What does it ‘really’ mean to love your neighbor as yourself?

You just might find the answer surprising

Oghenovo Obrimah, PhD

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The imperative of ‘loving neighbors as oneself’ is an age old imperative. If everyone loves their neighbor as themselves, with love interpreted as non-inflicting of hurt on neighbors, society functions much like an Utopia. Though of Jewish and Christian origins, few if any other tenets of spirituality disagree with purity of moral imperative of loving neighbors as oneself.

The typical interpretation of loving of a neighbor as oneself is affinity for kindness, patience, gentleness etc. in relations with neighbors. This interpretation of course is right. The easiest way to avoid doing of wrong to others is focus on doing of what is right.

If you do not want to hurt your neighbor, the easiest way to arrive at this outcome is to ask yourself, what is right to do to your neighbor.

But then, how exactly to know what is right?

In context of knowing of what exactly is right to do to a neighbor, there exists a deeper meaning to the ‘love your neighbor’ imperative. If we are to arrive at this deeper meaning, we have to reword the moral imperative in the following manner.

Love your neighbor as your self.

With the moral imperative respecified as ‘love your neighbor as your self’, there is realization that the imperative does not commence with your neighbor. Rather, the imperative commences with the insight that it is important you recognize and love your self. The imperative declares, ‘if you do not recognize and love your ‘self’, you are unable to know how to love others’.

The problem we have in the world today is people no longer recognize their selves, as such are unable to love their selves, as such are unable to love others.

What then does it mean to recognize and love your self? Better yet, what is the ‘self’.

Your ‘self’ is the consciousness that lives in your body. Clearly, if you were your body, either you never…

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Oghenovo Obrimah, PhD

Educator and Researcher, Believer in Spirituality, Life is serious business, but we all are pilgrims so I write about important stuff with empathy and ethos