Somebody sent me a question about love, pointing out (accurately) that I don’t use that word much here.
Here are some of the things that came up for me…
Jnana and bhakti
There are two main approaches to spirituality: jnana (inquiry, insight, wisdom) and bhakti (love, compassion, devotion).
Over the last few years, jnana has been more in the foreground for me, in the form of various ways to do inquiry. Before this, there were several (pre-blog) years where bhakti was in the foreground as a practice and lived experience.
Both are fine of course. And at different times in our lives, one may be in the foreground for a while, and then the other, and then maybe neither, and then both.
Another thing about love is that it is used in many different meanings, and also can be filtered in different ways.
It can be filtered through a generally egocentric or ethnocentric or widening worldcentric way of being. Being exposed to people living from the two first of these, it is fine if I am inside of their circle of concern, but not so nice if I am outside of it. (Ku Klux Klan really do love whites, and I am sure it is a genuine love, but I if I am black and on the outside of that love, I may not appreciate it so much.)
Love, even world-centric love, is also filtered through beliefs. For instance, I may love somebody, but also think they should appreciate me, or be with me, or give me money, or generally behave the way I want. Love is then mixed up with much else that may not be so comfortable for those at the receiving end.
The view and emotion of love
There is also the view and emotion of love.
The view of love is Big Mind, or any views that approach Big Mind such as deepening and widening worldcentric circles of concern, a sense of no separation, of oneness, of recognition, and so on.
If I act from these views, my actions may be interpreted by others as coming from love. In reality, I am just acting from a sense or view of no separation, or recognition, or Big Mind, but it certainly looks like love, and I may even experience it as love – or not.
Which brings us to the emotion or experience of love. As with any content, the emotion or experience of love comes and goes. It is sometimes strong, sometimes, less strong, sometimes absent, sometimes mixed up with all sorts of other emotions. It is maybe not the most reliable basis for action.
But the view can be more stable. Unravelling beliefs, or finding myself as witness, the world of form is a seamless field and there is no absolute separation of I and Other anymore. From here, I will naturally live in ways that looks like love. And when the emotion is there to create a fuller and richer experience, that is the icing on the cake.
Impersonal and personal
A final thing that comes up for me is that love can be experienced as impersonal or personal, by either the giver or the receiver.
On the one hand, love in its essence is completely impersonal – embracing everyone and everything.
On the other hand, if my whole being is participating (present, engaged, wholehearted), and I am transparent and receptive, and interested in the other person as a human being, it tends to be experienced – by both, as more personal, more alive, more rich and full.