Two signals: Love oneself, one’s True self that is, not the ego-self, unconditionally; and Give love unconditionally, with healthy boundaries so that it is not co-dependent love.

These are huge challenges for me. One, I don’t know how to love myself. Two, I don’t know how to give love. Except in the way I do both things. If I were to consider how I could love myself, it would mean identifying my needs and acting upon them. I constantly make up lists of what I wish for: intimacy, freedom from debt, healthy and happy and upright children, simplicity, joyousness, health, not feeling overworked or overwhelmed, but able and willing to manage with a high level of job satisfaction, solid friends and excellent relations with family. There is dysfunction in all these areas, and one could ask: But is this True Self? The answer is, No. My True Self is the power that sustains me, that itself is an extension of the divine’s power to motor me, and hence dependent, or as Ibn Sina would say, conditional existence, and my aim is to bring my ego self, which has all these needs, into harmony with my True Self, which, with or without these things, is worthy of unconditional love on the part of my ego-self. With or without these needs being met, I must honor my True Self, and not confuse my ego-self and its paltriness with my True Self, what all the studies on atman all those years ago in Indian philosophy have been saying all along: that the mistake is to identify the atman with the jīva and with the śarīra, both of which are essential for the embodied self to function in this world of saṃsāra. So to honor the True Self that is the ground of my being, and which itself is dependent on the One for its own existence, for its eternality relies on absorption back into the Reality upon losing its discreteness appropriated at birth into the realm of name and form (nāma-rūpa) would mean appropriately viewing my ego-self as a thing-in-the-making, in which the struggle is to come into harmony with the True Self, which exhibits the characteristics of the divine names, whose reality is the One. That is what I have to honor in myself and in others. Their True Selves, and my True Self. But we negotiate through our ego-selves, and that is where we get lost. So the two are intimately connected: loving others unconditionally cannot be possible without understanding what it is about self that one needs must love unconditionally. It is navigating ego selves, both one’s own and that of others, that continuously puts awareness and praxis to the test.

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