(Posted on: May 7, 2013 by David McMillin)
[NOTE: While serving as mentor for an online version of “A Search For God” study group and working on the Love lesson, a class member explained that she had been operating under the assumption that the opposite of love is indifference. She wondered if it is possible that love has no opposite. In a previous post she had used the symbol of the circle as an aid to understanding polarities (duality) that are just 180 degree points on the circle. The circle image makes it possible to appreciate the action of opposites while also providing flexibility for changing viewpoints based on position on the circle – a simple but elegant approach to Oneness by transcending dualism. A second reply on this topic to a different class member is also provided below. – David McMillin]
If you apply your circle symbol to transcend the duality of love and its opposite (indifference if that is the dichotomy that you accept), maybe there is room for both in relationships, at times. There are 24 Cayce readings that use the expression "loving indifference" and they sometimes make a distinction between what we normally think of as indifference and "loving indifference." It seems more like the non-attachment or "letting go" of Buddhism. In many cases, the circumstances were what we might think of today as dependency, or co-dependency where love is very entangled with some feelings and behaviors that are not entirely constructive. So some space in the relationship may be healthy in terms of boundaries, avoidance of manipulation, etc. And yet the connection is maintained in love that is impersonal, if that makes sense.
Imagine a child throwing a tantrum just to get its own way and the parent adopting an attitude of loving indifference to the attempted manipulation. Yes, explain to the child why it can't have its way, etc. But don't buy into the tantrum or react by throwing your own tantrum – just be indifferent to it, all the while loving the child. Just a thought.
Here are some more excerpts from the Cayce readings that describe loving indifference in application. Hope this is helpful, Dave.
(Q) How should she [seventeen-year-old girl] be treated by her family?
(A) In that manner which may be called as loving indifference to the temperamental outbursts; not condemnation, but in that of quiet, peaceful contemplation with the body as to the manner in which the personality may be made for constructive influences or forces in the experience. (352-1)
(Q) When will the associations be terminated?
(A) That depends upon the activity or the wills of each. Not that they should be severed with the disregard or hate or malice, or the fruits of the evil forces; but rather as with loving INDIFFERENCE.
(Q) Have my associations been helpful to this individual?
(A) Helpful, as has been indicated.
(Q) Please give a plan of treatment to follow in dealing with this individual.
(A) Where there may be aid given, give it. But BUSY thyself rather in other fields of activity, letting the indifference be as an act of service in other directions. (603-2)
(Q) How can I be of greatest help to my present husband? ?
(A) Disappointments and differences have arisen. Do not WITHDRAW, but rather let thy associations be as a LOVING indifference. Not mindful of the slights and slurs, yet knowing that indeed and in truth as YE sow, so shall YE reap – in thy relationships with him, as well as he with thee. Do to him, under ANY circumstance, as ye would have him do to you. (1125-1)
(Q) What could I do to bring closer harmony and love between my present husband, […] and my son, […] and what causes this friction?
(A) The experiences in other sojourns. As for self, be lovingly indifferent to each as to their relationships; sowing the seeds of harmony and leaving the results to God. For not of thyself may ye overcome, but in their own experiences must such be met. (3377-1)
(Q) Regarding the situation which has arisen between the friend who went abroad with me and myself. Please explain this, and how I can meet it.
(A) These conditions arise from former differences of opinion. And there has been gradually builded an antagonism that may only be melted with loving indifference.
This, to be sure, at first may be called contradictory. For how CAN there be LOVING indifference?
How gave He, thy pattern?
When there arose those experiences when others were called to His presence and they said, "See, these in thy name heal the sick, cast out demons, yet they gather not with us. Rebuke them." But what was His answer? "Nay; nay, not so – for they that gather not with us scatter abroad the praises. Leave them, lest they turn again upon YOU and use that thou hast done to thine own confusion." [Paraphrasing of Matt. 9:49, 50; Luke 11:23; Matt. 7:6.]
Then thy attitude should be:
"LORD, THEY ARE THINE, AS I AM THINE. I AM WILLING. I FORGIVE. I PRESENT THE PROBLEMS TO THEE. USE ME, USE THEM, IN WHATEVER MAY BE THY WILL IN THE MATTER."
This then puts thee in that position that there is no stumblingblock, and that becomes then LOVING indifference. For ye have left it in the hands of the Creator, who alone can give life and withdraw it. (1152-2)
(Q) What can I do to overcome my anger at her treatment of my friend and her benefactor, ?
(A) Just as has been indicated.
These conditions to be sure become such wherein the individual of self, the individual of thy neighbor as thyself, thy friend as thyself would be considered. These must not be taken other than in the manner as just indicated – if peace and harmony would be brought about.
For remember, He is right in that given, "The soft answer turneth away wrath," and in that a gentleness, a kindness meted to those that have been and are in error but heapeth coals upon the mind, the heart, of those who have erred.
Then only in LOVING indifference may the conditions be met.
What, ye say, is loving indifference?
Acting as if it had not been, save disregarding as if they were NOT.
Not animosity; for this only breeds strife. Not anger; for this only will produce mentally and physically the disturbances that become as physical reactions that prevent meeting every phase of the experience; whether in the good, the hope, the help ye mete to others, or in keeping self – as has been given for self – unspotted from the CARES of the world. (1402-2)
(Q) What is the basic cause of the hostility, antagonism, and resentment manifested toward me by , and is there anything I can, or should do about it?
(A) Should DO loving indifference. It arises from misunderstanding of the experiences which arose from the associations, not wholly in conjunction but – as might be termed – in collaboration, at those periods when the children were – to the material mind – persecuted.
Hence there should be the attitude of no malice to any, no condemning to or towards any, but rather "Lord, forgive them, they know not what they do." (1472-12)
(Q) What policy should be taken in reference to business affairs with my wife's family? and to improve harmony between us?
(A) Let that same loving indifference that is part and parcel of each – the wife – the self – remain. Never use harsh methods that will bring self-condemnation in any manner. Let thine self know thou hast done wisely by doing the proper condition and thing, EVER. This will bring harmony in no uncertain manner; for so doing, one brings those conditions that CANNOT be combated in ANY manner. This indifference is not ordinary indifference, but loving indifference – that of knowing the heart, the mind, the purpose in self, is correct, and in keeping with that that is progressive in every sense. (2709-2)
[This is another reply for the Loving Indifference exercise, to a different class member.]
This exercise can be a difficult one and I am glad that you have found it helpful in some way. In a previous post I used the example of a parent/child interaction because I figured everyone could relate to that in a positive way. As you have noted, just because we have a disagreement with a child or other loved one, we still stay engaged and caring toward that person. It is relatively easy to realize that we are connected and part of the same oneness or Whole that is God. I say relatively easy, because I am also very aware that such close relationships can also become quite brutal at times.
Generally speaking, it does become a bit more difficult when we broaden the application of love to those individuals who are sometimes referred to as "monsters." We may not know these individuals personally, but we may have an awareness of them through the mass media. For example, how do we "love" a mass murderer, serial rapist, child molester, war criminal, or such? Can loving indifference apply in these cases? I am just asking the question. It does seem to help for me, but I don't know if it works for others, as well. I can usually recognize the God self within them, no matter how distorted it may have become. It helps that from my study of psychology I have come to appreciate that such individuals have often had some pretty nasty things done to them somewhere along the way.
More commonly on the spiritual path, the question is: "How do we love our personal enemies"? In this context, for the sake of illustration, let's just think of someone who doesn't return our love in kind as an "enemy." When we show our love to someone and they respond in a mean, hateful, disrespectful manner – not just once, but as a pattern of behavior, it can be difficult to "love" them. Does loving indifference have any value in such situations? Again, it does seem practical to me, but I welcome other perspectives on this. Best wishes, Dave