“Home,” I thought, almost wanting to shout the word out loud. I was back home in Brooklyn last weekend, walking through Prospect Park as I have done thousands of times over the decades that I lived near there. Home: though I will likely never live there again, I will never stop knowing it as home. I owe that park a lot: it has given me so much and asked nothing in return. We can only give back to our home the same gifts it brought us: awareness, presence, and love. This is true also of the home inside us.
Love doesn’t make sacrifices, only investments. Anything given from the heart is returned to the giver, multiplied. This is such a common experience that it is a wonder why it isn’t adumbrated as a natural law.
Yet we remain, all too readily, suspicious and cynical. Why? Is it because many of us have never had that experience of seeing love’s ROI [Return On Investment]? That could be part of it. Is it because we are so deeply trained in the cult of sacrifice — through our religions, our moralistic acculturation, and our potty-training in the fathomless debt-culture known as Duty? That would seem to comprise much of the substance of those hard shells of fear and defense, with which we burden ourselves and our lives.
But I’d like to take this all the way back to certain fixed ideas about love itself. Many of us are deeply poisoned with the belief that love is, as Lao Tzu ironically observed, “a game of inner commerce.” This is where the economic metaphor I began with breaks down; for love is not a capitalist emotion. Specifically, love does not calculate. Calculation is fueled by expectation; true love has no expectations. Therefore, love’s return is not a payback in the capitalist sense — it is far more real and enduring than that.
Yet we are trained to feel a sense of ownership of and by our beloved. It just occurred to me again recently as I was looking at the heart-shape on the planet Pluto that recently raged across the World Wide Web: I imagined the words “Be Mine” across that shape.
Now this is obviously about more than messages on Valentine’s candy; it is about an emotional cult of ownership. For though possession, as the bromide goes, may be nine-tenths of the law; it is in fact the antithesis of Love. Wherever there is a claim, love is gone. Whenever a stake is planted in its ground, the heart sickens. And possession is the very essence of our cultural ideas of love, even of its experience for many of us. The marriage vow opens not with the words, “I love thee,” but “I take thee…”
Possession is a kind of madness, perhaps one of the defining signs of interpersonal neurosis. It is no coincidence, I suspect, that the word possession also means a mental or spiritual state in which one is taken over by a demon, witch, or malevolent spirit. For many people, to possess is to be possessed.
So psychologically, possession is less about the pursuit of material than it is about the defense of a delusion. That delusion is security — the safe certainty of owning and being owned, with all the walls of tradition and law that are typically built up around that airy complacency, which Krishnamurti consistently exposed for us:
The confidence of a man who can do things, who is capable of achieving results, is always coloured by this arrogance of the self, the feeling, “It is I who do it”. So, in the very act of achieving a result, of bringing about a social reform within the prison [of society], there is the arrogance of the self, the feeling that I have done it, that my ideal is important, that my group has succeeded. (from Think on These Things)
This arrogance is not the action of love — it is, in fact, the active expression of fear. This is what happens to security when it becomes the object of a cult of possession. Whatever is owned must also be guarded: this is the political religion of our current era, in which the founding principles of a nation are sacrificed to a god named Security and Its only begotten son, Possession.
Krishnamurti contrasted that paper complacency that is the confidence of arrogance with another kind of confidence, which he called the “confidence of innocence.”
Now, if you can see through this whole social structure, the cultural pattern of the collective will which we call civilization…then you will find that there comes a confidence which is not tainted with the sense of arrogance. It is the confidence of innocence. It is like the confidence of a child who is so completely innocent he will try anything.
Christ told us that you have to be like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven, didn’t he? What if he meant exactly the same thing as Krishnamurti — “It is this innocent confidence that will bring about a new civilization; but this innocent confidence cannot come into being as long as you remain within the social pattern.”
The money-changers and their corruption, their arrogance, are always in the temple; for the temple is within our selves. Therefore, just as Christ saw the necessity to violently usurp their position (knocking over the trading tables in the temple), Krishnamurti urges us that “it is only those who are in constant revolt that discover what is true, not the man who conforms, who follows some tradition.” True love never conforms to any rule, any law, any tradition; it never looks beyond itself for authorization. The priest and the politician deal only in fear and acquisition; but the utterly free individual expresses the natural courage of innocence and its abundance. As Lao Tzu said, love gives endlessly yet is never depleted. Where there is love, there is never lack.
Perhaps this is what I meant by love being defined by investment rather than sacrifice. It is a well that never goes dry. The one who loves truly never runs out of resources, for love is self-nourishing, self-replenishing. So its investment is not toward a return or reward; love’s investment is in itself, for that is all it needs.
The beauty and importance of the home out-here cannot be slighted. If the chance arose that would call me back to Brooklyn — to home — I would be there in less than a heartbeat. But, especially amid dislocation, the home in-here must be given as much pride of place as our sincerity, humility, and self-awareness can provide it.