By Jean Farish
“You cannot give anything more important than the love reflected in your own life.” -Henry Drummond
What are the sources of unrest that make inner peace seem impossible? How can we rise above it all? Whether it is lack of peace with ourselves and others driven by pride, competition, selfishness and ambition, this unrest may result in fragmented lives with unhappiness, struggle and dissatisfaction. True contentment is coming to a place of peace and rest by tapping into the inner wellspring of wisdom that is always available and accessible. It is our natural state of being that can be unearthed through awareness and orderly development whereby we can live unburdened, joyful and free. In order to achieve this state, it is essential to create the beauty of character, live with higher ideals, endure ceaseless practice to embody love, and live harmoniously.
Creating the Beauty of Character
Much time is spent searching for ways to live a better life. We may resort to adopting a variety of coping practices that result in emotional exhaustion when the desired outcome is not readily achieved. Who we are is reflected in our character and how we address and express ourselves in the world. It is revealed in all aspects of our lives, and is developed by the stream of life experiences that radiate either strength and beauty or weakness and strife. Each moment is an opportunity to do better with devotion of careful attention to ourselves, common daily tasks, and encounters with others. Our ideal of who we become rests on living with higher ideals to create strength and beauty of character. If we do not, we become disconnected, disillusioned and discontented with our lives. By cultivating a lifestyle of love, we can live with ease, elegance and grace.
What higher ideals do you live by? What does your ideal life look like? How does your ideal life make you feel? As quoted by Erich Fromm, “Love is the answer to the problem of human existence.” The teachings of Henry Drummond, reflected in this article, show us how to live with higher ideals. In his 1884 classic, The Greatest Thing in the World, Drummondcalledthe Spectrum of Love, the analysis of love that includes nine virtues: Patience, kindness, generosity, humility, courtesy, unselfishness, good temper, guilessness and sincerity. The Spectrum of Love makes up the supreme gift and represents the stature of the perfect man. Like all the colors in the rainbow, Drummond contends that not one can be missing. Thus, the Spectrum of Love is a Wholistic Model of Love that can be practiced by everyone, in every place and at all times to become a good person, wise and radiate the spirit of love for self and others. These nine virtues encompass a curriculum for life to fulfill our capacity to love :
Patience: The normal attitude of love. Passive, waiting, not in a hurry, calm, meek, quiet in spirit
Kindness: Love is active. Giving pleasure, making people happy, doing good deeds
Generosity: Love envieth not. Not in competition with others or feeling ill will
Humility: Not puffed up. Humble and not conceited or arrogant
Courtesy: To be love in little things. Etiquette, polite, gentle
Unselfish: Love seeketh not his own. Giving
Guilessness: Thinketh no evil. Good temper, nonreactive, not angry or jealous
Sincerity: Rejoiceth in truth. Accept what is real and true
Love is not just a casual expression of feelings or enthusiastic emotions based upon objects of love, it is exemplified as full expression of the divinity within thereby restoring and bringing us back to our center of peace and calm. The universal power of love is stable, constant and unchanging. By synthesis of all the virtues through constant, conscientious attention, we can transcend mundane life experiences with the energy of light and love that is imbedded in our soul.
This Wholistic Model of Love represents the essence of unconditional divine love. These virtues are worth practicing with instant results that will make you more loving and lovable. They will make you feel good through wholehearted worthiness and improve the relationship with yourself and others. It is essential to use solitude, meditation and prayer to immerse yourself in the meaning of each virtue and then incorporate them in your daily life. You will discover how to live and grow in love.
Enduring Ceaseless Practice to Embody Love
Love is the light of the soul and the universal language of life. Through ceaseless practice, we radiate the energy of love within and to all we encounter. Love is the divine element in life. “The one eternal lesson to us all is, How Better Can We Love? Wherever you go and whatever you do, your work will be a failure unless you have this element in your life,” as noted by Drummond. Love is the supreme gift and ultimate practice in our lives that promotes oneness and harmony among beings.
How then are we to actually achieve this practice? Drummond proposes the following: We embrace our wills to secure it. We try to copy those who have it. We lay down rules about it. We watch. We pray. But these things alone will not bring love into our nature. Love is an effect and as we fulfill the right condition, we can have the effect produced. Therefore we should be committed to the practice, be mindful and alert, remain faithful, set reasonable and healthy boundaries and choose models who ultimately demonstrate the virtues of love. This subtle yet powerful exercise that can help us reflect the image of love. When passing a mirror, see yourself as the image of the perfect man exuding the virtues of love. Fall in love with this image and grow into the likeness of this reflection.
Each moment presents opportunities to build character through the practice of love. All of our experiences in life are gifts to help us grow personally and spiritually, and become more expansive with courage to face life challenges. Drummonds recommends the following: Do not quarrel with your lot in life. Do not complain of its never-ceasing cares and the souls you have to work and live with. Do not resent temptation. Do not be perplexed. Do not grudge the hand that shapes you. Do not isolate yourself. Whether feeling betrayed, bewildered, angry or experiencing events beyond your control, regard them as your beloved teachers. Be present in your life and available in the midst of life trials, troubles and obstacles. You will become stronger and create the of beauty of character as you grow in love. Keep a journal and note the changes that occur in your life. Make this practice a priority and set aside time to contemplate each virtue. Incorporate this practice with yourself to keep your cup filled with love.
Life is a continuous progression of evolution with the opportunity to create our lives in love. The gifts of life, whether perceived as good or bad, contribute to our personal growth and spiritual development. Cultivate the spirit of love in your life. The essence of our true power is within and each challenge can bring forth endless possibilities.
Many may find living by higher ideals an awesome task, but universal love is the panacea for a fulfilling life. If we put our energies on the power that we already possess, our natural state of being which is love, we will find the stability and security of that in which we are yearning. A life of contentment gives us personal solace, freedom from struggle, agony and effort where we will find joy, peace, and love. Live for love and make the world a better place.