No Longer Playing It Safe

bell hooks

Reading by Liz Helgesen (Download file)

Awakin FeatureTo work for peace and justice we begin with the individual practice of love, because it is there that we can experience firsthand love’s transformative power. Attending to the damaging impact of abuse in many of our childhoods helps us cultivate the mind of love. Abuse is always about lovelessness, and if we grow into our adult years without knowing how to love, how then can we create social movements that will end domination, exploitation, and oppression?

To begin the practice of love we must slow down and be still enough to bear witness in the present moment. If we accept that love is a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect, and trust, we can then be guided by this understanding. We can use these skillful means as a map in our daily life to determine right action.

When we cultivate the mind of love, we are cultivating the good, and that means “recovering the incandescent power of love that is present as a potential in all of us” and using “the tools of spiritual practice to sustain our real, moment-to-moment experience of that vision.”

To be transformed by the practice of love is to be born again, to experience spiritual renewal. What I witness daily is the longing for that renewal and the fear that our lives will be changed utterly if we choose love. That fear paralyzes. It leaves us stuck in the place of suffering.

When we commit to love in our daily life, habits are shattered. Because we no longer are playing by the safe rules of the status quo, love moves us to a new ground of being. We are necessarily working to end domination. This movement is what most people fear. If we are to galvanize the collective longing for spiritual well-being that is found in the practice of love, we must be more willing to identify the forms that longing will take in daily life.

Folks need to know the ways we change and are changed when we love. It is only by bearing concrete witness to love’s transformative power in our daily lives that we can assure those who are fearful that commitment to love will be redemptive, a way to experience salvation.

Gloria Jean Watkins, better known by her pen name bell hooks, is an American author, professor, feminist, and social activist. Excerpt above from this article.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the notion that to be transformed by the practice of love is to be born again? Can you share a personal story of a time you experienced such a transformation? What helps you transcend fear and commit to loving?

Add Your Reflection:

7 Previous Reflections:

  • link
    On Apr 8, 2019 jerard lizares wrote:
    Transformation of love is to live a life with God. We overcome the fear of committing love as we let ourselves live with the trust in God that things will be alright in all walks of life.

    Post Your Reply
  • link
    On Apr 5, 2019 Keith wrote:
    Currently going through a difficult relationship with another sangha (Buddhist group of practicioners) member. It's like the proverbial thorn in the lion's paw. (I'm very strong-willed.) Last night I made up my mind to love him regardless of his rejection or acceptance. I'm determined to do this for the strength of the sangha as well as my own inner strength. I guess I could say that I felt some kinda "born again" experience in my resolve.

    Post Your Reply
  • link
    On Apr 3, 2019 Quacinda wrote:
    I really appreciate this profound and thoughtful reading; thank you. And thank you Creator for my life, for life and love all around me, and others who share this experience of love with me.

    Post Your Reply
  • link
    On Apr 2, 2019 Judith E Simpson wrote:
    I have discovered that love multiplies. It never divides. This is an amazing and humbling way to live. I have lived what some would call a very long time. I hope I live this way for the rest of my existence. 

    Post Your Reply
  • link
    On Mar 30, 2019 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    I love this beautiful passage. Pure love, non-possessive and unconditional love, is the key to transformation, spiritual renewal. The old shackles of fear, anger and abuse are shattered by cultivating skillful means of love. Such love frees us from the past abuse and brings clarity and inner strength to love ourselves and others in our life authentically. Such spiritual awakening gives us a new birth. Last week a young grandsonof a grandmother we know came to our house for a weekend visit. His grandmother has been holding on a deep emotional wound she had received from her daughter who happens to be the motherof this young man. She has displaced her anger against her daughter to her grandson and she refused to come to see him and have a dinner with him. The grandson loves his grandmother in spiteof her wrath towards him. He had bought a bouquet of flowers for his grandmother hoping she would come to see him and eat with her. Both my daughter and I asked her to let go of her displaced a... [View Full Comment] I love this beautiful passage. Pure love, non-possessive and unconditional love, is the key to transformation, spiritual renewal. The old shackles of fear, anger and abuse are shattered by cultivating skillful means of love. Such love frees us from the past abuse and brings clarity and inner strength to love ourselves and others in our life authentically. Such spiritual awakening gives us a new birth.
    Last week a young grandsonof a grandmother we know came to our house for a weekend visit. His grandmother has been holding on a deep emotional wound she had received from her daughter who happens to be the motherof this young man. She has displaced her anger against her daughter to her grandson and she refused to come to see him and have a dinner with him. The grandson loves his grandmother in spiteof her wrath towards him. He had bought a bouquet of flowers for his grandmother hoping she would come to see him and eat with her. Both my daughter and I asked her to let go of her displaced anger towards her innocent young grandson. We asked her let that anger go and come and bless her grandson. She agreed and came to bless her grandson and we all ate together. What an uplifting, touching, joyous and never forgetting experience! This is the transformative power of love.
    I did not have to work on myself to transcend fear to love significant people in my life. I was blessed to have people who has accepted me and loved me in spite of my failures and shortcomings as I grew up. Such loving experiences have enkindled the spirit of love in me. I am very grateful to those people. Though all of them have passed away, I cherish them in my heart.
    Namaste to them who loved me unconditionally![Hide Full Comment]

    Post Your Reply
  • link
    On Mar 30, 2019 David Doane wrote:
    For me at this point, love means union. Once upon a time it was falling in love with and union with individuals that was transforming via excitement and losing myself and finding more of myself and expanding myself. Now that I am older, the practice of love is more general and spiritual. That is, I've come to feel union to some degree with all others and with all that is, which has been transforming and is my born again into being more kind, patient, understanding, compassionate. I have experienced such transformation being with my wife, being with my children, interacting with other people, and being with natural miracles such as looking out ito the Milky Way on a clear star filled night. I'm not feeling fear in loving these days -- I think what helps me to transcend fear is knowing how fulfilling loving is.

    Post Your Reply
  • link
    On Mar 28, 2019 sheetal wrote:
    Thank you for this superb passage. How we all long for love but are afraid to practice it or even embrace it when its in front of us in many ways. Recently, i have been experiencing "shattering of habits" by practice of love. The work-in-progress that began with only embracing love and leaving all other stories, attachments, coloring, perceptions and expectations has given rise to a sense of silence where only flowing from heart exists. With continued practice the intellect is able to understand the rest of the aforementioned as noise that disturbs the peaceful flow of love in thoughts, speech and action and has become more observant. As it is WIP there's a gradual transformation taking place, giving space to more openness and acceptance to commit to loving and thereby to being born again. Being born again thus, also helps heal old patterns and the movement from abused lovelessness to abundant lovingness emerges.

    Post Your Reply

Search Awakin Readings

Or search by year or author.

Subscribe to Weekly Email

Every week, we send out a digest with a reading and inspiring stories to our global community of 92,092 people. Subscribe below.

(unsubscribe)

Contact Us

If you'd like to suggest a thought or want to drop us a suggestion, drop us a note.