I came across a quote attributed to the Buddha. It goes like this: “If you truly loved yourself, you would never harm another.” Pretty good quote – it’s exact translation is, like most religious texts, disputed, but the intent is obvious. If you truly loved yourself, hurting someone else would diminish who you are, and thus you’d never do it. I agree with this. But the real question is how?
How do we achieve such a state of love? We want to love ourselves, of course. And we don’t want to be harming people. So what do we do? Meditation? Ha! Most of us can’t sit still for ten seconds let alone meditate on the deeper meanings of love. Even if we did, is this going to help us love ourselves deep enough? Do even know what love is?
How can we know love, when we’re full of hate? It’s no fun to admit, but we’re consumed with anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, lust and much, much more. We’re selfish, wanting what we want when we want it. How do we free ourselves from these things? The short answer is we can’t. We need to be rescued from them. We need to be transformed – to be made new.
When we look at Jesus, we see some pretty interesting things. Jesus loves us completely, unconditionally, self-sacrificially, totally – right to his death. Because of this love, once we begin to understand and experience the depths of it, we begin to transform. As we continue to focus on Jesus, our ability to love increases. We grow in the ability to love like he does.
When we experience God’s love for us, personally, through his sacrifice, we are empowered and freed to reach out in love. Grace increases grace. Love increases love.
In light of Jesus, I would translate the intent of Buddha this way: Because the creator of the universe loves us fully, completely, personally, and self-sacrificially, when taken to heart, we can love like Jesus and never harm another. We could also put it this way, when our relationship with God is restored, our relationship with ourselves, others, and creation follows suit.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson