Dealing with Low Self-Worth, Uncategorized

Love is the Oldest and Wisest Thing

Most of spend a great deal of time looking for love.

We look for others to love us, and many of us spend a great deal of time figuring out we can better in some way so that we can finally love ourselves. I think it often feels like it is difficult to find love and that we never have enough.

But what if love is very easy to find? What if love is the oldest thing in you and in the world, and it is right there waiting for us to be still and see it (or hear or feel it)? This may sound too good to be true, but this is actually something that many people have written about for a very long time.

The pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles suggested that everything that is was born into state of oneness through Love and then became many things through Strife. He writes, “And these things never cease continually interchanging, at one time all coming together into one by Love, and at another each being borne apart by the hatred of Strife.”[1]

While these two forces always exist together, Empedocles suggests that Love is the primary force, it is always seeking after everything, and the goal of the world is to return to Love once again. He writes, “But as far as it would continually run out ahead, so far continually would follow in pursuit the gentle immortal onset of blameless Love.”[2]

The DaoDeJing seems reflect a similar idea when it speaks about The Way that gives birth to all living things and nurtures them. We read in chapter 34 of Book 1,

How expansive is the great Way!

Flowing to the left and to the right.

The myriad creatures rely on it for life, and it turns none of them away.

When its work is done it claims no merit.

It clothes and nourishes he myriad creatures, but does not lord it over them.

The Dao tells us that the great Way is “smooth and easy”[3] and that one of the primary ways we find it is through practicing love (loving-kindness) towards everyone and everything.[4]

Augustine makes a similar point, I think, in his Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love, when he tells us that everything real comes from God, and it is good. Love is the primary attribute of God, and so this love is present in what is real in us and the world. This is probably why Augustine says  “Love, and do what you will.”[5]

When we practice love, we connect with the oldest, most real, and wisest part of us and the world. So if you are looking for love, consider that Love is already right next to you and deep inside of you. Be silent and practice loving-kindness. You will find the love you are looking for.

I have written more about practicing loving-kindness here.

The deepest and wisest thing


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[1] Empedocles, Fragment 48

[2] Ibid

[3] DaoDeJing, Book 1, chapter 53

[4] Ibid, chapter sixty-seven

[5] You can find a copy of this sermon here:

Augustine’s Love Sermon


Works Cited

Empedocles. A Pre-Socratic Reader: Selected Fragments and Testimonia. Patricia Curd, ed. Hackett Publishing Co. Indianapolis, IN: 1996.

Laozi. DaoDeJingReadings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. Philip J. Ivanhoe and Bryan Van Norden, ed. Hackett Publishing Co. 1996.ndianapolis, IN: 2001.


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