There is no absolute point of view from which real and ideal can be finally separated and labeled. - T.S.Eliot
I've never been fond of labeling when it comes to human beings - for many reasons. It's limiting, for one. It can be condemning, for another. But, what about when someone attempts to label you with something positive?
Most of us would like to accept the positive labels. It is in those situations that we feel our gracious actions are being noticed and acknowledged. We might even feel rewarded by it. If we have lately been especially aware of our shadow side, it might give us hope that we are just being hard on ourselves and that people don't see the shadow which we know is there. If people were used to seeing the shadow, it might mean that a change has been noticed and forgiveness is at hand. Whatever the case, positive labels are rarely rejected.
I was recently offered a heartwarming label, one that would definitely be how I would like to be seen. The friend who offered it took it farther and asked if I saw myself as he described. The question kind of took me aback. I couldn't bring myself to say yes. All the therapy books and speakers who have addressed self-esteem were screaming in my head! I simply replied, "Only God can say. I do my best and hope it is good."
As far as limitations go, if I were to be limited by a label, it would be a happy circumstance to be packaged up in [COMPASSIONATE] or [LOVING] or one of many other spiritual identities.
Alas, but it can only be my actions which are labeled, not me. I believe we are everything, all the "bad" and all the "good." It's what we choose to show the world that counts; it's what we choose to bring out into the open that inspires how we are thought of and how we think about ourselves. It's what we choose to develop that makes a difference in the world.
I wrote earlier about the experience I had with past life regression. It caused me to want to know more about the concept of reincarnation. I read a good deal about it and I used what I read to come to my own conclusion. What I came to understand from that study, and the perspective that I work from in my life now, is that the task I am faced with here in the material world is to get myself closer to God than I was the last time I was between incarnations - the goal being to get close enough that I don't have to be born here again. My actions while I am here, those characteristics which inspire labels, are what make a difference in how much progress I make.
I know there is a lot of talk and writing about how we are God, and God is Love, and we are Love. I believe that, too. The whole thing, the whole system, is about helping us to discover that truth and know it innately.
I had a French teacher in college back in the late 1970's who was the first person I heard use the term, "metaphysical." Oh, I adored him and every word that came out of his mouth was magic, so I began to seek clarity on everything he mentioned. He spoke of "knowing" in a way that caused me to tax my infantile teenage brain. He said, "Ancient man knew things because he just knew them. He knew the cycle and pattern of the stars because it was a part of his awareness. Unlike us. We know most things because we are told."
Perhaps God wants us to "just know." That's why we have to come here and have those experiences which will help us to truly know what God is, what Love is.
I think T.S. Eliot is right in saying there is "no point of view" that can separate real from ideal - at least no human or philosophical point of view. We can only work from our ideals and hold fast to them and trust that they are serving us well.
And if, in a moment of being human, we apply a label to someone or ourselves, let it be an ideal label - even if the label doesn't come from true "knowing." People seem to attempt to live up to those labels deliberately or haphazardly applied to them.
Labels for people, in my humble opinion, should always have a potential response of, "Thank You," even if only God can really know the truth.
Thank you, JX.