Self-love is inoculation against all the evil that roams the earth and resides in the breasts of mankind. Self-love protects your individuality, it enhances your intuition and directs you to the truth.
Humans have an innate disposition to follow the herd because historically and anthropologically that’s what maximizes the chance of survival and keeping alive long enough to procreate. To individually investigate each activity or threat would not be cost-effective in that context. Living in herds is basically outsourcing thinking and analyzing to the leader to streamline all efforts into survival.
However since we have evolved past the critical phase of immediate threats to basic human needs, we don’t need to act on those ingrained impulses. In fact, doing so will put us in harms way by making us vulnerable to evil and opportunistic people who aren’t concerned at all about anyone’s well-being but their own.
For long I’ve wondered why when watching youtube videos for instance, I judge the content by the ratio of likes to dislikes and the top comments. It’s an easy way to gauge whether a video is worth my time. That’s because I’m on autopilot and looking for escapism. I can’t be bothered to use my critical thinking and gauge my intuition as to whether I like what I’m seeing or not.
The price of being in the backseat and not having to focus on the road is that you don’t control where you go and you’re completely at the mercy of the driver’s common sense that may very well be tainted by intoxication.
When you love yourself you respect and rely on yourself. You don’t outsource your life or decisions to others. You don’t whine about not liking the driver’s taste in music or reckless driving because you recognize that you made the choice to tag along. It’s not your car and therefore you don’t have the right to complain. You seek to create the conditions that favour you and the circumstances that make it possible for you to grow. All of that can only be achieved when you base your perspective and desires on unconditional love ( i.e. intrinsic love, not love garnered from others approval) and self-compassion.
Be the roots not the fruits. The roots aren’t all that exciting or tasty. They are hidden and very plain seeming. But they are perennial and from them the beauty of the tree springs forth. It contains all the nourishments and everything the plant need to survive. And when drought or storms or harsh winters lays the leaves and flowers to waste, the roots are grounded. They will give birth again and again, unfazed.
Send deep roots inside your soul and you don’t have to worry about creating a future. A grounded soul is the universe contained in a seed.
For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured.
And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.
Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.
When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.
A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.
So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.
– Hermann Hesse