Well, it’s Valentine’s Day. Couples, hopeful suitors, friends and family members are professing and accepting expressions of love. In each case love means something different.
There is so much packed into the word, the practice and the concept of love that we’ll never begin to see anything close to its meaning if we don’t take it out beyond our everyday, human sized understanding. In a previous article posted here and titled “Loves Got a Hold on You!, Love was seen to be, not just universal. Possibly much more startling, the idea was introduced that it is a Universe pervading, fifth force like gravity, responsible for self organization of the material and living worlds. So let’s look from a place approximating that altitude again.
Love most often shows up in one of two ways. Comparing them will help us see both what is confusing as well as the best of love as our heart and understanding matures.
In a first example, love manifests as “need.” What we love – what we say we love is that which seems to make up for the feelings and resources we feel we are missing – what we think we need to make us feel whole and connected to life and no longer separated from other people. At this level men and women engage in complicated balancing acts, trading with each other in an attempt to offer strength and support where the other feels deficient. In exchange, the other partner looks to extract a supply to fill up their own areas of emptiness.
At its best, this balance is fragile, as these arrangements can never be expected to work well all the time. Against a background of shifting emotions and perspectives, couples and friends juggle every form of poverty our souls have known – sometimes with great success – sometimes not. That said, the courage of deficit love diplomacy should never be underrated! We all must start at the beginning. Training wheels, all around!
The second kind of love has no deficiencies. Contrary to deficiencies, it is an overflowing, super abundance. As such it can be called “Being Love – because a person experiencing love this complete has transcended the small self and in a certain sense –is literally a Being of Love! Whats more, they are expressing humanities true nature, no longer feeling separated from the world and other people. Given this feeling of wholeness, Loves goal is to include smaller “others,” merging with, so as to make larger and larger whole structures. Given this very secure perspective – one knows that all things are theirs because they are one with all things. There is nothing to want for its own sake – The game is now the experience of re-membering – re-uniting all separate members. All fractured, frightened members are re-gathered. given the joy of remembering that they too, though unique, have no need to fight for continued existence. Each unique perspective is fundamentally one with everything. There is nothing to fear because there is no such thing an “other” to threaten us! We are all the water in the ocean because all the water is all there is!
So where in this can we find something useful? How can we find a way out of the maze that is our strained relationships and fear based reactions? The answer is quite simple. We come to wholeness one thought at a time. We begin to flow up and over the top one generous thought and action at a time.
Now, for most people the phrase ” One With Everything” has become little more than a cliché. And an easy one to toss off – to include in a short bit of writing. If asked… “Who is experiencing it? We’d probably say, “No one!” But that’s not really true. Actually, even us pedestrian types do quite a bit of Being and quite a lot of Non Being.”
However, having realized that love is who we are, that it is our true nature. We experience it at the same time and in proportion to our maturity as conscious beings. In other words – it is the Awakened, or Enlightened state.
And yet, mature Love is not just the exclusive territory of Awakened Masters – the Enlightened among us. Those given to unselfish love find satisfaction in giving with no need or expectation of repayment. For these people, Love can be the entrance to the Awakened State.
The following description of mature love comes from Christian scripture but echoes the goal of wisdom teachers of every faith. Read it now but listen with your imagination.
Love is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
Consider the qualities this verse described as thought they were a list of instructions. Number One: Love is patient. I arrived home yesterday on a flight from Phoenix. Waiting in line at the airport, first at the check in counter, then TSA after which there was the boarding line and finally the tense congestion everyone feels while waiting to deplane. At each turn I kept it in mind that any one I stepped ahead of would then be standing right behind me feeling at least mildly irritated at me for being pushy. And what I would have gained at the expense of their good will was little more than the length of my shoes. I made a point of letting at least one person step ahead of me. Surprisingly, this smallest of gestures made a noticeable difference in the way I felt, Rather than being apprehensive – wondering what sort of bad thoughts were festering in the minds of any one or more persons, I was at ease. I had expressed abundance – I had all the time I needed and this nearly immeasurable gesture expressed that fact – in a small way, sure. But still, it did express abundance. So that pushy, quick step into the hole a slower traveler had left open for just a moment went unclaimed by me – as it should have because I had all the time I needed. Had I truly been in a hurry, no doubt I could have spoken up and a way would have opened for me to exit just that much sooner – but a welcoming and willing way would have been made and the integrity of my heart would have been preserved. Those who stepped aside would have enjoyed the good feelings that flow when we help each other.
An opportunity to exercise step number two was presented on that same plane in those same moments waiting for the aisle to clear. Because I had not crowded forward I was standing next to a woman with elastic support bandages on her wrists. Noticing her reaching for a large bag in the over-head bin I was able to extend a hand and take the majority of the weight of her luggage and ease it to the floor. Just an imperceptible action – just the right one. No matter how small, by comparison, my strength overflowed and my actions supported this truth. And three. In the lavatory, paper towels, used and soggy lay scattered on the floor around an overflowing trash bin. Rather than leaving them for a janitor, after drying my hands I reached for one more fresh length of paper and used it to pick up those that had spilled. As I did this I thought of the man or women whose job it was to clean up after we thousands who had access to an otherwise clean and fresh smelling public bathroom. I was grateful for that person who had gone before me, doing the job that had been assigned to him. Grateful because his labor had made my experience more pleasant. He would never know that I picked up paper from the floor, but I did and my heart felt at rest for having honored another person’s work.
Number four brings us back to the crowded aisle of the airplane where I watched as others pushed ahead, taking my place and scooting out ahead rather than allowing me to exit when It was actually my turn. I noticed what they were doing but remembered all the times when I was convinced that I had the right to hurry the process along by not waiting my turn. My heart felt just a little lighter for having been patient in the face of impatience. I felt as though by having done the right thing this one time, I had made amends for the many times the situation had been reversed. It was with this thought that I found myself smiling as I watched several young boys do as I had done so many times on so many flights, as for once I was not self seeking or even mildly irritated by the small tear they made in the social fabric.
I could find examples to finish the list but I think the point has been made. And that is the fact that it is not the size of the gesture. It’s a simple matter of whether the gesture is in alignment with truth. Doing the small things consistently fortifies, small stone by small stone, an attitude of heart for better or worse.
If we think that we can violate the principles of righteousness in small ways and make it all up with a grand gesture at a later date… we miss the point. We have missed so many important opportunities. The work we have been asked to do is to believe that we live in abundance – to believe it in our hearts to such a degree that we live it with our thoughts and actions. The secret missed by all of us on so many occasions is this. Without regard for our station in life, without ever having to count the money we have made. Our actions and attitudes are every bit as influential and supportive of the health of our spiritual heart.
Whether we are high born, and privileged or unknown and without influence – the opportunity to build a life of immense value is ours each day.
So, once again; Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
The previous paragraph perfectly describes our second option. Call it Eros, call it the Fifth Force or just call it Love. Dante said that it is that which moves our sun, the other stars and the planets that circle them. If in fact Love moves the immensities that compose a universe then we know that on the other end of the scale it moves micron size mountains upon which dance a zillion electrons and their ever smaller partners in the structural fabric of creation. Love is is not just an emotion, it is the energy of all motion.
Love that shows its true nature is already full – so full that is wants nothing more than to spill over without reservation. Mature love seeks nothing in return and finds its greatest satisfaction in giving with no need or expectation of repayment or even equal treatment.
Could there be a broader, more obvious hint? Spend this day practicing love. There is no need to be quiet about it. Nor is there particular merit for the noisy. Sincerity counts as does self sacrifice. And why would this be? The self you sacrifice does not exist – not really. Once again, the master tells us that those of us who try to preserve our lives – our small life stories, will lose them. But he or she who would lose their life for love… in loving service will gain a life we cannot yet imagine.
It’s Valentine’s Day. Now go out and spend yourself on someone else’s behalf. Go spend yourself on this thing called Love.