Saturday, 15 February 2014

Ordinary Love

When I first heard the new U2 song 'Ordinary Love', released with the film 'Mandela', I was deeply moved and felt grateful that such a huge group with a worldwide audience were delivering the message that we need ordinary love. Something inside me has been cheering ever since. The same wee beating heart that as a girl so wanted Nelson Mandela released from prison.

So why would ordinary love feel better to contemplate than the glittery, head over heels, weak at the knees, once-in a lifetime love that is so focussed on in our culture? 

In the weeks since first hearing the song I have been feeling into what this ordinary love is and why we need such songs as U2s to be reminded of how invaluable it is.

It is what's absent from ordinary love that sets it aside from most of our notions of love. It is love without 'what's in it for me', without giving only to receive. It is love without conditions. In the midst of this love we are not people transacting but people in shared awareness, experiencing this precious moment together.

Ordinary love does not jangle or sparkle, it is invisible and as plain and nourishing as clean air and water. It allows us to enter into harmony with all of life.

Half of the mindfulness meditation approach involves the cultivation this ordinary love, what we call loving-kindness or befriending. In one of these meditations we send loving-kindness to three different people in our lives - those we love with ease, those we are indifferent towards and those we find difficult. We send each person good wishes regardless of whether we think they deserve it or not, using such words as, 'May you be happy, may you be safe, may you be free'. 

Loving-kindness is not practised to pretend to be some holy or perfect person, but to melt away the resentments, hatreds and indifferences that cause ill health and imbalance within us. When we hold on to our upset it doesn't get properly processed enough to leave us with a sense of how to proceed wisely. We get stuck in the hurt and never move to the wisdom. 

When it comes to difficult people in our lives this can mean we never really resolve anything, get closure or move beyond feeling bad about them. It is amazingly liberating and relaxing to fully feel our hurt and then wish someone well. To let it go. Not that we will necessarily want to meet that person for coffee or even speak to them. This is not about 'behaving' or keeping the peace at the cost of your own inner peace. It's about empowerment and reality. Love does not always mean being best buddies.

Are we tough enough for Ordinary Love?

This is one of the most powerful lines in the song. Are we tough enough to let go of our small and lonely self-interest and open up to the grand and noble self-interest, that which Anthony de Mello called 'enlightened self-interest', where we invest our energies in love that is good for us AND good for all.

With love

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