum of every moment of my life, an empty vessel filling up with experiences, a physical body with a brain, which possesses consciousness, which is aware of my spirit. Charitable self-love emanates from the spirit. It exists before thought, before self-consciousness. This is why we have it as children, but lose it in adulthood. The task of loving myself is the task of relearning the love of the spirit.
Loving myself rightly is crucial because it’s impossible to love others if I don’t love myself. But charitable love originates from God; it’s the divine, the original love. It emanates first from him, and when I accept it into my spirit, I learn to love myself first, and then I learn to love others. Charitable love means loving intrinsically, before thought, without thinking. This means that not only is God’s love unconditional, but it I’m free to love myself unconditionally too. Loving others unconditionally should flow freely from this way of living. God, teach me to love like that.

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To Bow

Read this five times a day
While facing east. 

Midday, sunlight streaming
He’s kneeling, bowing
Reverence breathing.
I don’t know why,
But I hold back tears.
“Despair is a man alone before God.”
In silence, not ashamed, 
His prayers emanate.
His wife waits with perfect grace.
I’m taken by the urge 
To bow before them both
Not for Allah, but for undaunted devotion
In the glaring face of Westernness. 

Subobjectives

Subjective truth and objective truth coexist. Subjective truth exists within linear time and objective truth exists without linear time. The objectivity of the statement “subjective truth and objective truth coexist” does not disprove it, and likewise the objectivity of the statement “subjective truth exists” does not disprove it. Finally, the objectivity of the statement “objective truth exists” does not prove its existence.

The proof that subjective truth exists is that I say it does. Nothing else is required for its existence. Subjectivity is creativity; thought makes a something from a nothing. I think “subjective truth” and it exists in my mind. You think, “subjective truth does not exist”, and therefore it doesn’t. It’s subjective. Today it exists and tomorrow it doesn’t. Today I like fish, and tomorrow I don’t because the fishy flavor is suddenly too strong for my palate. Today I love her, and tomorrow I ignore her. Subjectivity equals change or flux; I myself am subjective, and you may claim that you aren’t, but by that you only prove that mankind is subject to variation. Actually, you didn’t prove this; I did by setting up this badly constructed, subjective argument. And therefore, subjectivity. Some weirdly solipsistic person might argue that linear time can’t be proved to exist, but this is a needless argument because I say time exists, and I say it exists subjectively. And therefore, subjectivity. You then argue that my statements about subjectivity are objective, but this is fruitless because tomorrow I may take all these assertions back. My argument is not strong, but it doesn’t matter. In any case, philosophy through the ages has waffled back and forth about this. And therefore, subjectivity. All of history, all of my life, all of yesterday, all of this minute, time exists subjectively. And therefore, subjectivity.

Emotions are subject to change and variation too. Age breeds resentment and cynicism. The willful inhaling of memories strains to undo the hoary growth of tumors, the seeds of which were planted by all kinds of abuse. Prideful Eros champions ecstasy yesterday, and today she wears only the shame of the bed covers, and yet “shame is pride’s cloak”, according to Blake. Self-hate is really self-love, but twisted; self-Eros instead of self-charity. Self-Eros gives birth to the most sublime and subversive artworks, but they are bastard. Yet only the pit of human depravity can make a true, subjective artwork that gropes desperately for the objective. This is because the true artwork itself is trapped in self-Eros, but it longs for self-charity, as man does. It can never begin as self-charity, because then it only condescends. “Blessed are those who thirst and hunger after righteousness.”

Notice the time-specific language we can’t avoid writing in to describe subjective experience.

Objectivity can only come in the form of a revelation from God. Kierkegaard talks about this, although not exactly in those terms. I can’t prove objectivity except by directing the reader towards God. Do not underestimate the importance of this, or dismiss it for any number of the reasons modern thought may dismiss it. Examine what you must examine.

Because we’re bound by linear time, the idea of a God unbound by anything isn’t comprehensible to us. And yet we get glimpses. I don’t remember being born, and I can’t comprehend the idea of being dead. This is all within my linear experience, but only the events on the timeline of life are what we experience as linear. The start and finish are unknown, and so we get a glimpse of infinity, of timelessness, of objectivity. We glimpse it in the fact that we can’t glimpse anything in particular. My experience of time is a one-dimensional line; the terminations of the line (birth/death) are non-existent in my experience of it. In theory the terminations exist, which would prove that I’m mortal, but I can’t comprehend their existence experientially, and so somehow, in a weird way, I can’t comprehend my mortality just as much as I can’t comprehend my immortality.

The only other proof of objectivity is in disciplines other than philosophy or religion. Math suggests objectivity more strongly than any other discipline. The controversy occurs when we try to apply these rules to metaphysical questions. Ironically, then, objectivity does exist outside of religion, but objectivity can only exist in philosophy through divine revelation. Using the objectivity of math and science to try to prove metaphysical questions is like trying to cook a frying pan on an egg. The egg will cook, but no thanks to the frying pan; it will cook and probably disintegrate because it’s pinned between the pan and the burner. Math and science exist within the universe, but to try to explain metaphysical questions with them is as absurd as this bad cooking analogy. Math and science is the framework upon which all our experience and the entire physical universe and all of linear time are built, but they don’t answer the question of why. Phenomenology is by nature a defeat because it digresses to simply observe; it’s inherently cowardly. The objectivity of math and science may be a glimpse into the divine objectivity, but they can never disprove it, as if some sort of evolutionary incumbent. True objectivity only comes from divine revelation, and the proof of this is only in the revelation itself. This, contrastingly, takes courage to accept.

But why bring such fickle, subjective emotions as courage and cowardice into this discussion? Because my understanding of all of this occurs in subjective, linear time, and so I must use all of my faculties: my reason, my emotion, my sense, my intuition. This is why, when we consider these questions, we need to consider divine revelation, because only divine revelation marries all human faculty into coherence. All other explanations for truth, be it objective or subjective, err on any and all sides of human faculty. The revelation of scripture marries them all, because it’s a revelation from God, who isn’t bound by all these human faculties; he supersedes them.

Subjective truth and objective truth coexist. Subjective truth exists within linear time and objective truth exists without linear time.