The Practice Of The Art Of Loving

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3. THE PRACTICE OF THE ART OF LOVING General requirements for the practice of an art: Discipline To get up at regular hours, to devote a regular amount of time in activities such as meditation, reading, listening to music, and walking. Not to indulge in escapist activities like mystery stories, movies and television. Not to over-eat or to over-drink.

It is essential that discipline should not be practiced like a rule imposed from the outside, but as an expression of one's own will. It should be felt as pleasant and as something which would be missed if one stopped practicing it.

Concentration The most important step in learning concentration is to learn to be alone with oneself without reading, listening to the radio, looking at television, eating, smoking or drinking.

Paradoxically, the ability to be alone is the condition for the ability to LOVE.

One must try to be concentrated in everything one does.

Most people "communicate" with others or even give advice without really listening.

To be concentrated means: to live fully in the present, to live in the here and the now, and not to live in the past or the future.

We only can learn to be sensitive to another human being if we have experience to be sensitive to ourselves.

Patience If one is after quick results, one never will learn an art. Our whole industrial system fosters exactly the opposite: quickness.

Supreme concern with the mastery of the art If the art is not considered as something of supreme importance, the apprentice will never learn it.

Qualities which are of specific significance for the art of loving.

Absence of narcissism (Narcissism: only experiencing as real that which exists within oneself, while the phenomena in the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are experienced only from the viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to oneself) Development of humility, objectivity and reason.

Rational faith rooted in one's own experience of thought and feeling: faith in oneself, faith in the friend or the lover, faith in the potentialities of others, faith in mankind.

To have faith requires courage, the ability to take a risk, the readiness even to accept pain and disappointment.

Activity: not "doing something" but an "inner activity", the productive use of one's power.

To be fully awake is the condition for not being bored, or being boring, and consequently the main condition for loving.

4. LOVE AND ITS DISINTEGRATION IN CONTEMPORARY WESTERN SOCIETY (CAPITALISM) Modern capitalism needs men, who co-operate smoothly and in large numbers, who want to consume more and more, and whose tastes are standardized and can be easily influenced and anticipated (McDonalds!).

What is the outcome? Modern man is alienated from himself, from his fellow men, and from nature. He has been transformed into a commodity, experiences his life forces as an investment which must bring him the maximum profit obtainable under existing market conditions. Human relations are essentially those of alienated automatons. While everybody tries to be as close to the others, everybody remains utterly alone, pervaded by the deep sense of insecurity, anxiety and guilt.