The More We Love, the More We Can Love
By Eknath Easwaran
By Eknath Easwaran
Many years ago, when I took a bungalow on the Blue Mountain and went to live there with my mother, one of my uncles came to visit us. Uncle Appa had taught me Shakespeare and opened my eyes to the classics of Western literature. He spent a few days with us and admired the magnificent views down the mountain slopes: the tea plantations, the silver eucalyptus trees, the bright blue sky. He observed the stillness of the hill country and felt how clear and cool the air was at that height. Finally he gave me a warm smile, and with a knowing look he said, “I see now why you wanted this place. You want to write poetry.”
There had been a time not too long before when his guess would have been right. My passionate love of nature and my equally passionate love of poetry were really one love. They reinforced each other. And when I walked those beautiful curving roads on the Blue Mountain, whole passages from Wordsworth would come to mind:
Five years have past; five summers,
with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur. – Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
But I had already reached the stage in my life when neither the love of poetry nor of nature – not even the two together – could satisfy me completely. Slowly but surely, my deep love of nature and poetry was being transmuted into an all-consuming love of the Self. A new desire was stirring within me. I wanted, in the words of Thomas a Kempis, to be “enlarged.” I wanted to climb “above myself.”
Up until that period, I’d have insisted that my life was full and complete. I loved writing; I loved teaching English; and I loved my vacations, too! At the end of the term, right after my last class, the horse carriage would be waiting just outside the classroom with all my luggage aboard. I would jump on it, rush to catch the Grand Trunk Express, and be reunited with my family on the Blue Mountain two days later. My colleagues were very happy to see this. “What devotion to his family!” they would exclaim.
But now that I had begun to meditate, I knew all this was not enough. Mahatma Gandhi’s words went right into my heart when he said that if you don’t love everybody on earth, you are not a lover of God. It was not that I was coming to love my family less, but I was beginning to love those around me equally, because now my capacity for love was growing. It was all so mysterious to me, so new. A certain creative process had begun to work in me, and I had no idea what the final result would be. All I could do was cooperate.
This can happen to every one of us, over a long, long time. We start with our own family, our partner, our child, but then gradually we extend the circle of our compassion and affection to our neighbor. Slowly, it moves on down the street. In time, our new capacity to love is so strong that it won’t let us ignore the needs of homeless people on the other side of town. Then it extends to the county, then to the state. This is how it develops, and this is why it takes some years. We can say, “Oh, this is impossible!” But there is Saint Francis saying, “I have done it,” and Saint Teresa saying, “I have done it.” The more we love, the more we can love. This is what it means to enlarge ourselves in love.
This excerpt is from Eknath Easwaran's book Seeing With the Eyes of Love.