One of the simplest, most familiar, and important messages we receive is to love our neighbor. Unfortunately, this is a difficult message for many to manifest consistently in their daily lives. A difficulty reflected in the lack of civility often seen between neighbors near and far. The roots of this difficulty begin with the notion that loving our neighbor is a choice. A choice built upon ego illusions of separation, inequality, and unworthiness with which we come to know some of our neighbors and they us. It is when loving our neighbor has become a choice that the message is rendered meaningless. The Love—God Is, within each of us is connective, unconditional, unburdened, and unlimited. It does not allow for a choice.
Love Our Neighbor—There is No Choice!
One of the most important messages we receive as children and throughout our lifetime is to love our neighbor. This message has been sent throughout the world for thousands of years. It is a central tenet of every religion or belief system seeking to promote connection to each other and God. A foundation for human and spiritual wellness and a game plan for the best life has to offer. This is a particularly important message in a world where technology and telecommunications has brought us into a more immediate and intimate level of contact with our neighbors, near and far, in ways that did not exist only a generation ago. Distance, geography, and primitive technology no longer stand in the way of seeing our neighbor or they us—for better or worse. Yet, despite its simplicity, familiarity, and significance, it is a message that is often not fully embraced at all times, in all places, and with all people. This message often gets diluted, lost, or forgotten when we encounter the differences that exist between we and our neighbors. Then loving our neighbor starts to become a choice for many, if it isn’t one we are already making.
The weakening, meaninglessness, and absence of the message begins with the notion that loving our neighbor is a choice. It is a choice we may or may not realize we are making—but many are often making it. This choice is being made when we start to look negatively upon neighbors who differ from us in race, gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious affiliation, income level, intellectual ability, physical ability, or emotional stability. Placing conditions or requirements on which neighbors we will love or how much is a violation of the simple, brilliant, and beautiful message to love our neighbors—all of them and at all times! When we fail to do so, we don’t understand the message at all and believing we do is only an illusion. Also, loving our neighbor isn’t something we can only think. It’s not just a good and wholesome idea. We must live it for the message to be real and not just an illusion in which we are only fooling ourselves.
Some may think that loving our neighbor is a choice and even resent the suggestion that there can be no choice. It only becomes a choice when we are losing contact with our Divinity and falling deeply into our humanity. A humanity which often embraces the notion that we are not our brother’s and sister’s keepers and do not need to serve them in their time of need. A humanity which allows us to stop loving our neighbor based on any of the differences they may have from our likeness. A humanity that allows fear and anger, rather than love, to guide one’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior toward our neighbor, particularly when they are being a lesser version of themselves.
Loving our neighbor becomes a choice when ego illusions of separation, inequality, and unworthiness become the filters through which we view our neighbors and loving them becomes more conditional. Loving our neighbor becomes attached to prerequisites involving the right beliefs and values, the right demographics, or the right physical, mental, or emotional characteristics. The notion of loving our neighbor is lost and the message has been rendered meaningless when choice has become a part of it. The Love—God Is, which exists within our Divinity is connective, unconditional, unburdened, and unlimited. It involves a Divine standard rather than a human one to be the source of one’s guidance. It does not allow for a choice where none can exist to be the essence of this love. Only an imbalanced ego in which power, flexibility, or vulnerability issues are impacting on our human energy and humanity can bring this about—making love a choice.
The good news is we can become more connected to our Divinity, if need be. When we awaken to the illusion of separation operating in our life and realize we are truly connected to all others the wall of separation can come down. When we awaken to the illusion of inequality operating in our life and realize we can only be equal and that any differences are not the making of deficiency or inequality, this wall can come down. When we awaken to the illusion of unworthiness operating in our life and realize that we and others can only be worthy, because God dwells within each of us, this wall can come down. The removal of each of these illusions will lead to the removal of the notion that loving our neighbor is a choice. With the true meaning of the message “love our neighbor” being fully known and lived.
Again, the Love—God Is, is connective, unconditional, unburdened, and unlimited. When we sign on to loving our neighbor that is the love we are being. That is the love in which there can be no choice. That is the love in which we would want no choice. It is the love in which ego illusions involving separation, inequality, and unworthiness, attached to ourselves, others, or God can’t and don’t exist. Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” To the degree that loving our neighbor is a choice, we must seek to be that change.
Love Our Neighbor—There is No Choice!
Dr. Nickolas Martin is a licensed psychologist who has worked in clinical, university, public school and private practice settings as a therapist, diagnostician, educator and consultant for 35 years. He authored Ego Therapy: A Method for Healing Your Whole Self and It’s Your Ego—Stupid!: Fix It to Fix Your Life and has co-authored with Rev. Linda M. Martin, EgoSpiritualism: Awakening to Your Human and Divine Self and The Two Voices Within: Balancing the Energies of Ego and Spirit to Enhance Your Life.