The big problem today is that most people don’t love themselves. Society never teaches that it is possible to love ourselves. Understand that unless you love yourself, you cannot possibly love another person. Only when you lose yourself to yourself can you lose yourself to others. We are taught that we can only love even ourselves if we have a reason. If we perform well, we love ourselves. If we fail, we hate ourselves. We apply the same logic to others. We love them only because of something, never without a cause, without a reason. When you don’t love yourself, you become cynical and negative towards life.
Existence is not a thing. It is a living energy being. Every single tree, every single stalk of a plant responds to your love and hate, your every thought. Cleve Backster, a polygraph expert, has conducted several experiments to examine the response of plants to human emotions and thoughts. He discovered that plants would respond to human thought in a way similar to how a human being would respond. A simple thought by a person about burning the leaves of the plant would register erratic movement in the polygraph recording of the plant! Backster* called this response ‘Primary Perception’ – the ability of plant, animal and human cells to perceive and respond to any thought.
On one occasion, Backster* recorded graphs that registered a flat line that suggested the plants were in a state of shock. He asked the owner of the plant if she had done anything to hurt the plants. The lady told him, ‘I roasted a few of its leaves to get their dry weight!’
When you start loving Existence, it begins responding to you in beautiful ways. You start rising above all of the differences around you. Everything is part of one Whole. And love is the only thing that can make you realize this truth.
In India, there is a tradition of spiritual wandering where people walk by foot the length and breadth of the country, visiting many temples and pilgrim centers. I used to wonder how they were able to do that, especially going through forests, sleeping with wild animals and begging for food. The secret is that they start feeling connected with nature so completely that nature protects them beautifully. Whether it rains or shines, the animals and trees, everything, takes care of them. Even though this may be logically difficult to understand, it is the truth.
If you begin to live with a little respect and love for Existence and all its creations, you will be able to recognize these things happening in your own life as well. Nature will simply reciprocate your love in many beautiful ways.
Very often, love is confused with respect. From a young age, children are brought up to always show respect but never to show love. You can hear people teach the children, ‘You should respect your elders.’ You will hardly hear, ‘You should love your elders.’ That is the problem.
Respect sows the first guilt in you that you are something inferior. It makes you feel separate from the other person to whom you show respect. On the other hand, love sows the seeds of joy and unity in you. It makes you feel connected with the other person and with everything in Existence. With respect, there is fear. With love, there is authentic respect as well as the scope for deep understanding to happen. With respect alone, not much understanding is possible. With love, there is a possibility for tremendous understanding and transformation to happen. Love by its very nature is transforming. It softens and melts you.
Respect creates distance between you and the other. Love bridges the distance between you and the other. Only because people themselves have not experienced love, do they give respect as the rule of acceptable behavior. Respect is easier but not real. Love might be difficult only because not many know how to go about it, but it is real. With love, respect is automatic and authentic. With pure respect, the appearance of love is forced and may never be authentic.