When Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment, he replied “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”
Now that’s a difficult concept for me to grasp. First, how do I effectively love something. Second, to whom or to what am I actually directing this love. Third, what exactly is the interplay between the heart, soul, and mind — I’m not sure what those divisions are or how to love with each particular portion.
Jesus actually continued his answer and said, “This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
Aha! So, I think a logical conclusion is that this world and its inhabitants are a manifestation of God himself — and by loving the world and its inhabitants, we can love God.
The heart is of-the-body, and our body is firmly rooted in this world. Therefore, to delight in the sensations of this world, is to love God through the heart. It’s all the stuff we see, smell, hear, taste and touch — the physical things and people of the world — we can love God by loving the works-of-art he so lovingly created.
The soul is beyond the body, a part of us that’s not confined by this world. Therefore, to love God with our soul, we must meditate or pray or whatever it is that connects us with that portion outside ourselves. We demonstrate love with our focus and attention, so we must take time to focus on God and give Him our attention through meditative means.
The mind is the observer tying it all together, the consciousness that watches. In the mind we can paint pictures that inspire feelings of love and appreciation. With the mind we can devise logical conclusions based on lighthearted hopefulness (e.g. did this happen for a good reason? Yes, because God loves me!) The mind can be used as a tool to adjust our perspective, allowing us to see God and His creations in the best light possible.
So, by appreciating the spectacle of this world and all within it, meditating/praying, and deliberately imagining life as a pleasant experience, we can follow a practical approach to loving God with our heart, soul, and mind. But, Jesus said ALL our heart, ALL our soul, and ALL our mind — what about that? How do you effectively apply the entirety of your heart, soul, and mind? And for that matter, what exactly is love again?
In life, oftentimes we tend to feel love, and our actions align accordingly — yet, we often hurt the ones we love, so that’s not always true. If observing a scene, we know one character loves another by their focused attention, their tender treatment, and the level of respect shown. But of course, actions without feelings aren’t necessarily love. In love, we don’t choose our feelings, they simply appear within us. BUT, many stories do tell the tale of a cultivated love that develops over time following a period of intense focus (“Beauty and the Beast”, for example — or even “Stockholm Syndrome” in general for that matter).
So, we can in fact cultivate the feeling of love for God by maintaining a focus on God while seeing him as our provider and caretaker. And logically, this is pretty straightforward. For example: Despite my ignorance and lack of ability, there’s been a power maintaining my existence this entire time. It’s certainly not my “survival skills”. Life just tends to work out — but why? Clearly there’s an external force guiding me along a narrative, helping me to make it through.
Now, to apply ALL our heart, soul, and mind we’re going to have to use God as the foundational reason underlying EVERYTHING we encounter. For example, although we tend to love individual people, it’s really God’s manifestation we’re loving — and in a sense, God himself. And that delicious apple pie you just ate? Thank God! It was He that made the apple, He that made the farmer, He that inspired the baker, and He that developed the taste. Amazing! Thanks again, God!
Thinking about it, I suppose it’s not that difficult of a concept to grasp. The question then becomes, do you therefore dare to follow the greatest commandment? It’s like Morpheus and the Matrix — which pill do you choose? Really though, what’s there to lose? A pessimistic carnal existence filled with fear, uncertainty, and doubt — in favor of a life of hopefulness and love, a genuine heaven on Earth, a true communion with your creator…?
You have the ability to select either path — it’s upon this question that you ultimately exercise your free-will. So which will it be?