and with all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.”
My first thought was, "how cool is that?" Since she is quite a collage artist, I must admit my next thoughts were, " I hope I make the cut. I'd love to get one."
I don't know how it plays out in other languages, but it seems to me that the word "love" in English is amazingly imprecise. It covers a vast range, from the "greater love hath no man than to lay down his life" style of sacrificial selflessness to the most possessive and jealous form of desirous grasping imaginable. The word "love" casts a net that includes both the enlightened activity of the Bodhisattva Green Tara -- and painful flailing of folks ensnared by the Green Eyed Monster.
Yet as the quotes above indicate, we have it on "good authority" that the key to the Real Deal is Love. So, what does the word "love" really mean?
Here we go again: What does the word "mean" really mean? Its "meaning" runs the gamut from ultimate significance and purpose, to simply being nasty, from the Golden Mean to the Blue Meanies. Damn. I mean give me a break here. LOL
It's Only Words...
Love? Meaning? These words certainly seem important, yet getting to the Truth of the Matter seems problematic, no? Conditioned as we are in a world that stresses the importance of conceptual thought, of words, much of our awareness is tied up in the stream of thoughts that dominate our attention. Yet it's obvious that words can be quite sloppy, perhaps not all that useful in our quest for fundamental clarity.
The Zen tradition stresses this. At one point, during a teisho in sesshin years ago at the Rochester Zen Center, Bodhin Kjolhede Sensei asserted, "Every time I open my mouth, I'm lying!"
He had obviously -- and very passionately -- opened his mouth at that moment. Was he telling the truth -- or lying?
The Real Deal
Embracing paradox, the Practice actually provides a way to address that question.
The cultivation of Mindfulness offers us an opportunity to widen and deepen the scope of our awareness to include a quality of consciousness that doesn't rely primarily on words -- or even emotions. With Practice, we come to experience for ourselves a boundless realm that most of us have been conditioned to ignore. It shines through each moment beneath and beyond emotions we've repressed and belief structures we've adopted, consciously or unconsciously, as we learned how to be "normal" in our ego-driven, modern capitalistic society.
With Practice, we become attuned to a finer range of sensibilities. We come to see directly that we are capable of deep levels of intuition, empathy, and understanding. At certain points, the Real Deal then becomes self-evident. Those moments are beyond belief!
Giving ourselves the opportunity to meditate regularly can be the key to Gateless Gate of the One Love.
Simple But Not Easy
The act of bringing our attention to the actual sensations of our breath and body seems all too simple -- until you try it. The momentum of our own conditioning, supported by the collective consciousness of today's world, is quite powerful.
Yet, as we "get out of our heads" to bring ourselves more fully into the actual experience of the present moment, things shift.
As we notice that we are thinking, we are no longer lost in thought. Gently returning to the simplicity of our breath again and again, we find that there is a quality of consciousness available to us that is fundamentally spacious, clear, calm, kind, and compassionate.
Often experienced as a "calm exhilaration", it seems to me that Mindfulness could, perhaps, better be described as Heartfulness. A warm Presence, it brings with it both a sense of knowing and a sense of curiosity and wonder. Expansive, spacious, accepting, affirming, I believe it to be our True Nature.
So, what's Love got to do with it?
You tell me!