On love and fear

My February 2017 column for The Echo.

On love and fear

By Frank DeMarco

February – the month of Valentine’s Day. Eros and agape and chocolate hearts and flowers and “be my valentine” and all that. All about love.


Pontius Pilate was wasting his time, asking “what is truth?” He would have gotten much better ratings, even retrospectively, if he had asked “what is love?” (And Jesus wasn’t answering about truth, chances are he wouldn’t have answered this one either.) Pretty nearly everybody in the audience would have been interested in the question, and we are now, and our distant descendants will be just as interested whenever life poses the question to them.

But what is love? A Course in Miracles, among others, says that love and fear form the ultimate polarity. (They could equally well be expressed as hope and despair, or openness and barriers.) You might say, love is the overcoming of separateness; fear is the reinforcing of separateness.

Love, in this context, is not warm fuzzy feelings, or sentiment, or romance. It is the binding energy, rather like gravity, that not only “makes the world go ‘round,” but makes the world. It is the interpenetration of being, the fundamental oneness of everything. It is to life what flesh is to bodies. No love, no life.

Love and fear are not so much transient emotions as opposing but interconnected tendencies. As one expands, the other contracts. As you move more toward love, you automatically move away from fear, and vice-versa. When the other expands, the first contracts. They’re always both in play. We live between these extremes, and we choose, day by day, moment by moment, which pole we move toward. Think of our life as a spiral: we spiral out toward expansion (love) and we spiral in toward contraction (fear).

Where we habitually position ourselves on the spiral defines the life we lead. What we experience through our senses persuades us that we are all separate, and from that perception of separation comes the perception of lack of control, which creates fear. Eliminate the perception of separation and fear goes out the window. This is what love does.

You might envision it this way.

Draw a coil and imagine the coil suspended in space between a positive and negative charge. Each opposing charge pulls on the spiral. It should be clear that any point on the spiral is either exactly equidistant between the two forces, or closer to one or to the other. So there can be only three states relative to the forces: plus, zero, or minus.

(In this case, plus and minus have nothing to do with good and evil. This is just a mechanical analogy.)

If you are traveling on a spiral (and, in effect, we are) the oscillation between polarities is regular, predictable, and useful. It subjects us to ever-varying influences within which to exercise our free will to determine who we wish to become. Some times favor some purposes and are unfavorable for others. Of course it isn’t nearly this simple. Our lives don’t revolve around one spiral. Instead we have spirals within spirals, some contradicting others, some in harmonic resonance with others, some not interacting with others in any system that is obvious to you. Thus we might say that every moment of our life is uniquely favorable for something; and more or less favorable for other things, and indifferent for still other things. The only thing constant is change itself.

Children in their natural state freely express love. (“Unless you become as little children,” Jesus said, “you can’t enter the kingdom.”) As we age, we can become relatively dead to love, as we can be relatively dead to life itself, and for the same reason. Fortunately, once we know what’s wrong, we can work to set it right. No matter where you are right now on the ability-to-love scale, you can teach yourself to love more deeply, more easily.

Here’s a simple daily exercise to help you to practice love, extend your consciousness and your openness, and grow. It’s not complicated or difficult. It just requires doing.

Find some object to love. It can be a pet or a flower or an abstraction or a car, though it would be better if it were a person. Do it! If you have difficulty doing it, go back in your mind to some time when you loved or felt loved. Experience that feeling again; call it up, and express it toward whatever recipient you have chosen.

As you practice this, day by day, raise the bar by successively practicing loving something that’s less lovable. Anyone can love a dog, because the dog thinks you’re wonderful. It takes a little more to love a cat, because the cat thinks it’s wonderful. It takes more to love a woodchuck, because a woodchuck doesn’t care one way or the other. It takes more to love a rattlesnake, because it’s harder to relate to – especially if you’re afraid of it. So you could easily raise the bar a little bit every day, just by aiming to love something that is continually a little bit less loveable.

If we are to live in health, if we are to help others heal, we must live in love as best we can from day to day. It isn’t just hearts and flowers. It’s life.


Hemingway and Pound, a momentous friendship

The Circuitous Path of Papa and Ezra

What would you give…

to be able to read a never-before-published novel by Ernest Hemingway?

Another Joseph Cirelli painting

My brother sends me a photo of one of Grandpop’s paintings that I don’t remember ever seeing before.

I have photos of at least three others, still waiting for me to locate them among the phosphors and electronics in my life.

Steiner on karma



John Wolf on sharing process and practice

Sharing Process and Practice

by John Dorsey Wolf

One of the things which Frank has done through his work that I am very grateful for is sensitizing us to the process of receiving this material. We are all different but some aspects, such as “the useless questions”, apply to most of us.

After corresponding with Frank about the difficulties of my last posting, he thought it would be helpful to share the nature of the process I went through, “warts and all”.

For reference that posting is “On Power and Consequences” at: http://ofmyownknowledge.com/2016/12/18/john-wolf-on-power-and-consequences/

Continue reading John Wolf on sharing process and practice

Rita on explanations, belief, and truth

This excerpt from Rita’s World Vol. II may be of interest. From Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Explanations, belief, and truth

7 a.m. So, Rita, a simple question. Why should anyone pay attention to anything you say—or, from their perspective, anything I report you as having said? Why should anyone believe any of it?

They shouldn’t. It isn’t a matter of belief or disbelief. And nothing I have to say in answer to this question is anything very different from what you have been saying for years. Since we cannot know, we can only provisionally believe, and there is no resolution to it. So, to seek belief as a goal is sort of pointless. The question is not, “What can you make yourself believe?” but “What explanation explains and what explanation do I resonate to?”

The Church went wrong (and churches continue to go wrong) when they set out to reassure themselves of their own correctness by measuring how many people could be persuaded (then, eventually, coerced) to believe the same things. It is the mark of truth that people gravitate to it, or toward it anyway, when they encounter it. It is also the mark of truth that it is broader than any mind or set of beliefs can fully encompass; hence, it always appears different to different types of people. But truth cannot be contained. Hence, does not exist within containers. Hence, cannot be fixed, but is fluid.

And for those whose psychology inclines them to need a fixed unchanging truth?

They will find that aspect of truth, as those needing nuance will find the ever-shifting aspect of truth. The thing to remember is that truth is larger, broader, deeper, more nuanced, more unchanging, than a human mind. Reality is larger than our view of it, as fishbowls are always wider than the space they enclose and give form to.