Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I was asked recently what I thought love is and I admittedly was not up to it.  I am not up to it because it is a dizzyingly broad word and takes in so many different perspectives and ways of feeling.  I think, though, that that is not a bad thing, it just does not make talking about it especially easy because of its broadness.  When something is so broad it also has the capacity to contradict itself, or seem to. Love is the biggest contradiction to humankind I think for the simple reason that the finest form of it is so completely unconditional and humans, so often, are steeped or conditioned to be conditional.

I am sitting with you and you and I are sitting by a small river.  We are talking about this concept of love and we have been at it for days.  Literally.  We keep coming back to this one spot because of the perspective that it gives.  Here, nearest us, the waters are calm and move by gently.  When you put your toe into the water, it is pleasantly cool with eddies of warmth from the sun shining on the slow surface layers that slowly tumble and mix with this lazy river.  And yet, to our right and just several yards away is a small creek that is rushing like mad and making a lot of noise  making its way into the river.  As we look down the river a little further, we can see how the slow river turns into rapids as the depths become shallows near a sandbar. It is a whole different world over there since the water moves so differently than the calm quiet current near your toe touch.

But, we have been talking about this for days and it is clear; the small creek is also the river but does not KNOW it is the river until it enters into it, or becomes it.  The creek never knows it will be that river until it is.  Only then will its being be changed and its own being is changed in that instant of merging into that something larger.  And this is how love can be in some people's experience.  Some love is furious like this creek, but it can be also limited in scope, too, until something comes along, or IT comes along and finds itself emptying out into a still larger waterway.  The creeks likes to move fast and hot and hard and perhaps even drop over large rocks and make a lot of noise in the night.  That, I insist, is love even though it moves into a larger current that redefines itself. It is still the same water that dropped out of the heavens and is seeking its way to the ocean. It is the same everywhere that water flows.  It is all love even though it gets expressed so differently, so broadly.

If you think that love is only this calm peaceful river that gives calmness and solemnity to the creek's mad dash to the Source, consider that even this river will very soon, in the not too distant distance, suddenly be all a-shiver in rapids its own self. A calm deep and ancient river can itself turn into a frothing tumble of a gorge.  Never underestimate the power of love to change and transmute.  It is so important and so big that it simply wears many different faces or masks.  It has to.  Even we take love and turn it into all kinds of things.  It becomes our own and we bend it to our will.  Being water, it does what it always has done; it follows its level and the path of least resistance.  It isn't that it is lazy, but incredibly efficient.  It seeks I think to remake you.  And if it not a seeking, then this is just what it does.  We say love is kind, gentle, tormented, or even obsessive, but it is just what we do with it in our hands. There is a miller five miles up the river who uses water to grind grain. How odd that seems as we sit with our feet steeped in its cool flow.  But there it is.  Love has so many faces, uses.  It is the current of all life.  It gives rise and form to everything.  Don't ask me to explain why I say this is so.  I prefer not to get into the quantum mechanical stuff just now....

The woman who shows love to her child is nurturing and loving to that child. She brings the baby to her breast and holds that baby and looks deep into its eyes as her own essence is shared and beamed into that child in the form of her great love.  And only moments later this same woman will lie with a man who will be hungry for her body and fiery essence as well but in a completely different way.  In the same fashion, the father who is gentle and kind to his daughter will show flashes of passion to his wife or lover.  The same river runs deep and gentle or torpid and wild. It all folds into itself.  Only we seek to divide it and say it is this or that.  Instead, we do little to ponder its great mystery and prefer to erect taboos and barriers because we ourselves cannot be trusted with certain kinds of love, only in certain instances.  Love, though, will guide if we but allow it to.  Clearly, clear-eyed and carefully and aware. 

We love food and we love art.  We love each other, and we do so in dizzying degrees and ways.  One way is completely different from the other and yet we all use the same word.  Some people say love while some cross their arms smugly and say "lust" and turn away.  We use love broadly, perhaps to broadly, and yet we know that love encompasses many different states and ways, styles and means.
Someone suggests that love is just and yet love showers upon all good or bad.  Like the sun, love is not withdrawn from any of us.  The worst and the best, so we say, and yet how do we know what is bad within such a narrow picture of the infinite.  How do we know that the worst of us do not go on to do the greatest of deeds in their advanced age in the cosmos.  And would not love itself contradict itself by holding itself back?  When love does that, doesn't it cease being love? And yet, even so, how do we fit it into a world where morality and values and concepts of how to be or should be reigns supreme?  Well, we do what we have always done; we shape and mold love to our uses until we are done shaping it and flow with it.  Then we become it, and that is perhaps when we simply disappear into it in the greatest form of worship that there is.

But I have a secret for you.  I have been holding it back a little because it is the best of all.
All of these things, all of these faces of love merge into one current, and it is within this current that you can stand and feel all of it as an undivided force.  It is here in this place that a miracle has come to me and which can come to you too.  No longer is it something that you just feel for is an undeniable force that can no longer JUST be experienced in its small rivulets or streams but as all of it undivided and thus unfocused in a way, yet highly responsive.  A river with endless fingers and pulses, of infinite receptivity and decisiveness within its flowing character.  Felt directly, it is difficult because it is such a revelation.  It could, I suppose, drive some mad who are unable or unwilling to surrender to its one simple and primal truth.  It is the great river that will carry each of us to a vast and endless ocean that is everything.  The only way we can hope to survive is to simply become one with it and borrow from it its own boundless strength.  When your awareness awakens to it, it feels like molten ice flowing through you.  It is dark and light, fiery and cold.  It is the entirety of the universe distilled down into a drop that is at once you and the universe.  If you cant handle the paradox of that, you will miss the river as it flows through you.  In fact, many of us have done just that most of our lives until that one moment when enough of ourselves knits itself back into unity enough to spark awakening and something simple dawns on you that forever grows in depth and dimension.  To flow most free in this river means that you take off all that has encumbered you.  Only then are you most buoyant.

When the sun goes down and the moon rises quietly overhead, you hear and feel the voices of all the people who have ridden in the current of this vein of life and you realize its all that has been and will ever be.  In that silent slip of a moment you are unbound by the time or mortal life and feel the thickening of eternity settling around you with its own certainty.  In such places and times are people undone, taken apart, left to die to the old life they lived and wake up gradually in a new one.  What seemed like sheer violence is now known in a new context as the greatest of mercies, the tenderest way of being.  It means that you can touch the lips of another from a vast distance because this is just how strong this thing called love is.  And even given that, love will itself mix and tumble with the mud of our world and make a dark mix of things until it all resolves back to its pure state.
Love is indeed paradoxical, broad, narrow, hot and fast and slow and warm and cold as ice.  It is all of this just as a mighty river might be.  But even as you experience all of this for yourself, it will always be more and you will always be breathless trying to keep up if you are a knower of souls and a seeker of the Creator's thoughts.  But perhaps, in saying all of this, I have just touched on what I know love to be.  Certainly it is more than just that, but we here have numbered days even though the river does not.

So there is certainly more to say, and because of the many ways of love, I naturally wind up leaving the juicy parts out, but I leave and skim like a stone that does not wait to lunge headlong into the depths but instead skips along on the surface as it touches the many different currents that make up the river that has you casting stones upon its surface.  So suffice it to say that in romantic love there is much more to be known and thus a story that will unfold which will be your own journey to discovery.  I would hate to ruin the surprise near the end.  Perhaps if we ignored all of the rest of love and considered only one of its masks might I be able to satisfy what it is you might be looking for or yearning to know or hear.  Those are like chapters in a book that I have not yet written but are more expressed in the color of my  lips and the flow of my blood and it is carried in my veins like a gentle warm river.  Eventually we ourselves write those chapters and when we do, we have the vast repertoire with which to navigate them while learning to become one with them and stand suspended and transformed both of them and not....curious creatures that pause and reflect as we do.

As all of these different currents all flow back together and into one in your own awareness, you too will experience what this can be as a force moving through your very fiber, that penetrates deep into every crevice and spot you had ignored.  It will sweep you and fill you with its presence and you wont ever be the same.  You will arise thankful in the end that it was so rough with you that it would not bend when you lay crumpled and fearful of its great immense force, willing to stand up once again and seek to know its flow in a new way, with clearer eyes and a richer heart.  You will have been taken back, claimed by the river as you begin dreaming of a still greater world, which is the ocean.  The rest is yours to know and explore, and I leave you as the ocean takes you and a smile spreads across your heart.  

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