Topic 13 – What Is Love, Truly?
There comes a point when to answer certain questions, we are compelled to act more like boys trading baseball cards than scholars. We must give up something to get something. Where love is concerned, we have to give up our egoic viewpoint, the one that views human interaction as commerce driven by our wants and needs. Love is unrecognizable from the viewpoint of ego, no matter how hard we try. We have our moments, don’t get me wrong, where we scent love like a passing whiff of white gardenias, rich, arresting, and sweet beyond words. That is because for that moment, we permitted a sunset to own us completely, a child at play to hold our total attention, or a strain of Hans Zimmer’s music to silence our minds through its splendorous sound, and we slipped beyond ego’s grasp. In other words, in those moments, our egoic frame of reference dropped away, and the eyes we then look through are the eyes of Love. Our problem is not that we are incapable of love, but that we can’t sustain that moment where it lives, and like the mythical Sisyphus, we slide back into the cramped, grimy quarters of the house of ego.
The most personal experience we have of love is during what we call “falling in love.” For reasons that defy explanation, in the presence of another adult, we drop our guard, stand there totally naked in our vulnerability, and experience life from that vantage point. It is the experience of total openness, of seeing only beauty, of holding no judgments. What we are truly experiencing at that moment, assisted by the circumstances, is our true nature, one that could be referred to as Love. It’s not that we’re in love with Billy or Jane but that another has assisted us and them to realize we are both Love itself, and that experience is one we’ll never forget. But why doesn’t it continue on? Because we’ve been conditioned to believe that falling in love doesn’t last. Our unexamined belief wins out over time, and like an alcoholic falling off the wagon, our addiction to ego owns us once again.
What is strange is that such extraordinary experiences doesn’t make us more curious. Calli Morrow in my novel, Dying to Know, describes her chagrin of recalling such an experience when she says, “It was an astonishing event, answering that which seemed unanswerable, yet I had taken it for granted. Who are we that an answer we’re seeking can come out of nowhere and that we treat that as commonplace?”
Who are we indeed? We are creatures whose true nature is that of Love itself, extraordinary beings. I don’t mean all sweetness and light as we imagine it from ego. I mean whole, integral, vast, and as open as a window in summer. Can you feel a sense of yourself in that description? Can you sense how you would walk the earth from that state of consciousness? Can you get a whiff of how complete you would feel, how grounded, how fearless, how connected, how utterly accepting you would be?
Well the truth is you are that. It doesn’t matter that we hold ourselves in the limitations of ego and play at that charade. We are what we are, and that is a being as completely connected as every other form of life on this planet. When we long for love, it isn’t the sappy, self-oriented, sex driven experience, but the unrestricted sense of self that knows it is part of all things. We are here to experience ourselves as that, and we call it Love for that is one of the most magnificent words we know. An yet, we are the only creatures on this planet that can talk ourselves out of the truth of our nature and get lost in ego. Yet, when our minds are silent and our hearts are as open as the sky, we know Love, truly. All the rest of the blather is us just meeting needs.
And if you have not been enchanted by this adventure—
what would do for you?
What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.
Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.
That was years ago.
Since then I have gone out from my confinements,
though with difficulty.
…And I have become the child of the clouds, ….
I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.
I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,
I have become younger.
And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?
Love yourself. Then forget it. Then love the world.
“To Begin With, the Sweet Grass” by Mary Oliver
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