“Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth… Love is as love does. Love is an act of will — namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”
M. Scott Peck
Thankful was the basis of a discussion I had with a friend recently. He asked whether there was a way to feel blessed for what you have but continue to strive for more. The direction the conversation took was to talk about the nature of love.
I remembered something that my wife said. “Love is wanting to see the spiritual growth in another”, which she derived from the quote above. It resonated with me.
Love is wanting to see the ‘spiritual’ growth in another. What are the implications?
- Firstly, it is a giving, rather than receiving, way to be. It is about helping. It is not a mutual thing.
- Let’s talk about the word ‘spiritual’. My take is that this does not mean spiritual in a religious sense. Rather, for it is a holistic sense of improvement, about helping someone with their life journey.
- It is not about attachment. It is not about proximity. It is not about a fear of losing someone. It is not about interdependence.
In the aforementioned conversation, I was reminded of a particular story about another Jain nun (these nuns seem to be popping up all over the place in these posts).
She had associated with a group of nuns since she was a little girl, and had stayed in the ashram for periods of days, then weeks. She got married, she had a child. All through this she maintained her relationship with the ashram and continued her (more literal) spiritual development. Her child grew up.
At some point, she realised that she needed to give up her lay life and become a nun. As per the rules, she needed permission from her family in order to be able to do this. Her husband and her young daughter, as well as the wider family, had to agree. Imagine being a young teenager and giving your blessing for your mother to move away forever because it is part of her spiritual journey, and it is better for the world. Being able to do this feels like the epitome of true love.
Can I do this? Could I give up proximity to those I love for their and the world’s betterment? I hope so.