It has been quite a while since I published my groundbreaking book, The Secret of Emotions. If you haven’t read it yet, it is worth taking another look at. Here is the beginning of the first chapter:
We are all born with an innate longing for God—not a god with a long white beard who shakes his finger at us, but the Divine Creative Spirit that blessed the universe with breathtaking wonder and touched our hearts with limitless grace. This God filled His creation with His most noble attributes—and then placed the potential for each of these qualities within the human heart. Our longing for God is not an intellectual longing. It is a spiritual longing. We approach God, not through theological study, but by being attracted to the attributes of God that are both reflected in creation and placed within our hearts. It is these attributes, then, such as love, beauty, honesty, forgiveness, patience, creativity and compassion that are the source of our longing for God.
Of all of the attributes that we long for, the one that pulls at our hearts most strongly is love. It is the one we sing songs about; the one we organize our lives around; the one that we are absolutely sure will solve all of our problems. One would think, then, that over the course of thousands of years we would all have come to a clear understanding of what love is, how it feels in our hearts, and how true spiritual love differs from its more material counterparts of lust and passion. Yet we have not. Almost no one has.
Our inability to understand and accurately identify love causes many of us to do things in the name of love that are anything but loving; things that take us further from our goals instead of nearer to them; things that make us feel ashamed instead of noble; things that convince us that we are failures instead of the radiant children of God that we are. If we are ever going to satisfy our longing for love, and live the lives we were meant to live, then we will need to find a way to accurately identify spiritual love when we experience it so that we can create more of it in our lives.
This is the golden ring. This is what we all want.
But it is bigger than that. In order to learn how to recognize one of God’s attributes, we must develop the understanding and skills needed to recognize all of them. God is not a grab-bag of isolated gifts, like faith, hope and love that you get to pick and choose. God is One. If you want to tap into God’s love, you have to be prepared to accept all of God’s bounties, and if you want to be able to recognize and create one virtue, you will need to develop the skills to recognize and create them all – not all at once, but as a lifelong process. That process, I believe, begins by getting our hearts, our minds and our bodies all speaking the same language so that what we want, what we feel and what we know all fit together accurately and are in harmony with one another. When our spiritual, physical and intellectual sides understand and respect each other, then we become whole. We are no longer divided against ourselves. We become the pilots of our own lives rather than being buffeted by needs, wants and sensations that confuse us, sabotage our best intentions and lead us astray.
You see, none of us wants a series of dysfunctional relationships. We don’t want to destroy our marriages, sit alone in dark rooms watching videos, fantasize about people who will never love us, or do any of the other things that cause us shame. And yet if that is what we find in our lives, that must be what we are pursuing. Why is it, then, that we spend time and energy trying to acquire something that isn’t what we really want? What is it that we are looking for when we walk into that bar, pick up that phone, log onto that website, smile at that stranger or knock on that door? The answer is… The answer ALWAYS is… God. We are looking for God manifested in the world of creation. We are looking for love, kindness, meaning, security, joy, hope, nobility, connection, and a myriad other virtues that God deposited within the human heart when He made it His home.
But if that is what we are looking for… Why can’t we find it?
The answer, if you think about it, is pretty obvious: Because we don’t know what these qualities look like, or, more accurately, we don’t know what these qualities FEEL like when we encounter them. How could we know how to accurately identify the signs of God’s virtues, when everyone out there is as confused as we are? We mistake kindness for weakness, hope for naïveté, nobility for stuffiness, and love… well love is the most misidentified virtue of all. We have been given wildly inaccurate and misleading information about this most important of virtues by everyone—from our families, schools, and religious communities, to almost every single movie and pop song ever made. The feelings we mistake for love range from need and lust to pity, fear and shame. I can say this because at different times in my life, I’ve mistaken each of these sensations for love, and I don’t think I’m alone. If you have your doubts, let me describe a few experiences and see if they sound familiar. Then I’ll describe what I have come to believe love really is and how it really feels. But first, the mistakes:
To read (or listen to) more, click on the picture, or click here for the book and here for the audio version.
If you want to real more of my books, you can click here to see them all.
If you like listening to books, you can also hear my book The Twelve Steps and the Baha’i Faith as a YouTube audio presentation for free.
Or you can listen to my second-most popular book, Why Me? A Spiritual Guide to Growing Through Tests as a YouTube presentation.
I am not responsible for the YouTube recordings, but since they were free to me and to you, they are a bargain at twice the price.