At a Sandra Maitri and Joyce Stenstrom workshop two years ago, Sandra said that for Christianity, love was the highest level of attainment; and for Hinduism, emptiness was the highest level of attainment. By contrast, the end goal of Enneagram work is "to be with what is", to be flowing like a river- always aware and accepting of what arises. On our journey through life, love and emptiness will inevitably appear, and the invitation is to embrace them like the Buddha invited Mara in for tea.
This is a story about love, and I remembered it yesterday when I was writing about video shorts that try to guilt us into changing our behaviors. There are lots right now on the inernet about race relations, the way we treat the earth, and cell phone usage, among many other topics. There's nothing wrong with raising awareness, but we will only change when we know we're loved.
I was a neurotic for years. I was anxious and depressed and selfish. Everyone kept telling me to change.
I resented them, and I agreed with them, and I wanted to change, but simply couldn't, no matter how hard I tried.
What hurt the most was that, like the others, my best friend kept insisting that I change. So I felt powerless and trapped.
Then, one day, he said to me, "Don't change. I love you just as you are."
Those words were music to my ears: "Don't change. Don't change. Don't change... I love you as you are."
I relaxed. I came alive. And suddenly I changed!
Now I know that I couldn't really change until I found someone who would love me whether I changed or not.
-- Anthony de Mello, Song of the Bird
I don't know if the renowned Jesuit de Mello wrote in that last line of interpretation on his own, but I want to add something. In the absence of someone who loves us whether we change or not (it can be an empty, lonely world out there), we can love ourselves through the practice of mindfulness. To see- to really see ourselves- on a regular basis, deeply, with compassion- is to love ourselves. Then at last we will change.