The message in the bottle, sent by the universe, seems to say, “Love yourself first.” Maybe this means that if you don’t love and appreciate yourself, it is a kind of distorting lens that makes it impossible to love others.
So all my life I have worried that I don’t love myself. After all these years of spiritual work, I think that I have failed in this.
In the 1980’s I asked Baba Muktananda,
“How can I love myself?
“It’s easy!” he said, “Just as you love others.”
Easy? I don’t think so! And why would loving others show me how to love myself? This has been a koan all my adult life, and I still don’t get it.
I have a friend who fell on the corner of a table, resulting in a big gash on her face, extending from her nose to her chin. Her doctor said, “If you don’t love yourself, this will never heal.” Then and there, she said, she began to love herself.
As I listened to her, I thought that she had learned loving from the inside out – first for herself, and then radiating out to others. But I think I have learned loving in the opposite direction. So many people have loved me – my husband, my family, my teachers, my sangha – that I have learned loving from the outside in.
Yesterday was my birthday. I was sitting for a long time in our little Montara Mountain zendo. I realized:
Loving has no direction. Who is on the inside? Who is on the outside? Who is giving love? Who is receiving love? Isn’t there just loving?
Just this. Just loving.