"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about calming your mind and opening your heart enough to engage Life directly, to be more fully Present in a kind, clear, and helpful way."

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The Musings of a Long-time Student of Meditation

Saturday, August 29, 2020

A Love Affair

“When you open yourself to the continually changing, impermanent, dynamic nature of your own being and of reality, you increase your capacity to love and care about other people and your capacity to not be afraid. 
You're able to keep your eyes open, your heart open, and your mind open.
 ― Pema Chödrön, 
Practicing Peace in Times of War

We now see that the only way that we could love ourselves is by loving others, 
and the only way that we could truly love others is to love ourselves. 
The difference between self-love and love of others is very small, 
once we really understand.”
― Norman Fischer, Training in Compassion: 
Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong
 

As I've mentioned before, here and elsewhere, I think the Hippies actually had it right.  It IS all about Peace, Love, and Freedom.

In the Collective Kensho of that era, many of us had been to the mountain top.  There, we were touched deeply by the One Love that permeates and transcends the universe.  We saw the Real Deal. 

But seeing it -- and even believing in it -- isn't enough.

The task of freeing ourselves to actually BE peaceful and loving human beings became the mission -- and we quickly learned that it is no mean feat.  It takes deep commitment, effort, discipline, courage and patience.

It takes Practice.

In the Buddhist, Hindu, and Taoist worlds the term "Love" isn't generally used to refer to the Ultimate State of Being. They approach the Ineffable with different concepts and understandings. I think that is actually helpful to us Westerners.  We are incredibly sloppy with the word love.  It has a wide range of meanings.

In English, love could be the word that attempts to describe the spiritual glow that emerges from the ethereal domain of unconditional, unselfish agape on the one hand.  Or, just as readily, the word could be used to indicate the self-absorbed fiery emotion that erupts from the nether realms of green eyed monsters and wrathful, jealous gods.  (It's pretty clear that "I love you so much that I'll kill anyone who looks at you, and then you," isn't exactly what Jesus and Buddha had in mind when they taught about Love.) 

It seems that a bit more precision would be helpful.
(READ MORE)
Love Is More Than A Four-Letter Word!

In the tradition of Mindfulness Practice, this precision is not simply a matter of conceptual designation.  It is a Practice.  Love is an experience that emerges from refining our ability to be fully Present.  With Practice, Love is not experienced primarily as an emotional state.  Love is an open, equanimous, non-judgmental quality of consciousness.  When we are Present to Life, moment to moment, Love emerges as a warm, spacious, calm exhilaration.  Compassionate action appears spontaneously as a result.  

Unfettered by a preoccupation with self-referenced ideas of good and bad (which are most often cloaked variations of "what's in it for me?), we engage Mindful Awareness.  Totally opening our hearts and minds to what is, not just to what we want it to be, Love becomes our natural state.

Just Sit On It, Buddhy!

It may seem preposterous to claim that Just Sitting Still could ultimately lead to the realization of True Love but, for some of us, that's the deal.  The process of being Present to one's own breath, bodily sensations, feelings, thoughts, and awareness can open the Gateless Gate to our True Nature. 

It's just that simple.

Of course, simple doesn't mean easy.  A regular meditation practice takes commitment and courage.  It takes the willingness to face yourself -- and all that you've denied and repressed -- openly and honestly.  It takes getting out of your head and into your heart to face, and embrace, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  

Again and again and again.

Yet, with persistent and gentle effort, Mindful Awareness emerges and deepens.  With Practice, our minds clear and our hearts open to embrace and explore all the patterns of feeling, thought and action that diminish and distort our ability to be peaceful and loving.  Over time, both on and off the meditation cushion, we see clearly that the conditioned patterns of grasping and pushing away, and the resultant pains, fears, and resentments that emerge in ourselves and in others, are the root cause of human suffering.   

We also come to see clearly that, like everything else, those feelings are just energies.  They are fundamentally insubstantial and impermanent.  They are just clouds passing through the infinite expanse of a vast, clear sky.  

This changes everything.

There, in the embrace of Mindful Awareness, Reality asserts itself.  What has appeared to separate us from ourselves, from one another, and from the One Love that permeates and transcends space and time is seen for what it is.  

At a certain point, its power over us dissolves.  Our True Nature emerges -- and we are free to Be who we truly are.  At that point, Life itself becomes a Love Affair.  

It just takes Practice.

Originally posted, April 24, 2015.  Revised.

2 comments:

Don Karp said...

". . . most of us [hippies] were too young and crazy to pull it[peace, love, freedom] off at the time . . ."

With due respect, and enjoyment of where you went from here to the rest of your article, I beg to differ with this opening statement.

These were complex times and there were multiple factors at play that some say ended the hippies and their goals: hard drugs, coopting and commercializing their lifestyle, and dark, invasive forces, like the CIA, FBI, and their coordination with media, due to fear of a real takeover.

I have great faith in our youth, and often look to them for guidance, but not quite as much as my consulting with my inner peace.

Lance Smith said...

Thanks for chiming in, Don. I could have used my words a bit more wisely.
I share your faith in the youth of today.  I marvel at not only the idealism, but the skill level of the younger folks I meet. 

I also agree that there were many forces at play in the era or our own youth.

Of course, perhaps the greatest force was aging itself. As many of my contemporaries, myself included, grew into householder status and raising families, the macro-forces of our society propelled us into lifestyles that reflected the mainstream values of modern capitalism more than the spiritual communalism that many us had valued. 

Perhaps, "too young and crazy" was too flippant.  I'll revise that sentence. Hope you're well there, Brother.
One Love,
Lance