Love Requires One to Be Strong
Leo Buscaglia

  

To live in love is life's greatest challenge.  It requires more subtlety, flexibility, sensitivity, understanding, acceptance, tolerance, knowledge and strength than any other human endeavor or emotion, for love and the actual world make up what seem like two great contradictory forces.  On the one hand, we may know that only be being vulnerable can we truly offer and accept love.  At the same time, we know that if we reveal this vulnerability in daily life, we often run the risk of being misused, taken advantage of.  We sense that if we hole a part of ourselves in reserve to protect this vulnerability, we will always receive in return only the partial love we give.  So, the only chance we have for a depth of love is to give all that we have.  Yet, we discover that when we give all that we have, we are often left with little or nothing in reserve.

We know that we must trust and believe in love, for it's the only approach to love.  Yet, if we express our trust and belief, society doesn't hesitate to abuse us and take us for fools.  If we have hope in love and know that it's only with this hope that we can make this dream of an all-loving humanity a reality, society ridicules us as idealistic dreamers.  If we don't seek love frantically, we're suspected of being impotent and an "odd-ball."  Yet we know that love isn't to be sought after; it's everywhere, and to search is self-deception, a charade.

 If we decide to spend each moment of our lives, living in love, in the knowledge that we are most real and human when we are living love, society labels us as weak-minded romantics.  Love and the practices of the real world seem at odds, miles apart.  It is no wonder so may people do not have the courage to attempt to bridge the gap, for in practice, the gap seems unbridgeable.

We have, on the one hand, the understanding and drives for growing in love, but society makes this knowledge difficult in practice.  Society's reality differs from love's reality.  The strength to believe in love when you are pitted against a nonreinforcing proving ground is more than most people can accept.  So they find it easier to put love aside, to reserve it for special people on unique occasions and join forces with society in questioning its supposed reality.  
   
To be open to love, to trust and believe in love, to be hopeful in love and live in love, you need the greatest strength.  This condition is so seldom experienced in real life that people don't know how to cope with it, even when they discover it.  They crucify a Jesus, shoot a Gandhi, behead a Thomas More and poison a Socrates.  Society has little place for honesty, tenderness, goodness, or concern.  These get in the way of the "way of the world."  The phenomenon has been the basis for great works of literature from Plato's Republic and Dostoevsky's The Idiot, to Kazantzakis' The Great Passion and Luis Bunuel's The Nazarene.

It's almost like a game.  People seek a figure to exalt.  They select him carefully, spend some time at his feet in adulation, then get great satisfaction in the slaughter.  It's as if they cannot handle perfection, as if it causes them to reflect upon themselves, to move them to change, the thought of which is perhaps too uncomfortable and painful.  It's easier not to see or concern themselves with perfection.  Then they can be content with their own imperfection.

It's a fact that we do not move in a world of lovers.  If we deal in the world of people, we're more likely to come upon selfishness, cruelty, deception, manipulation, and like parasitic actions.  If we depend upon the real world outside of ourselves for reinforcement, we'll be disillusioned and soon discover that society and people are far less than perfect.  For our society was created by less than perfect people.  To cope with what we find and to still live in love, we must have strength.  We'll only survive if this strength lies within ourselves.  We must not put our love upon the world and if it is rejected blame the world for its insensitivity.  If we find no love, we can blame only the fact that we have no love.  We must have love securely in ourselves.  We must dedicate ourselves to love, be resolute in our love and unwavering in our love.

It's a fact that we do not move in a world of lovers.  If we deal in the world of people, we're more likely to come upon selfishness, cruelty, deception, manipulation, and like parasitic actions.  If we depend upon the real world outside of ourselves for reinforcement, we'll be disillusioned and soon discover that society and people are far less than perfect.  For our society was created by less than perfect people.  To cope with what we find and to still live in love, we must have strength.  We'll only survive if this strength lies within ourselves.  We must not put our love upon the world and if it is rejected blame the world for its insensitivity.  If we find no love, we can blame only the fact that we have no love.  We must have love securely in ourselves.  We must dedicate ourselves to love, be resolute in our love and unwavering in our love.

We must not be as Voltaire's foolish Candide and recognize only goodness even where evil exists.  We must also know evil, hate and bigotry as real phenomena, but we must see love as the greater force.  We must not doubt this even for a moment or we are lost.  Our only salvation is to dedicate ourselves to love, in the same fashion as Gandhi did to militant nonviolence, as Socrates did to truth, as Jesus did to love and as More did to integrity.  Only then will we have the strength to combat the forces of doubt, confusion, and contradiction.  We can depend upon no one or no thing for reinforcement and assurance but ourselves.  This may be a lonely path, but it's less lonely if we will understand the following:

* Our main function is to help unfold our true Self.

* Equal to this function is helping others to become strong, and perfect themselves as unique individuals.

* We will do this best by affording all persons the opportunity to show their feelings, express their aspirations and share their dreams.

*  We must see the forces labeled "evil" as emanating from suffering people who, like ourselves, are "human" and in the process of attempting to perfect their "beings."

* We must combat these forces of evil through an active love which is deeply concerned and interested in each person's quest for self-discovery.

* We must believe that it is not the world that is ugly, bitter, and destructive, but it is what people have done to the world that makes it appear so.

* We must be models. Not models of perfection, a state not often reached by people, but model human beings.  For being a good human being is the greatest thing we can be.

* We must be able to forgive ourselves for being less than perfect.

* We must understand that change is inevitable, and that when it is directed to love and self-realization, it is always good.

* We must be convinced that behavior, to be learned, must be tried out.  "To be is to do."

* We must learn that we cannot be loved by all people. That is the ideal.  In the world of people, it is not often found.  We can be the finest plum in the world, ripe, juicy, sweet, succulent and offer ourselves to all.  But we must remember that there will be people who do not like plums.

* We must understand that if we are the world's finest plum and someone we love does not like plums, we have the choice of becoming a banana.  But we must be warned that if we choose to become a banana, we will be a second-rate banana.  But we can always be the best plum.

* We must realize that if we choose to be a second-rate banana, we run the risk of the loved one finding us second-best and, wanting only the best, discarding us.  We can then spend our lives trying to become the best banana--which is impossible if we are a plum--or we can seek again to be the best plum.

* We must endeavor to love all people even if we aren't loved by them.  We don't love to be loved; we love to love.

* We must reject no person, for we realize that we are a part of every person and to reject even one person, is to reject ourselves.

* We must know that if we love all people and are rejected by one, we must not pull away in fear, pain, disappointment, or anger.  It is not the other person's fault.  The person was not ready for what was offered.  Love was not offered to the person with conditions.  Love was given because someone was fortunate enough to have it to give, because the person felt joy in the giving, not for what he or she would receive in return.

* We must understand that, if we are rejected in one love, there are hundreds of others awaiting love.  The idea that there is but one right love is deception.  There are many right loves.

These ideas will aid in giving you strength to be a lover, for to be a lover will require that you continually have the subtlety of the very wise, the flexibility of the child, the sensitivity of the artist, the understanding of the philosopher, the acceptance of the saint, the tolerance of the dedicated, the knowledge of the scholar, and the fortitude of the certain.  A tall order!  All of these qualities will grow in those who choose love for these are already a part of our potential and will be realized through loving.  It becomes, then, a matter of loving your way to love.
  
  

This book is about love. What it is and what it isn't. It is about you--and about everybody who has ever reached out to touch the heart of another. Among many other lessons of the heart, Leo Buscaglia reminds us: Love is open arms. If you close your arms about love you will find that you are left holding only yourself.

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This is the miracle that happens every time to those who really love:
the more they give, the more they possess of that precious nourishing
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Rainer Maria Rilke

   

  

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