Friday, March 21, 2008

'Love' As Sacrifice (“Seek and Do Not Find”)

My first love was an adolescent infatuation with a girl that, at some level, I knew wasn’t ‘right’ for me—or better said, good for me. She was what we boys then called a ‘loose’ girl, an ‘easy’ girl; i.e., one with whom boys could have their way sexually. She, of course, attracted many boys. I chose to see myself as rejected by her. Thus I stood at a distance—a sad, deprived onlooker, unfulfilled, with a yearning spirit. At the same time, I also saw myself as more virtuous, ‘better’ than all the others, special in my virginity. But not happy. I mooned about, at times standing outside her house hoping to catch a glimpse of her, wanting her to notice me—even be attracted to me, yet fearful at the thought of it. At some level I’m sure I must have hated her. I know I was aware of contempt for myself.

As I reflect on this strange matter from my present perspective, it seems that I was choosing sacrifice and calling it love. Certainly it was all about need, but of course I denied that. I do know that I experienced a perverse pleasure in the deprivation, in the soulful longing. It was all very subtle, but at the same time an extremely intense and powerful state of mind. I had chosen a kind of martyrdom that gave me a sweet sense of uniqueness—of a special, even superior view of myself.

What was this all about? At the time I had no idea. But I was soon to find myself in a similar situation, apparently repeating the first scenario, but in an altogether different form.

As I have mentioned before, I lived at a time and in a setting colored by religious bigotry. If one married a Catholic girl, one had to raise the children within the Roman Catholic faith. As a Protestant, I found that injunction distastefully coercive and arrogant. So what did I do but ‘fall in love’ (a term certainly denoting helplessness and weakness) with a Roman Catholic girl during my senior year in high school. And during my absence from her while I served my years in the army during World War II, I yearned deeply for her from afar. Along with that yearning was the acute sense of being victimized by her religious faith. Despite the fact that somewhere deep inside me I knew this was not a suitable choice for me, I pined for her sorrowfully, feeling the sweet pain of deprivation for many, many months. Again I had chosen martyrdom.

It has taken me some time to understand these choices destructive of my happiness.

One thing seems clearer to me now when I try to understand these decisions for pain. I was cleverly involved in a scam. Having insanely given up any hope for love (in its true sense), I was attempting to manipulate those around me to be concerned for me, to pity and worry about me. Or, even more insidious, to attempt to create guilt in those who seem to have chosen some form of happiness for themselves—ignoring me. For as they looked upon my sense of unfulfillment, my soulful unhappiness, how could they continue on their happy way, ignoring me? I would make them stop and consider me. As I see it now, all this was an expression of hatred for those I saw as happier than I.

A Course in Miracles gives a metaphysical explanation for all this insanity. It says we have a part of our mind (the Ego) that fears love (the only love being the Love of God) and come to this world both to flee from that Love and seek to find it here. But that egotistical mind, having one motto, “Seek and do not find,”* leads us, if we listen to it, to choose the misery I’ve described above. My experience has led me to believe this is true for all of us and is responsible for the misery we see in the world. This helps me see other’s hatred—and my own—as a deep cry for love, which we all have been unsuccessfully seeking and not finding. Yet all the while possessing within our mind that essence of our creation—the holiness of Eternal Love (ACIM Workbook #36).

This seeking on my part led me to find Martha.—And certainly, she proved to be a very much better choice. At some level I must have been more willing to be able to begin the quest to understand what love was all about; more able to receive it, as well. It may well be that this willingness was the result of my experiencing the devastation I saw in war-ravaged Europe. I do not know. I know only that for sure I had made a fortuitous choice in Martha.

That does not mean that I gave up the insane idea of looking for love outside myself. That was to come much, much later. Nor does it mean that Martha was free of that idea (we all make the same mistake).

I cannot explain my choice of Martha without resorting to the idea that I was led to her. We use the word ‘luck’ for such a moment. On another occasion I used the metaphor of finding a gem. Actually, in 1945 while stationed with the Army in the Bavarian Alps, I visited the castle built by mad King Ludwig of Bavaria. As I wandered, almost alone, through that baroque structure, I found what I took to be a piece of glass that had fallen from the ceiling of one of the rooms. It was attractive and at the time I thought my mother might like it. Actually I stole it—looted it—as all occupying armies do. It turned out not to be glass, but a semi-precious stone.

It was like that with Martha. At the time I found her (or she found me) in the garbage-strewn alley in the Chicago slum where we both worked as college students one summer, I had no idea of the value of what I had found. She was far more than semi-precious; she was precious. But it did take my egotistical mind a number of decades to truly discover the value of what I had found.

Psychics have told me that Martha and I had decided before we came here that we would meet again, having spent a number of lifetimes together in different forms. I do not know about all that. But I do know my capacity to perceive the love she represented was due to my capacity to begin to see the same love in myself. Actually, to see that we were the same. The two following quotes from A Course in Miracles were important to both of us as we sought to free our minds from the Ego’s motto, “Seek and do not find:”

You are one Self with me. I honor you because of what
I am and what He is, Who loves us both as one. (Workbook 95, 15:4)


I give you to the Holy Spirit as part of myself. I know you will be released unless I want to use you to imprison myself. In the name of my freedom I choose your release, because I recognize we will be released together. (Text, Ch. 15, XI, 10:6)

It is so ironic that what we so desperately seek for we already possess, and fail to recognize its presence.

*ACIM Text Ch. 12, IV, 1:4.

Copyright 2007 Frank West

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