The Way of Love vs. the Way of Discipline
Let’s compare the Way of Love to the way of self-discipline. Generally, spiritual seekers consider discipline–especially self-discipline–as the driving force of spiritual ascent. For example, we rely on discipline to focus the mind and the energy. And we work hard to overcome the lower tendencies of ego–or at least think we should. Discipline has a lot to be said for it, but friends, if you want to bring order to your life and focus the mind, love works much better than self-discipline.
These great things that we, as seekers, strive for — focus, constancy, and well-ordered living — are but inherent properties of love. Consider this: When people fall in love, that love starts to bring order to their lives, almost immediately. It happens on virtually every level. They quickly change everything in their life — naturally and happily.
Everyone knows that focus is important in spiritual ascent. Well, when in love, the most scatterbrained persons suddenly become perfectly single-pointed–focused on the beloved.
There can be no question that constancy, too, is achieved through the power of love. The lower mind is naturally fickle. And obviously, that’s why great effort must be made to discipline, direct, and re-direct the mind. It’s like trying to control a herd of wild horses. But the true heart is naturally constant. When one really loves something, one is naturally attracted to that thing. One naturally focuses on that thing, and does not have to make an effort to stop the mind from wandering. Thus, when the heart is allowed to lead, the heart makes the mind constant.
So as you can see, the results of being in love duplicate, and even exceed, the results of disciplined attempts to put life in order. Love achieves the goals of ordinary self-discipline and traditional spiritual effort — focus, constancy, bringing life into a perfect order — completely naturally. Effortlessly. Happily. Ecstatically, even. And that is a claim that no ordinary self-discipline, of a traditional nature, can possibly make.
There is a value to self-discipline, certainly. But the kind of self-discipline that is a natural expression of love is most effective. The usual ego-styled approach to problem-solving is often so problematical, and so problem-focused, as to actually reinforce problems. In contrast, love solves problems by seeing/being beyond them. Effort is self-limited; love is Self-unlimited. Love moves mountains; effort moves molehills. Effort overcomes some little challenges; love conquers all.
Any life moved by love is well-focused, uplifting, careFull. Can there be any doubt that such a life is truly Godly? Indeed, since God is love, a life directed by love is Divinely directed — and not egoically directed, or egoically “perfected.”
So we see a real difference between that discipline which exists in reaction to the ego and that love which exists in response to life, and which is of one’s own heart nature. They are two very different things. The usual spiritual effort is an act in relation to ego, embraced and performed by ego. The true Way is the Way of Love. It is a response to Divinity — even as manifest in persons — and it is a creative expression of Divinity.
The true and natural way of the heart
The Way of Love is quite natural to us — not in the sense that the survival instinct is “natural,” but in the sense that love is inherent to who we are. So we’re speaking of heart nature. No sane person would claim to be hateful or evil at heart. “I am good and loving at heart,” people say. And when we respond from the heart, as the heart, we see how true that statement is. Every heart is warmed by a love exchange, while it is bored by a mediocre exchange, and chilled by a hate exchange.
And the Way of Love is natural to us, because we already love! We love our own true Self, we love the true Self of all, and we love Divinity. Ask any person these questions, and you can verify this: “Do you love Divinity: Do you love your own indwelling Divinity, such as you have seen of it? And do you love the God that is, the Divinity of all?” Invariably, the answer is, “Yes, I love that.” You see, whether we call it “God” or not, surely everyone knows — both intuitively and through various kinds of experiences — the beauty and the power of the Divinity that is, and the Divinity that they themselves are.
And then you ask, “Do you love egoic nature? Do you love egoic tendencies?” Now, when they think about that, and they consider the grief that ego has caused to them and others, the answer will invariably be, “Certainly not!” One cannot love it. It is not lovable!
So, when we point to the Way of Love as the true and natural way, we simply point to the honest truth of who you are and what you already feel: “I love that which is Divine, and I do not love that which is of ego.” We do not point to something to be achieved. We point to a love that exists and persists in the heart. And we point to who you are — you yourself, as you are, without any lies, or pretext, or distortions in relation to that. The one who you are loves as you love, and loves what you love. And, at the same time, the one who you are does not love what it cannot and does not love.
Once the existence and persistence of love is simply acknowledged, then love can be lived as a true and natural constancy. For as we have said, people naturally focus on what they love. And they naturally order their life as love asks them to. When we love, we don’t have to make an arduous, self-disciplined effort to overcome all kinds of resistance. The nature of love takes care of that.