Love in Radical Oneness – the expanded version
Love is a much more complex and fascinating word than one might think. We use it in reference to so many things that some might say it has lost meaning. Love can be an action. I love my mother. I love my husband. I love my children. I love playing baseball. I love chocolate. I love my cat. I love being alone with my thoughts. I love my country. I love myself. I love God. Each of these sentences expresses a very different emotional state or state of mind. If I love my cat in the exact same way I love chocolate, for example, I would probably get hauled in by the animal protection agency. Love is also a noun that describes an emotion as in the song titles, “Love is a Many Splendored Thing,” with music by Sammy Fain and lyrics by Paul Francis Webster, and “Love Hurts,” written and composed by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. But rather than saying a word as beautiful as love has lost its meaning, we should recognize that it is multivalent, it has diversity and layers of meaning. Perhaps we could see this word not so much for the confusion it causes but rather for the depth that is has.
English is not the only language in which the word love is so rich with meaning, but other languages distinguish the kinds of love with different words. In the west, the Greek distinctions are probably the most famous (and studied by most students of theology). In ancient Greek, there are five words: agape (ἀγάπη), eros (ἔρως), philia (φιλία), storge (στοργή), and xenia (ξενία). Each has a different meaning. Agape is the love one feels for another and a concern for their well-being or affection for a person or even an activity; eros is romantic, erotic and/or passionate love; philia is dispassionate love of another human or community and is a virtuous and familiar love of equality; storge is natural affection such as that between parent and child; and xenia is love shown in hospitality to travelers.# Plato also rang in making a distinction within eros of vulgar eros and divine eros; he described the earthly attraction to the physical form and body of another as vulgar eros which could transcend to a love of Supreme beauty which is divine eros and which is now often called platonic love. Perhaps that was the problem with Biblical Sodom; maybe they just got confused between eros and xenia, but then look what happened to those poor people.
In Korean as well, there are several words that could be translated into love in English. Well, actually there are several others, but in discussions with Korean teachers, five seem to be able to show different kinds of love, sarang (사랑), aejeong (애정), houi (호의), jaae (자애), and aeho (애호). In Korean sarang is the overarching concept of love and can be used in any circumstance: I love my parents: I love my friend; I love the mountains; I love my dog. Aejeong is used primarily affectionate love for a chosen person. This could mean the affection for a lover or a teacher’s affection for one of his/her students; it can also indicate erotic love depending on context, I am told. Houi is the warm love between friends. Jaae is interesting because it is the affectionate and benevolent love of a parent for the child, and it can also be the love of a god for the believer, but it doesn’t seem to go in the opposite direction. Fianlly, aeho is primarily used as a verb and is the love of an activity like a hobby or music, literature, or the arts. In languages other than English, the words for love and affection are often different according to the object, but interestingly, in English these are all gathered into one word.
In the culture of my family, the word love was even more confusing than the English dictionary definition. I have heard, “I love you,” shouted as an accusation. I have heard it as a cold statement of fact. I have heard it as a pitiful plea. I have experienced the word love used to cover up a variety of emotions from anger to fear to jealous attachment. I have experienced it as an emotionless expected fact – as if to say, “well, you are my husband/daughter/nephew/mother, so though I feel nothing I love you.” Just saying the word does not make it true, and using it to protect both the speaker and the hearer from the real emotion being felt makes it nothing more than a shield or a disguise. To get to the truth of love in radical oneness, we need to extract the essence of the true meaning of love and shift our perspective from the experience of our human manifestation to a broader, nay, the broadest perspective.
Emotion is part of the experience of a very small portion of the One. If we simply think of the diversity of emanations of the Creating Divine in the physical plane we will recognize that stone has no emotion; water has no emotion; a galaxy has no emotion. Though these physical forms may not generate emotion, what we human emanations call emotion can have an effect on the rest of the world of manifested objects. The emotions’ effect on plants was demonstrated as early as 1849 by Dr. Gustav Theodor Fechner in Germany, and a Japanese man by the name of Masaru Emoto, showed that positive and negative emotion can affect the aesthetic state of water in the late 1990’s. We may believe that water is affected by emotion but we do not imagine that it has emotion. Can we therefore attribute emotion, in the human sense, to the One or is that a form of anthropomorphism (attributing human attributes to non-human entities)? There are several ways of looking at this question, but let’s limit ourselves to two. One view of emotions is that they are manifested relative to our alignment with our Selves, that is to say, the more aligned we are with our Higher Selves the more positive our emotions and the more resistant the more negative. If this is the case, emotional state is qualified by resistance to the Oneness and therefore would not be an attribute of the Oneness. Another way of looking at the question is that if emotions are indeed manifestations then while they would be included within the Oneness, they would not be an essential part of the entirety, as there is certainly a great quantity of non-physical that is not manifesting.
In the Christian tradition we see statements such as “God is Love.” (1John 4:16; NRSV). From the Buddhist tradition, there are four characteristics of Brahma-vihara (sublime attitudes or abodes of Brahma), one of which is pure love. While written texts from all religions attribute some kind of emotion to the Divine, I wonder if perhaps the absolute purity would not be better described as a state. An emotion can change, drop, rise and fall again. An attitude, no matter how stable does not seem to have the non-finite quality that is required for the totality of the One; there seems to be sense of fixedness and limited direction. A nontemporal state however does seem to have more of the flavor of oneness to me. I would like to emphasize that I am not drawing a distinction between the oneness and human expression or that God is alien to humanity. In radical oneness, every thing and non-thing is intrinsically part of the One, and therefore emotion would be included within oneness, but oneness is also so much more than our physical manifestation that when attempting to conceive of the Whole, we need to expand our parameters.
What if we were to look at the Oneness as a nontemporal state of Love? How could we describe that state? If we look at definitions of the word love two essential qualities come to the fore: intimacy and well-being. Love in all of its forms seem to have these essential elements in common. Love is intimate; it moves toward more open, deep and close contact. Love also supports well-being; it moves in the direction of greater health and happiness. What endowments would it have? Though not limited to these, there are six that come to mind. Love is inclusive, accepting, active, unlimited by time, space or quantity, creative and subjective. I will explore each of these in depth and while every attempt on my part to describe the One, of which we are a part, is inadequate, perhaps through this exploration we can discover if we are thinking and feeling in the correct direction and if any helpful ideas emerge in the process. If we feel we are moving in the wrong direction, then my proposed description can be eliminated and we can focus attention in another direction. If we find no new or helpful ideas then, perhaps the distinction I am trying to draw between love as an emotion or attitude and Love as a state is immaterial.
A nontemporal state of love would be inclusive of the entirety of the One. As we saw with the distinctions between love in Greek and Korean, the object of the emotion distinguishes the kind of love we feel for it. Even though we don’t have different words for it in English, we discriminate very carefully the kind of love we feel depending on the object. Emotions seem to discriminate and classify. But would the Creating Beingness distinguish between which of the creation is loved more or less? Would there be a Creator’s pet? In radical oneness that would be impossible, I believe. It is true that many groups of people have declared themselves favored by God, which is fine until they add, “to the exclusion of all other people,” to the end of that statement. But since all is part of and contained within the One, the idea of the creator portioning out love to this emanation of itself and not to that one smacks of human irrationality. All is created by and of God-stuff. The Creator not loving even one emanation of creation would be a kind of self-hate, a kind of personality disorder.
But many of us experience times, even lifetimes, of feeling ignored or hated by God, or the Universe. Materialists describe the Universe as indifferent. People suffering greatly feel abandoned by their Creator. Even the greatest mystics describe the well known dark night of the soul. Why would we feel like that if it were not true? If we, as humans with human psychology feel the displeasure or perhaps worse indifference of God, might that not be a projection of our insecurity rather than the truth of the discriminatory nature of the Divine One’s love? Part of the complexity of free will is that the One does not assert upon the One’s constituent parts. We are free to resist the love which is the essential nature of the One. I know that I find it difficult to accept my own insecurities and negative feelings about myslef. Many other people do as well. Since we cannot accept those feelings within ourselves we shift them to another source, which is called projection. If we feel the universe’s indifference, we are actually projecting our indifference on the Universe. If we feel God’s dissatisfaction, isn’t it possible that we are attributing our own feelings of self-disapproval to God? People who go through the transformative dark night of the soul come out the other end realizing that God’s love had never been withdrawn, but rather that they had become bored with a plateau in their spiritual quest for union, or that they had already moved to a deeper connection, but their ability to sense the fineness of the new level was inadequate. Our feelings of lack of love from our Divine Source are due to some misalignment within ourselves. The Creating One is within and is part of all of creation equally, and it isn’t that that One is sending love, but is essentially Love.
A nontemporal state of love would certainly be accepting. When I was an older child, not quite a teenager, used to throw a doozy of a tantrum, particularly when I was angry at myself. I remember one time I was trying to make a chocolate cake for my mother’s birthday. (I know, you are all thinking, awwwww, how sweet). Well, when the two layers of cake came out of the oven, they had risen too much in the center. I was probably about twelve years old, and I knew a little about baking, but not much, so I didn’t know the ways to solve the problem. I put frosting on the top of the bottom layer and then carefully I set the top layer on top. As I was trying to frost the top layer, already worried about how it would turn out, it broke in half. I was devastated. And then anger at myself and my failure welled up inside me to the point that I couldn’t control myself. I slammed down the spatula, stomped my way into my room making angry, wailing, growling noises like a furious animal, started hitting my head with my fists and trying to tear my blanket in turns. My anger and frustration did not quell and hitting myself was becoming less satisfying, so I turned to the objects in my room. I started throwing and smashing things on the shelves, including some of my most precious things. I think I was irrationally trying to destroy myself and all traces of my existence at the same time. (So, now, are you thinking….ooooo, psycho-baby?) That tantrum was extreme, but haven’t we all seen children, usually younger than I was then, throwing tantrums? In my family, parents tend to let the child work it out on their own, let the child cry itself out. Ignoring is one way parents deal with that. Some parents grab hold of the child and restrain. Some parents coddle, tickle, cajole, or even scream back at the child to get the child to change his/her behavior. But have you ever seen a parent just hold the child, not to restrain, but just to be there with the child. The parent could get a little beaten up in the process, but they just sit there with the struggling, out of control child. They fully accept everything in that moment. That is the kind of acceptance I am speaking about. That, I think, is the nontemporal state of acceptance of the One. The Divine One allows each and every manifesting existence to be what it is at every moment, without judging, forcing, or manipulating, but at the same time embracing each and every one in the Divine love.
Love is active. While it is indeed accepting, we must not confuse that with passivity. A love that is passive loses energy if it is not fed, the love of the Divine Creator must continue to expand and deepen to include all of the new creation that God manifests within the Godself. It actively moves in the direction of intimacy and well-being. It reaches inward and outward simultaneously. It welcomes the new manifestation, the prodigal manifestation, and deepens its relationship with aligned manifestation. It is this aspect of love that, I believe, supports and sustains all of creation. If love were not active, all of manifestation would simultaneously crumble to non-existence.
We as manifesting humans say that we fall in love at first sight or over time. We see beginnings and even ends to love. Love as a nontemporal state would have none of those starts and stops. We also feel that love often loses strength with distance, be it physical or emotional, but in radical oneness, since there is no separation, there would be no distance to overcome. We also feel that love can increase and decrease in strength, but as an aspect of an infinite beingness there would be no possibility of increase of decrease – it would be all or nothing, and I feel that it is all. As an an emotion of manifesting life forms, we are so overwhelmed by the time and space we are manifesting in that it can be difficult to imagine anything without those limits, but for the One all is limitless. And since the ideas of past and present are not part of the nontemporal One, the only thing that exists is the ever renewing Now. So love as a nontemporal state would be ever renewing, fresh and powerful in the Now.
Love is creative. I am honestly pulling this from my own emanating human perspective, but I still think this is correct. The more I love something the more I want to create of it. If I love one of my creations, I want to keep on doing it and expanding upon it. For example, I love baking. I love the product of baking, the artistry of baking and sharing the results with people. The more I feel love going out towards my creation and love returning from the results of my creation, the more I want to create. It is a cycle that is reflected in the manifesting universe. The first few stars were so pleasurable and loved that they kept and keep being created. On this planet, the dinosaurs were so loved that they continued to be created. I was taught that they went extinct. The dinosaurs were wiped off of the face of the planet. Does that show love? But what if that were looked at a little differently. They were loved, and through that love were refined, and when the forms that were no longer sustainable were allowed to pass, the refined birds and reptiles were loved and continued. The dinosaurs, whose physical manifestations were outdated, did not lose love but were loved back into nonphysical and then perhaps back into physical in a new form, one that was more efficient and sustainable. A creative and accepting love is not attached to form, it moves and follows and carries along. Never losing strength or well-being.
Love as a nontemporal state of radical oneness must be by definition subjective. There is no object to be loved. All is contained within and is inseparably part of the Creator. From God’s perspective, there is nothing to love but Self in of of the Divine states and manifestations and non-manifestations. This may be difficult for some of us, for some humans in this manifestation, because so many of us are taught that too much love of self is wrong, is egotistical, but this is not the truth. Egotism is not just self-love, it is actually self protection and resistance of other. Look at the animals, especially the animals in the wild. They may humble themselves to fit in with a pack or some other social structure, but when left on their own and secure, we can see the complete love they have for themselves. It is natural. If we truly love ourselves we gain the strength to love others better. If we truly love ourselves and care for ourselves, we are more open and generous.
I think these qualities of a nontemporal state of love are very helpful in our concept of the Divine Creating God. They fit a model of sustainable oneness very well. But does this have any impact or does it have any implications for my loved and loving, reading humans? When we move to the materially manifested plane, love also loses purity and permanence. This is natural and, if we can be open, helpful. We can use the Creator’s state as a true north to keep ourselves pointed in the right direction. In manifested emotion, there is a spectrum that moves from and returns to love. For us human emanations we need to have the variety of contrast to distinguish the love that we want. We need to have contrast, not opposite, but contrast to know which direction to point our loving creativity.
We often think that the opposite of love is hate, but I think the opposite of love is fear. Love accepts, includes, and is creative. Fear rejects, excludes and does not create. One may say that hate does as well, but let’s look at activity. Love is active, and so is hate. Fear can be very passive. It can hide and stay motionless. So in the manifested emotions, we have love and fear. More love, less fear. More fear, less love. I want to emphasize I am not speaking of opposites in the manifesting realm, but rather a spectrum that leads from and to love, the primary emotion/state. We manifesting humans need fear to point us toward love. What are we reaching for? We are reaching for a love that is inclusive, accepting, active, unlimited by time, space or quantity, creative and subjective. So many of us choose who to love and not to love. It is shown in the Korean word aejeong. We need to be reaching for a more inclusive love of all of creation, even the things, the manifestations, we fear. This is not easy, but, it should be the goal. We should not dole out our love in portions as so many of us do. I’ll give this much love to you and a little more to you. This is a behavior borne of lack – I only have so much love to give, so I have to ration it out. The truth is the more love we give, the more we have. Paradox? Yes. Truth? Exquisitely, yes. For some reason, we think that love is only creative when we are speaking in sexual terms, progeneration. Love is so much more creative than that. We can create works of art or intellect through the love of friends and colleagues. We can create diverse relationships and social connections through love of stranger. We can create a flourishing ecosystem through love of environment (better than we can through fear of destruction by a long shot). The love we reach for should also be accepting and active. We should actively accept everyone in all of their imperfections and pain. We should strive to accept even when we are rejected. This will be difficult to hear, but we should strive to accept even when we are abused. This does not mean to accept the behavior, by any means. We should not even think of having to accept the abuse. Self Preservation is fully honored in the One and in Divine love. But we should try to love the essence of Source that is in the abuser and understand that the abuser is reacting out of fear. The abuser is wounded and we could try to move towards love to creatively heal. Finally, we should also allow ourselves to love ourselves as the Divine One does. This is probably the first and most important step and from this all the rest can follow. If we love ourselves, we have the power and the desire to move to the other, which is in fact not other but me in the form of other, and love ourselves through the other/me.
Perhaps the most important place for all of us manifesting humans emanating from non-material is to learn to love ourselves fully, and the rest will naturally develop and express. Let me send my love to you now, in all of my imperfections and woundedness.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.