An artist can learn something from every work of art he creates. Each work of art expands art, because it is unique. Whether it is deemed good or bad, it is still a new, never-before-created effort. Therefore, new ground has been broken and art has been advanced, at least to some small degree. Some works are imitative, while others are more original, yet even what is imitative has something new in it. Few artists are great, but every artist progresses if he applies himself. Each lifetime builds on the one before, and artistic skill can grow from lifetime to lifetime. Eventually, every soul who chooses to invest the necessary effort can achieve a high level of artistry. If a child demonstrates native ability for art, no doubt he had previous lives that brought this talent into being. Each great artist was once an average artist, and before that, unskilled, in previous lifetimes. Art is an essential part of the lessons of this planet. While most souls do not aspire to a high level of artistic achievement, virtually everyone wants to take advantage of the opportunity to experience artistry, and therefore has at least one lifetime in which there is some artistic study. It is like going to New York and making certain not to miss the opportunity to see the Statue of Liberty.
Whatever you are specifically studying, you have come to learn love. Every experience on earth is a lesson in love and in some way expands love, the mistakes as well as the successes. Even a great artist makes many mistakes. It is as important for the artist to know what does not work as to know what does. The more original the artist, the more mistakes he makes, because by definition, originality takes you into uncharted territory. There is no body of knowledge to guide you. Every lifetime, to some degree, takes you through uncharted territory. Some people live relatively conservatively and seek the familiar, but even so, they cannot escape some surprises. Others are more adventurous and their lives are full of new experiences. If those who pioneer are sometimes awkward or less than completely successful, those who come later can achieve greater success based on their work. Generally, the first to experiment with new forms in art or music do not bring forth the ultimate expressions of those forms. Nevertheless, without the pioneers, those ultimate expressions would have no chance of being created.
If you are on a spiritual path, you are likely to be on the leading edge in discovering new, higher forms of love. Others may think that you are a little weird. What is new is generally uncomfortable. Your efforts will not always be unqualified successes. Fortunately, you are not attempting to develop these forms alone—you have all those who are fellow pioneers. There are those who will try to convince you that the world is flat and that you are going to sail off the edge. For all you know for certain, they may be right, but you sail on anyway. This is the spirit of the explorer.
In the development of new art forms, trends come and go, but each contributes to the overall progression. Likewise, there are many new age techniques that aid the study of love but will eventually not be needed. It is important to maintain an awareness of the overall lesson—love. The point is not technique. Techniques are necessary, but they are means to an end; they are not ends in themselves. If you wish to appraise the value of a technique for yourself, ask, “Is this in some way expanding my capacity for love?” If it is, then at least for the moment, it is worthwhile for you. When it ceases to aid you in expanding love, it is wise to leave it behind.
Channeling is a technique. It is a means, not an end. Channeling has no intrinsic value on its own, just as a telephone has no intrinsic value on its own. It is the communication over the telephone or through the channel that can give it value. If our penetration through this channel aids in magnifying the experience of love, it is worthwhile. This is the purpose of all true teachings.
Love is all-inclusive. It cannot be limited to narrow aspects of itself. Love is not just soft and nurturing. It is also strong and penetrating. Love is the force that increases the integrity of the universe. Whatever is required to do this is loving.
Integrity is related to functionality. When something contributes to a higher level of functionality, it is loving. For example, it can be a loving act to dismantle an engine that is not working properly, that lacks integrity. Then it can be rebuilt, or the parts that are still in good working order can be used in other engines.
Likewise, it can be a loving act to dismantle a relationship that is not working properly, that lacks integrity. A relationship has integrity if in it, you are more effective in contributing to the well-being of yourself and others than you are outside it. If a relationship impedes well-being, it does not have integrity and will tend to break down. But even that is not antithetical to the purposes of love, because some good spare parts may come out of it, or perhaps it can be rebuilt.
A time comes with any machine when it is worn out and not worth repairing any more. For one machine, that might be soon after being manufactured. For another, that might be a hundred years later. It depends partly on who has been using it. Relationships, being alive, can be regenerated, but they do not stay in the same form forever, because you are growing and changing. It is important to be able to discern when the form of a relationship of any kind has outlived its usefulness. Sometimes the greatest contribution to the magnification of love is achieved alone, and sometimes it is achieved in partnership with another or with many others. This can change over time. However, you can learn something from every relationship, and every relationship expands love to some degree.
Love achieves whatever is of the greatest benefit. It may first flush out what needs to be eliminated, which can be uncomfortable, but ultimately, love brings increased well-being to all concerned.
Close your eyes and feel your body. Your body is not just your flesh. Feel it as far out as it extends from your skin. Ask that your body receive love. Ask that this love bring balance, alignment, and attunement with the source of love, the Tao.
Channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin -- from Loving From Your Soul