by Mahmoud Nadgeem
The question of love has been broached several times now in these pages, and it is clear that people are amply curious about it.
But perhaps the texture of some of our conversations now also makes it clear that we need to begin with the social concepts of respect and politeness. It is all very much a matter of a learning process to be accomplished in graduated steps. As the I Ching says, when it is a matter of teaching one begins with the obvious and proceeds from there.
After all, we know that the really small child or baby does not really love us.
It is not mature enough.
This is because maturation is a process over time.
But if all goes well then these little creatures will grow to trust us. That is a far greater responsibility of course and if we handle it in the right way, then these little children will grow up who really can love us and one another, as mature adults — and beyond.
Among many other things we are responsible for teaching our young good manners.
But the question remains, how can we get this across when we prefer to forget about it all in our transactions with one another?
Si’ Smit’, er, Smeeth reminds me that a saying in the AA club for people who are quitting the use of alcohol and drugs is: “First things first!”
This of course reminds me in turn that AA in its inception in the 1930s is a good example of a specific Sufi type of operation. Remedial operations, like instruction of students, ultimately are always particular and fitted to exact situations and the needs of people in them. Our exact situation here and the tone of some comments indicates we need to spend some time thinking about courtesy — and, what are some of the things that are concealed at the heart of all good manners.
In just the same way as the little child learning to speak is often taught by doting grandparents to say the words “I love you” long before they can possibly know what these mean, so we must begin the practice of love with the practice of polite manners.
An improved capacity for actual love will follow in due course and so learning proper etiquette for starters in our case is the path greatly to be preferred, for when once you have experienced love through loving, you then will not need to try to make do with demanding always inadequate verbal definitions.
As some of you indeed do have AA experience, you will understand mean when I say it is all the difference in the World between absinthe — and just talking about it all the time!
[Emmett R Smith
[all transcription-rights reserved
[2 January 2008]