You're able to keep your eyes open, your heart open, and your mind open.
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:
In the Collective Kensho of that era, many of us were catapulted to the mountain top. Whether it was the energy of psychedelics, the myriad Asian teachers who came to the West to see what was happening, the Civil Rights and Antiwar Movements, Woodstock, or just the Season, the Spirit was in the air. Many of us were directly touched by the One Love that permeates and transcends the universe.
Yet, I soon learned that seeing it -- and even believing in it -- isn't enough. The task of freeing the mind and opening the heart to actually BE a peaceful and loving human is no mean feat. It takes deep commitment, effort, discipline, courage, skill -- and patience.
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.
Love Is More Than A Four-Letter Word!
With Practice, Love is not
experienced primarily as an
emotion. It is a quality of consciousness that is clear, equanimous, and non-judgmental. 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 variations of "what's in it for me?), we engage the Mindful Awareness that exists in our heart of hearts. Opening our hearts and minds to what is, not just to what we want it to be, we connect with the Heart of Reality.
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 opens the Gateless Gate to the One Love that exists within and beyond all that is.
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 all aspects of yourself and others, to accept 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 thoughts and feelings are just energies. They are fundamentally insubstantial and impermanent. They are just clouds passing through the infinite expanse of a vast, clear sky. At a certain point we know that we are that clear sky.
There, in the embrace of Mindful Awareness, Reality asserts itself.
There, all that separates us from ourselves, from one another, and from the One Love that permeates and transcends space and time is seen for what it is. We see for ourselves that it is transitory and illusionary. Its power over us dissolves. Our True Nature emerges into full view -- 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.