Authored for Psyched in San Francisco by Marty Cooper. Marty specializes in working with depression and anxiety. He helps clients gain insight but also practice skills for overcoming depression and anxiety.
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.--Buddha
If this time in history is a Tower of Babel, with twenty contradictory perspectives being dumped into your Facebook feed or cable channels daily, it only stands as a magnification of the human dilemma of what is true, trustworthy, and what is to be believed.
We are deluged in perspectives, externally from media, family, culture, teachers, friends, and internally from emotions, thoughts, and beliefs. "You should be chaste." "You should be a libertine." "I should be assertive." "You should be demure." "Life is dog eat dog." "Life is supposed to be cooperation," with ultimately the basic split being between, "Life is good," and, "Life is bad." What perspective we choose to believe in, to trust, determines much of what are life looks like, and what we do in it.
But for most of us, what we most basically trust goes unexamined, and therefore our beliefs are not seen as beliefs, but simply as reality. You can see this in the political rancor today; belief and perspective are conflated with reality and rectitude, with the results splashing across our screens and our own minds. But even knowing this fact that we have core beliefs, how do we sort through them all and choose?
So here's the proposition: What if we lived by the metric, "Trust only Love?
Well, first we have to figure out what that means, so let's distinguish between "hearing" and "trusting".
"Hearing" involves registering the existence of a signal, meaning, acknowledging information. "There is the sound of a car. My body is warm. There is a fear about the work project. I notice a desire for food." You don't need to trust it to register the signal. In contrast, "trust" involves letting in a perspective or signal because we believe it is true and believable. Trust is not driven by data, or by a thorough analysis of the situation or motivations ("Well, I trust what grandpa says because...he's my grandpa.")
Then defining Love: "Love" is that perspective in which there is no resistance to seeing what is true about us (warts and all), but in that seeing the only response is acceptance and cherishing.
Love says: "There's nothing fundamentally wrong with you or the world. Both are worthy by nature of acceptance, care, nourishment, and regard." Whereas shame asserts as true: "You are broken and unlovable, and the only way to be worthy is to not be yourself."
So, with those definitions, what if, while we heard all the perspectives, the only one we trusted was Love? Let yourself sit with the implications of this, and see what you feel about the idea.
Initially, you'll probably either feel "That's ridiculous!" or "That's great!" You may think that this is not a world that you can safely go around all loving all the time, so it's an impossible idea. Or, alternately, you might feel that there's nothing to lose in such a trust, so bring it on.
But in "only trusting Love," in only believing and trusting that you and the world are acceptable and cherishable, there are big changes that happen. One is that you simply stop trying to figure out whether something is lovable, since it's already been determined to be. That struggle ends. But it also means that inasmuch as you define your self (your identity) as shameful, and build your life around covering that over, or proving that's wrong, then that also collapses. Which is no small thing when our identities are equivalent to those nests built by birds that pick up anything--leaves, sticks, sharp metal--because having an uncomfortable nest is better than having none (and thereby plummeting to the ground). That "broken me" is lost. It also means that we will lose our membership in whatever groups (family, political, religious) we belong to, that require an un-Loving belief. That's no small cost.
But what about safety? On this count, Jesus nailed it: "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" (Mathew 10:16). I'd translate that as: "Hear everything, but trust only love."
It's true that, to survive, we have to keep our ears open for danger, of which the outer and inner worlds have no lack. Jesus was not silly about the world, did not endorse, as if a virtue, the laying one's dove-like heart in front of the wolves. We have to listen to the signals and not ignore them, of people trying to take advantage of us, of the pitfalls of taking a particular route in life, and internally, of the different emotions (including hate) and sensations that are trying to signal something to our conscious minds.
Still, though, what we choose to trust about these signals is not given.
So, "Trust only Love" is a radically simple metric for sorting through the inner and outer perspectives, to see how, despite their Babel-like quality, they break down into two simple categories: "There something wrong and broken, so run, or fix it!" and, "There's nothing essentially wrong or broken, so listen, respond appropriately, and enjoy."
Especially in this current time, when divisiveness, fear, shame are so forefront, and listening is so challenged, what is essentially an age old adage is well worth experimenting with. Not as belief or dogma, but as the result of experimentation: What happens if you "Trust only Love"?