The first part of this, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” is a real challenge for some. “What if I don’t love myself? How do I love myself?” It isn’t a given that you love yourself, so we must start there. What does it mean to love yourself, and how do you love yourself?
Sometimes you love yourself by eating cookies or buying yourself a present. Or you might try to improve yourself to become more loveable. If more people love you, you think, then maybe you’ll love yourself. Too often, loving yourself means either indulging yourself or doing something to try to get others to love you. But that’s not what I’m talking about. These are the ego’s solutions to not loving yourself.
So, let’s talk about the ego for a moment, since the ego is the reason that people don’t love themselves. The ego is the conditioned self and the sense of yourself as an individual, apart from others. It is reflected in the voice in your head, especially in all the thoughts that begin with “I.” The ego is the sense of me, who I am, who I want to be, who I was in the past, who I will be, what I want and don’t want, and what I like and don’t like. The ego is made up of all the beliefs you have about yourself and what you believe others believe about you.
The ego is not actually real but only a sense of self built on a set of beliefs about who you are. This set of beliefs is not who you are, nor do these beliefs accurately reflect who you are, which is why the sense of self created by the ego is called the false self, as opposed to the true self, the divine self.
The ego wouldn’t be a problem in terms of loving yourself if the beliefs associated with the ego and the false self were not so negative, limiting, and untrue. The problem is that the ego and the false self it creates is an unhappy self because, at its core, it feels fearful, lacking, inadequate, vulnerable, and not good enough. What’s worse is that these feelings cause you to be unkind to others, which makes you feel even worse about yourself.
That’s why you may not love yourself and why you may have difficulty loving others: You believe the beliefs that are part of your egoic programming. You believe you are this negative, unhappy self, and believing this causes you to function poorly and behave badly toward others. Since everyone has a similar ego and conditioning, all of humanity suffers similarly.
The truth, however, is that you are a divine being, a spiritual being, an extension of God, who is temporarily playing at being human and who has an ego but is not the ego. Your ego makes you feel bad and behave badly, but your essential nature is goodness, just as God is goodness. In truth, your true self, the divine self, is the only self that exists, while the false self is a mirage.
You are not the false self. You are the divine self, but the divine self allows you to have the experience of being the false self. The divine self allows itself to become lost in the illusion of the false self until a certain point in your spiritual evolution when you awaken from this illusion. Most of humanity has yet to awaken, but many more people are awakening today than ever before.
What’s difficult about loving yourself is loving the false self, the negative sense of self created by the ego and other conditioning. When you believe yourself to be this sense of self, you feel small, weak, lacking, unkind, judgmental, fearful, angry, and unhappy—and that self is difficult to love. What isn’t difficult to love is your divine self—who you really are—because that self is pure goodness, pure love. Who you really are, your divine self, is completely lovable because your divine self is love.
Some people are easy to love because they reflect their divine nature so closely. The opposite is also true: The farther away people are from reflecting their divine nature (the more they reflect their egoic nature), the more difficult they are to love. You naturally love that which is of love, and you naturally shy away from or are repelled by that which is not of love.
Everyone has an ego, and the ego is not of love. The ego is also not evil, although it is behind all acts you would consider evil. The ego is not a thing or an entity; it’s just programming to take care of #1. This programming causes you to be self-serving, self-centered, fearful, distrusting, defensive, and aggressive.
The ego is just a sense of self, however, not something real or true. A sense of self is nothing tangible, nothing that can’t be fairly easily overlooked if its lack of realness is pointed out. The ego is programming that causes you to see life, yourself, and others through a particular lens, one tainted by fear, judgment, limitation, smallness, and a sense of lack.
The egoic programming creates a sense of being under attack or threatened by others and by life. The ego is in fear much of the time and, therefore, divorced from love. This fear is an illusion, an imagination of something fearful in the future, not based on an actual threat in the here and now.
However, when you are identified with this very primitive part of yourself, you believe in the ego’s fears and try to protect yourself any way you can, usually by trying to attain more wealth, comfort, power, security, control, success, popularity, and admiration—all things that make the ego feel safer, at least temporarily.
Everyone knows what the ego is and what it feels like because the egoic state of consciousness is the state most people live in—but not always. Sometimes the ego relaxes—you relax—and you return home to your divine nature. You feel at peace, you are content and happy, you feel good—until the ego returns, and you feel lacking, afraid, striving, stressed-out, discontent, confused, and unhappy once again.
These are two very different states of consciousness, which everyone is aware of: the state of being identified with your ego and the state of being identified with your divine self. The spiritual path and spiritual growth are all about learning to shift your state and express your divine self increasingly in the world.
It is impossible to truly love yourself when you’re identified with the ego. You can feel good about yourself and good in general momentarily—proud and elated over some success. But if loving yourself is dependent on winning or achieving something, then you’ll never love yourself or feel good for long before you’ll need to win or achieve something else to feel that way again. When you’re identified with the ego, loving yourself is a fleeting experience.
Sadly, the love for yourself, or pride, that comes from winning often doesn’t translate into being more loving or kind, into “loving your neighbor as yourself.” Instead, many who’ve achieved something of merit hold themselves above and apart from others. No, feeling good about yourself for having achieved something is not the kind of love that leads to loving your neighbor.
Being proud of yourself is not the same as loving yourself. Feeling good about yourself is feeling good about the false self, and involvement with the false self can never lead to truly loving yourself or your neighbor. And unlike love, pride doesn’t actually feel good, which is proof that pride comes from the ego.
The only thing capable of loving anything, including oneself, is the divine self, the Christ within you, the goodness/Godness within you. The ego doesn’t know how to love, not even itself. To love yourself, you must be in touch with that which loves: the Divine within you.
That could be particularly difficult if you don’t believe that the Divine—God—resides within you, that Christ abides in you as well as in me. If you believe that you are a sinner and separate from God, as many Christians are taught, you may not be aware of your own divinity, of your own inherent loving nature, as much as you could be. In truth, God is not separate from you. You are God as much as I am. You are an expression of God.
It’s ironic that Christianity extols love but makes it difficult for people to love themselves by telling them they are sinners, by keeping them tied to fear, and by holding me up as the only son of God, when I was not. I was different from most only because I had realized the truth of my divine nature. The reason I came was to show you how to bring your Christ-like attributes forward and live as I did. I was and am a model for what you can be. I did not come to be worshipped.
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"Even if you might struggle with the authorship of this book being the historical Jesus, the powerful messages and advice contained within resonate with the heart in such a way that renders authorship largely irrelevant. Its advice on spiritual work is relatively simple to practice and, in my humble opinion, really works. Having read many hundreds of well-meaning 'spiritual' books over the years, if I had to choose only one that told the whole story in a simple, direct, and unambiguous manner, this would be the volume I would choose, and this would be the volume that I would base my entire spiritual practice upon. Strongly recommended for all spiritual seekers..” ~ John Q.
“I have been a student of every sort of spirituality out there for most of my life, including A Course in Miracles. In my humble opinion, Gina Lake has what I call the perfect distilled message. She offers a heartfelt way to let go of the voice in our heads and live as our true self. Her books are wonderful and feel soothing to read or listen to, and I can’t recommend them enough, especially on audio. They are very relaxing to listen to. I’ve actually bought several of her books and given them to friends as gifts. If you love the message in these books, please share, the planet needs it!” ~ C. Brooks.
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“A powerful book on love. A wise, loving, nonjudgmental, and uplifting book. Thank you, Gina, for bringing his needed message to the world.” – Michael D.
“Fantastic book! How to use the First Commandment: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ This is an Owner's Manual for human beings. Thank you, Jesus and Gina Lake!” – Roger D.
“Profound teachings and transmissions. Awakening to Love, Gina Lake’s most recent book, rings profoundly true. I have read many of Gina’s books and listened to her companion audiobooks. There are deep teachings within them, to guide the reader in a process of awakening to their true nature. Gina’s gift as a channel allows Jesus’s messages to permeate one’s being on many levels, as the energy of the Master is transmitted through the words. I am deeply grateful to Gina and to Jesus for these teachings and transmissions.” – Ariana
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