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Posts Tagged ‘True Love’

Love on The Spiritual Path

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on October 14, 2013

  • Traditional spiritual self-culture
  • How various aspects of self-culture work — and work together
  • Using self-culture to improve love ability
  • The importance of True Love practice in spiritual becoming
  • Why is True Love so challenging?
  • The call to True Love

chorboogie_genuine_spiritual_loveEvery human being wants to be loved personally — for who they are — and every human being wants to love personally. These desires are part of our social nature as children of God. However, in many of the great spiritual traditions of man, personal love has been downplayed, and even strongly criticized. So, even while popular religions generally promote “family values,” serious spiritual seekers have been warned throughout the ages against the dangers of “women and gold,” “special relationships,” even desire in all of its forms. Entry level practices on the spiritual path almost invariably steer aspirants toward impersonal forms of self-culture, and away from involvement in personal human relationships.

Although generally wise and well-intentioned, any apparent bias against human love tends make spiritually-oriented people feel guilty or wrong for wanting/needing personal love. We are here to say, that conclusion is an unfortunate misinterpretation of traditional wisdom. Human, personal love is not necessarily sinful, lowly, or unspiritual. Quite the contrary! Human, personal love is spiritually CRUCIAL — crucial to our self-esteem, crucial to our unfolding and spiritual ascent, crucial to living as God created us to be.

Realistically, however, many people’s experience with personal love is far from Godly, or even confidence inspiring. It is true that people tend to behave badly when they are romantically involved. Often, lovers treat each other worse than they would treat a stranger. That does no credit whatsoever to the virtue of LOVE.

Therefore, even as we revalidate human love, we also affirm some of the cautions and the recommendations of the great spiritual traditions. Here’s how we would reconcile this apparent contradiction:

Humanity’s practical and intuitive need for human love is ETERNALLY right. But, HERE AND NOW, for many people — perhaps MOST people — real competence in human love may require some preparatory self-culture first, exactly as tradition suggests. Certainly, to raise human love to the heights of its spiritual potential is worth working for!

Rightly viewed, the traditional recommendations actually SUPPORT our ultimate evolution into spiritually appropriate forms of personal love. No matter how badly we want an intimate loving relationship, if we aren’t ready for it, we’re going to mess it up. Then we’re going to become afraid of the very thing we want so badly. Therefore, in order protect the tender shoot of our native desire to relate socially, we are well-advised to put to fewer eggs in the basket of relating, and more eggs in the basket of self-improvement. So, we work on ourselves FIRST — while at the same time taking care to avoid the dangers of becoming socially atrophied and excessively self-oriented.

If we can humbly and realistically acknowledge the need to prepare ourselves for the challenging adventure of personal human love, we can happily construe time-honored spiritual practices NOT as permanent SUBSTITUTES for human love, but rather as STEPS on the path TO IT. We can wholeheartedly embrace the traditional spiritual recommendations without denying our God-given social yearnings.

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Why Kissing Is So Important: Kissing Helps Us Find The Right Partner And Keep Them

kissWhat’s in a kiss? A study by Oxford University researchers suggests kissing helps us size up potential partners and, once in a relationship, may be a way of getting a partner to stick around.

Kissing in human sexual relationships is incredibly prevalent in various forms across just about every society and culture,’ said Rafael Wlodarski, the DPhil student who carried out the research in the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University. ‘Kissing is seen in our closest primate relatives, chimps and bonobos, but it is much less intense and less commonly used.

Rafael Wlodarski explained: ‘There are three main theories about the role that kissing plays in sexual relationships: that it somehow helps assess the genetic quality of potential mates; that it is used to increase arousal (to initiate sex for example); and that it is useful in keeping relationships together. We wanted to see which of these theories held up under closer scrutiny.’

The survey responses showed that women rated kissing as generally more important in relationships than men. Furthermore, men and women who rated themselves as being attractive, or who tended to have more short-term relationships and casual encounters, also rated kissing as being more important.

It has been suggested previously that kissing may allow people to subconsciously assess a potential partner through taste or smell, picking up on biological cues for compatibility, genetic fitness or general health.

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Soul Mates?

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on November 3, 2012

Everything happens for a reason. We should know that some of the people that come into our life are merely there just to help teach us a lesson and make a real impact on our life. Of course, Soul mate connection would be the perfect connection —  a telepathic one.

 I was told about a Carolina Governor who was carrying on with a woman who was not his wife, and, when it became public, justified himself on the grounds that she was his “soul mate.” The term is used constantly now and some assume, unfortunately, that we should be constantly looking for this soul mate. This is utter rubbish, of course. There’s no such thing, at least not in the sense we use the term now.

My dad taught me a great number of wise things before his untimely death, and one of them was that we don’t fall in love with “the one person” who was created for us; what usually happens is that we reach a point in life where we’re ready to have a family and the person who most closely resembles our vision of a spouse at that point is the one we focus our attention on. There is a lot of truth in that. I’ve seen it over and over as a parish priest.

At one time that wasn’t a bad thing, either. We generally kept around folks who had been raised with the same basic values and background that we had. Our families often had known each other for some time. Expectations were shared. Now, people can share only four years of college (or a night in a bar) and an overwhelming lust – what a foundation! – but they say, “I’ve met my soul mate.”

Real love, the kind that really works and is good for us, requires more than attraction and appreciation; it requires active, sacrifi cial love. Real love is not about self-actualization and self-discovery – that can be therapy, not love. Real love requires the Cross of Christ, because God is love. This is the tough stuff: we don’t want sacrifice, we want romanticism instead. A person who is set only on romantic love will never find true love. The romantic is ultimately the sad, melancholic figure at the edge of a cliff watching the crashing of the sea far below.

Love is self-offering, and self-oblation. Could it be any different? Christ himself said that “a greater love hath no man than to lay down his life.” This is the ultimate definition of love. Most people immediately turn to I Corinthians 13, but the Gospel comes first. Yes, love is patient and kind, and so forth, because that is the way we sacrifice ourselves for the other person on a daily basis. Love is the Cross embraced personally for someone other than myself. That is not an easy task. It is a struggle to do it, but it is actually the true Christian struggle.

Notice that the assumption behind the soul mate is that the other person is really oriented towards me. The desire for a soul mate is concerned with my happiness, my fulfillment, my completion. As fallen human beings, however, we are so fickle that what makes us happy this week will be bland next week. As long as my emotions and passions are the measure of love, then I will never find love. That is only found when we move outside of ourselves and willingly, deliberately offer ourselves to someone else.

The special status of soul mates in the minds of many makes crystal clear why marriage and love seem to be failing left and right. We are celebrating romanticism and narcissism. Thank God we don’t allow people to write their own marriage vows in the Orthodox Church, because the ones I have heard are ghastly things that proclaim the opposite of love. “You are my fulfillment, my joy, my hope … .” Yuck. Why not be really honest and talk about the act of the will to commit oneself to one’s spouse. “I’m going to die for you every day, in little ways and big ones, until God takes away my breath.” That won’t wow them at Hallmark. How much better the old vows really are, because they are about giving and not about receiving. (It seems to me that our Lord might have said something like that.)

Sentimentality goes hand in hand with this distorted notion of love and romanticism, because it is simply the syrupy side of self-love. It makes me feel good. To wit, if we were honestly Christian we would have to reply, “I’m sure Christ didn’t feel too good on the Cross, but he called that love. What do your feelings have to do with it?”

I hinted that there is perhaps a good use of the term soul mate. And I believe that there is. In a perfectly true sense, a soul mate is a person who joins us in the spirituality of sacrifice and oblation. This is done sacramentally and mystically in the Church. These two become true soul mates, for their souls are directed together in the Cross which leads to suffering, death and resurrection.

The Governor lost what could have been his soul mate because he opted for romanticism and self-fulfillment on his terms. He lost the possibility of real love. He traded happiness (something fleeting and undependable) for joy. “Joy cometh in the morning,” that is, after the dark night of oblation and sacrifice.

Fr. John Winfrey
St. George Orthodox Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan


A Different Kind of Love Story

Last night, a good part of America tuned in to see how the latest love story would unfold on the Bachelor.

Today, I watched a real-life love story in a hospital in Tennessee. I watched an unassuming man gently pat his wife’s leg as he described with the utmost care what she might need while he went to grab breakfast.  He returned and gave her a foot rub.  It was obvious there was nowhere else he’d rather be.

His loving deeds will never be broadcast on the local TV channel and (because of his humility) he’ll never relay them to anyone. The tender integrity conveyed in that foot rub could not be captured in ten years of romantic TV shows, no matter how many exotic trips or luxurious surroundings were in the backdrop.

This week’s pop culture headlines are flooded with this season’s Bachelor who is captivated by a perfectly toned flirtatious woman who “thinks they’ll make cute babies.” Yes, I imagine those babies would be quite attractive.

But beauty … let me tell you about beauty.

Contained in that small hospital room were two lovers who put their heart’s work into beautiful riches the world doesn’t understand. Theirs is a narrative not found in most romance novels, but one that extends far beyond themselves. This man and woman have three grown children all desiring to live for the glory of God, whose deep concern for their parent’s plight is a testimony to their character. And their heritage extends to grandchildren.  In fact because of them, two babies who once had no family now go to bed each night with the securing kisses of a Mom and Dad.

This couple doesn’t live luxuriously, but together they have experienced something glorious of eternal significance that few ever will.

And that my friends …. is a real love story.

Source: Patheos


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Keys to Powerful Living: Love

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on October 25, 2012


“Love indeed bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Love is something each of us wants, but many never find: genuine love. All around us we can see an endless pursuit of love. We look for it everywhere: in our homes and families, friendships, dating relationships, marriage and religion. But what is love, and where can we go to find lasting love for our lives?

What is Love?

Love is often described in terms of feelings. But true love — what the New Testament writers called agape love — is not based on feelings at all. Agape love can change your life and set you free. And it all begins with a decision you must make.

Agape love is a decision to consider the needs of others ahead of your own needs … to live sacrificially … to give without demanding a return … to overlook an offense. Most of all, agape love is a decision to receive and respond to God’s love. For all our efforts to love others will not bear fruit unless we are responding to His love. As the Bible says, “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Thus, our understanding of love begins with perhaps the most frequently quoted verse in the Bible, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

This is what the Bible calls being “born-again” or born from above.” In this new-birth experience, God reveals His incredible love to you. This miracle will produce in you a new nature that will allow you to love others like never before — regardless of their response to your love.

New birth is just the start. To grow in love we must continue receiving God’s love and forgiveness (see  Luke 7:47). Listen to the apostle Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Ephesus: “that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to al the fullness of God: ( Eph. 3:17B-19).

Not only do we need to be “rooted and grounded” in God’s love for us, we also need an ever-increasing comprehension of His love toward us.

As we experience God’s love and respond in love, we will be transformed into His image. We will also be fulfilling His greatest command: to love God and our neighbors (Mark 12:29-31). This love must inevitable overflow into actions (1 John 3:13). Ultimately, the verifiable witness of our love for each other will prove to the world that we are truly disciples of Jesus (see John 13:34).

While agape love is not based on feelings, the feelings of love will often follow true expressions of love. As our lives begin to demonstrate the “fruit of the Spirit: (love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control). our emotional state will undoubtedly change for the better. But we must not seek after the emotions. Instead, seek first His kingdom and “all these things: will be give to us ( Matt. 6:33).

Overcoming Barriers to Love

Even with an understanding of love, we often find it difficult to overcome barriers to love. These barriers often arise from our experiences in the past: the hurts, wounds, rejections and disappointments that left us unable to give or receive true love.

The key to overcoming the barriers of the past can be summed up in one word: forgiveness. By asking the forgiveness of those we have offended — beginning with God — and then forgiving those who have offended us, we move beyond the cycle of bitterness and enter into the realm of God’s agape love.

Our own self-centered desires — pride, envy, jealousy and conceit — often separate us from God’s true love. This barrier of self can be overcome only through repentance, by turning away from sin and asking God’s forgiveness for selfish desires and actions. As we humble ourselves before the Lord and receive His forgiveness, we will find freedom to look beyond our own needs and reach out to those around us.

Finding True Love

The search for love begins with our relationship with God. If you are looking for true love, open yourself up to the One who loves you more than anyone else in the whole world. God loved you so much that He gave His only Son, Jesus. Call upon Jesus Christ now. Allow Him to reach out and touch you with the agape love that comes from the heart of God. Repent and ask His forgiveness and receive it in faith (  Romans 10:13; 1 John 1:8-9; John 1:12). Ask Jesus to baptize you (fill you) with the Holy Spirit ( Luke 11:13).

As you grow in your faith, let God unfold His great love for you every day. Then, reach out in the practical ways to those around you — family, friends, co-workers, neighbors — and thereby demonstrate the love you have received from God.

Finally, pray and ask God to fill you with a new understanding of love: “Father, I believe You love me. The Scripture says I can love You because You first loved me. I thank you for Your love. Fill my heart in a greater way that You ever have before. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and love. Help me to grow in Your love and let me show Your love to people all around me. Thank You, Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

God’s Word on Love

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” ( 1 John 4:7-11).





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