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Thought for the Day

November 23

Undisciplined love dwells in the senses, for it is still entangled with earthly things. . . . Disciplined love lives in the soul and rises above the human senses and forbids the body its own will.
   – Mechthild of Magdeburg

In the Hindu scriptures, the Sanskrit word kama means selfish desire, or any kind of private gratification. The opposite of kama is prema: love pure and perfected, a selfless love that does not ask what it can get but what it can give. The first leads only to spiritual starvation; the latter nourishes and heals.

In Hindu mythology kama is sometimes personified as the god Kama, who is a little like the Greek Cupid. Like Cupid, Kama is armed with a bow, and he has five arrows tipped with flowers, one for each of the five senses. Prema might also be said to have five arrows: five things we need to acquire in order to love. The first is time. Second is a one-pointed mind, which is the capacity to direct attention as we choose. Third comes energy, vitality. Fourth, we need discrimination. And fifth, we must have awareness of the unity of life.

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