June 21, 2011 -- Wouldn't it be easy if we just had a formula where we could see that if A + B happened we would know that love is present?
I've found one for Love. I'd been puzzling over that illusive spiritual concept called "love" and working to make it a reality in everyday life. I'd heard about "love" in Bible school ages ago, but that seemed so abstract.
I yearned for love with a capital L and I yearned to know what absolute unconditional Love was and if it existed. If I could conceive of it, then it must be possible, I reasoned, but Love does not fit into reasonable, tidy boxes. It defies analysis and rational explanation.
Why does a woman beaten by her mate continue to love him? Why do mothers feed and love their babies so totally and unconditionally? What is this thing that draws people together makes them clash in relationships and then spin off in different directions to seek that energy somewhere else? I ask myself these questions and struggle to find answers.
Several years ago, I asked: "What does it mean to work with Love?" I wanted to bring that energy into my writing. Little signs gave indications along the way. In India in an ashram I read this sign posted on the canteen wall: "Love is neither emotion nor sentiment. Love is energy. -- Sathya Sai Baba."
A light bulb went on inside me and ignited a spark. I realized that when I worked with love I felt energized and alive. I certainly felt love as energy. But how would I know when I was working with love and putting it to work in relationships?
No sooner had I asked the question when an immortal passage came my way with the answer: "Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast; it is not proud. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always perseveres. Love never fails." -- I Corinthians 13:4
I turned it into a formula to help it make sense to my mind. It looks something like this:
Patience + kindness + trust + perseverance + truth + protection – rudeness – boasting – self-seeking – pride – envy = Love
This became my scientific formula to know when I bring the presence of love into work. It also holds true in relationships. But if love were rocket science and easily confined to a formula, then it would be mechanical and easy. But Love mixed with the ways of human nature makes it more challenging.
It seems to me more and more that the easy way to practice Love is simply to be empty like a flute, let go of ego and desires, and allow the energy to pass through unobstructed to everyone around. Children do this naturally. So do we, as adults, when we return to this pristine, trusting, childlike state of being.
One of the great examples of Love that I saw lived in India. He fed and housed the poor, created free schools and free state-of-the-art hospitals that are the admiration of India's elite, and he brought free drinking water through canal projects to areas where people once walked miles for fresh water. When he died recently, the Dalai Lama sent condolences. He was buried with state honors.
Like Mother Teresa, Sathya Sai Baba lived a message of Love. He said: "Through the eyes of Love, all beings are beautiful and the world is one vast family." I am working toward this expansive heartedness a little more every day. I invite you along for the journey. It takes effort, but together we can make the world a better place.
Debra Moffitt is author of "Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life." A visionary and teacher, she's devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Visit her online.