...a controversial subject...

...and one that needs a little explaining.

While everyone is likely to be familiar with the expression, "tough love", and have a general idea that it means possibly behaving in ways that might normally be regarded as "mean" towards someone who otherwise deserves to be treated "lovingly", the concept isn't usually explored to the degree that it deserves.

In fact, "tough love" is an essential aspect of enlightened interaction with others, and it applies to a broad spectrum of situations.

What makes "tough love" powerful is that the person applying it has determined that it is in the best interests of the recipient to receive a version of reality which is stripped of all "sugar-coating", devoid of softening platitudes, and which is designed to clarify and motivate, rather than soothe and insulate.

In order to use tough love, one needs to have an overview of many things - in addition to the immediate situation, the long-term position is considered, so that lessons learned now are learned well enough to be carried forward, rather than not be learned at all because the subject has been "molly-coddled". The user of "tough love" will have therefore have considered the long-term happiness and "moral fibre" of the recipient, and a balance of imparting discrimination and wisdom will have been sought against the risk of merely "hurting their feelings" in the short term.

Where this entire approach gains real importance is in terms of karmic interactions. Once an awareness of karma has been achieved, it is then clear that all actions have consequences, and, indeed, that all situations have karmic origins, so, not only does "tough love" need to be available as the right response in the right (karmic) situation, but also, it must not be forgotten that a challenging situation is the universe itself inflicting tough love. In sum, karma itself is tough love.

The outworking of one's destiny can be regarded as a useful model for the use of tough love. There is arguably no such thing as "good karma" - that's not how incarnation works; karma is about the delivery of situations which contain an inner lesson, and a challenge is always involved. "Good fortune" is unlikely to be the result of "good deeds", as "good fortune" is merely a change of state which brings about new challenges. Suddenly finding oneself rich can result in catastrophic self-indulgence, careless callousness towards those "less fortunate", and complacency towards one's own need for spiritual growth; indeed, sudden riches often represent greater challenges than relative poverty. Add to this the fact that rich people have more opportunity to reject "tough love", expecting instead politeness and deference from all around them, they run the risk of isolating themselves from "the real world" and any need to engage in the give-and-take that ordinary people are required to observe - affluence can indeed be a great challenge to spiritual growth. Incidentally, following Kendo's teachings ensures enlightenment and spiritual growth for all, even those poor souls, the rich!.

So karma is neutral in terms of what it delivers - it just delivers - it's merely the name of the process. However, when karma delivers a serious challenge, this is an example of extreme "tough love", arguably inflicted upon ourselves, by ourselves, as a result of what we still need to learn, and learn well.

In other pages, Kendo has counselled that it is an enlightened person who welcomes the challenges which karma serves up to us, as it takes courage and self-assuredness in one's ability to overcome hardship, but these qualities are easier to acquire if one accepts that the outcome is well worth it - and so it is with tough love. Understanding that one is subject to tough love on a daily basis via karma also helps to illustrate how helpful it can be to others to take a dispassionate approach to dealing out their own tough love when appropriate.