The love orientation that can save us from our ego
Viktor Frankl believes there are two options – to give ourselves to a cause greater than ourselves or to love someone unconditionally, both of which take us beyond ourselves. But there is another one that the likes of Mother Theresa and Francis of Assisi believed was the answer. It is to let the voice within lead us to an awareness of God’s love for us, then respond to life from that position. After all Jesus called it the first and great commandment, to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” Get this mind-set right and all the other orientations will fall into place.
Spirit or ego?
The spirit, not the ego, was surely at work in tens of thousands of lay workers – more than 30,000 in England alone – who became lay, or co-workers with Mother Teresa and her nuns. Co-workers did not have to be Catholic or even Christian. They were united in a common goal of “whole-hearted service to the poorest of the poor.” Loosely organized, unpaid, they operated in the most frugal manner possible.
Mother Teresa had always believed prayer led to faith, faith to love, love to service. The inspiration for their difficult work was the prayer co-workers were encouraged to pray daily with the sisters – the famous prayer of St. Francis.
The prayer of St Francis
“ Lord make me an instrument of your peace,
That where there is hatred, I may bring love;
That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness,
That where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
That where there is error, I may bring truth;
That where there is doubt, I may bring faith,
That where there is despair, I may bring hope;
That where there are shadows I may bring light;
That where there is sadness, joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort, than to be comforted;
To understand than to be understood; to love than to be loved,
For it is by forgetting self that one finds;
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.”
We come either from our ego or from a spirit that is responding to love.
Put simply, we have a love relationship with the Divine Being,with this love the centre of our orientation from which all other thoughts come, or we inevitably organise our identity around the ego’s attempts to think well of itself. A love relationship with the Divine Being enables the spirit and its yearnings for goodness beauty and truth to rise beyond the limitations of the self-concept.
Motivated by renewed hope our spirit is then ready to strike out and to engage with the world with faith and love. Internally this enables greater co-operation of the brain, mind and spirit, often putting us in the zone. This can become the source of our unique faith vision. In the words of John Bradshaw, “Ego is to the true self, what a tiny flashlight is to a search light.” This is why when the ego rules, life becomes full of disappointment and very confusing.
This time each year we are reminded that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.