Transcribed from a talk on September 5, 2011
What we call LOVE seldom fails in arousing joy in our hearts, so much so that to be loved and to love is perhaps the most desired of all that we seek and we want it to be the fulcrum of our lives. This is what brings a smile, brings happiness and makes us look forward to life. The word “Love” seems to be so deeply connected with life that we always seek it in every aspect of living and in almost every relationship. They way it is expressed obviously varies across relationships but its sweet fragrance is felt everywhere.
Why is it then that love slips with time and doesn’t retain its purity and essence as it once did at the start of a relationship?
Why does the love for a lover transform into attachment and possessiveness – a needy and obsessive behavior?
Why does the love for a spouse change into mutual need for security – a give and take relationship that eventually leads to being more habituated with each other rather than sharing tender and exciting moments together?
Why does the love for a child become a form of control and discipline?
Why does love for God end up becoming a mere ritual, or worse, bringing on fanaticism dictated by fear, dependency and greed?
If we are honest enough we will probably identify ourselves with one or more of the above feelings and still be searching for that perfect Love. Maybe we will search for it in yet another women or man, in God or Guru, in some material object, maybe in some esoteric technique of meditation or in some other method of teaching. Without Love there is a void and we are desperate to fill that somehow.
Please realize that this is not a criticism of the exploration of Love through any of these avenues. There is no problem with this form of seeking it. The question here is to inquire whether there is a possibility of finding true Love without actually seeking it! Is it possible to come upon Love without moving anywhere and remaining exactly where we are, right here, right now?
To know that, we probably need to inquire deeper into what true Love actually is. The right way to begin would be first, to ponder and investigate what is not Love.
What Love is Not
Any emotion we label as Love, that has a selfish purpose or intention, cannot be termed as such. This is a misnomer. Therefore, loving someone with a view to gain from it, is not Love. Living together for a secured future is not Love. Dependency or the mere habit of being with your partner, is not Love. Possessiveness and control is not Love.
Many equate duty and responsibility with Love. Think again! Love that is reduced to mere dry ritualistic action without passion and bereft of joy that one derives from giving is pale and ugly, isn’t it?
Emotion too, can’t be described as Love as all we are seeing is only a state of mind which is subject to change.
Death of a loved one brings so much pain. I may miss a dear family member who died recently. I may remember him with tears in my eyes and say I love him. I miss him because his sudden disappearance has brought an emptiness with a sense of insecurity and fear in my life. Can I truly call this Love? Is it not still about myself? After all, the one who died may have reached the perfect place. It is I who seem to be displaced due to this loss, isn’t it?
So, isn’t it is obvious that if this feeling centers on me and my world it cannot be Love? Only if it is selfless can it be called Love.
Drop the Barrier to Love
Most people think of selflessness as if it is a character or a quality to be acquired, whereas true selflessness is not about acquiring anything, but, about dropping everything. The name itself is suggestive: SELF-LESS. Even the self is absent!
So can I drop whatever my self or “I‟ represents?
And what does my “I‟ represent? Doesn’t it include all thoughts, memories, concepts, all past learning’s and conditioning’s, all experiences and knowingness? Don’t all of these represent “ME‟? After, all what else is this me except a collection of all of these in entirety? All of these define who I am and my relationship with everything and everyone.
So can I die to all of this? If I cling to them, I am living a preconditioned, robotic life. My problems are the same although situations may differ, and so is my way of dealing with them. There seems to be nothing fresh and new in living. It is a repeat of the same old challenges, conflicts and situations.
If you are truly aware, you will clearly observe a pattern that defines you and your life. This pattern appears to keep repeating over and over again and you meet life with nothing new because you respond to everything through the faculty of your mind – a mind that is always old. It knows nothing beyond what it has learned, and what it seems to know through these learning’s. It has been conditioned to all that it has seen, heard, experienced and learned and it continues to respond to challenges through these faculties, so there is nothing new there. No matter how fresh you think your learning’s are, all of that is already old. Your mind has been conditioned to what you have already learned in the past.
So, we arrive at this vital understanding – “If I die to all concepts and knowingness carried from my past, which, in other words means the death of my mind, then perhaps I will come to experience and respond to life and its challenges spontaneously, from an instrument beyond the mind”.
Opening the Senses Opens You to Love
Have you ever looked at your problems, no matter how often they keep coming, as if they have just arisen? This means seeing them without being blinded by past worries and looking at them with new eyes. If yes, then you are meeting life as it is and not through thoughts projected from the lens of the past. You are truly dying to the earlier moment.
Dying to the earlier moment requires deep attention to anything and everything around you and inside you. “Attention‟ implies that you use your five senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell) fully, totally and when you do that – thought
disappears! And where there is no movement of thought, the ‘I’ disappears too! And where there is no ‘I’, there is only Love.
You can try this anytime, anyplace and with anything, even while sipping coffee, and you will know Love. Look intensely at the hot cup of coffee in front of you. Look at it fully. Feel the cup and let the steam graze your lips. Breathe in the aroma fully and then feel the liquid on your tongue. Keep in mind that this is NOT about concentration. I am not asking you to hold the cup of coffee as an object. “Attention‟ is a far more pervasive and expansive term. I am only asking you to employ all your senses fully in any task you engage in. You will be surprised at how much life and energy you invite into your being by doing so. You will then discover that you are born afresh, moment to moment. You will truly be living that moment, which in other words, means that you will be dying to your past.
If you are attentive enough you will also know the suffering of others. You will experience their pain through the instrument of your fully awakened five senses. You will be alive and buzzing with remarkable sensitivity. Suppose a family member has been ill for many years or a dear friend is in the final stages of a life- threatening disease. You may go through the same pain, anxiety, suffering and fear again and again, day after day. It depresses you and saps your energy, tiring you immensely. It numbs your will, leading to frustration, as nothing seems to work. You feel utterly helpless.
Can you still meet that person with a caring and sensitive heart, untouched and unaffected by the memory of past pain and anxiety? Can you meet him afresh and unconditioned? Can you look at him, not with sympathy, but as if you are looking at him with fresh eyes? Can you listen to him all anew? Can you comfort him as if you are touching him for the first time? If you can do so, then you will know what it is to die to all anxiety, all fear, all depression. This means your door to Love is always open, no matter what the conditions are. You may smile inwardly or you may even cry. It does not matter what you do at that moment. But you will know Love. And all that you have done to come upon Love is to give your complete attention by engaging all your five senses in objectless awareness.
You will also know what it means to respect others. A person who has no respect for others does not know Love because acceptance is lacking. And without acceptance of the “Now‟ or the “Present‟, there can be no attention. An arrogant person will miss being attentive since he cannot even listen to anyone and he is present to no one but himself. All he thinks, breathes and lives is himself. He is far away from Love.
Attention starts with acceptance of the “Now‟ or the “Present‟. And in that ever watchful state of deep observation lies the experience of Love, compassion, respect and true humility. We don‟t have to practice any of these noble moral virtues. Bringing all your senses into play, moment by moment, is enough.
Beyond the senses, beyond the ‘Now’
However, attention to the “Here‟ and “Now‟, through the instrument of the fully alive five senses, isn‟t enough to keep the “I‟ away forever. As I discovered, the “I‟ always comes back and along with it comes the conflicts associated with it. One of the most common examples of this is what transpires during sexual intercourse – the mind subsides, the “I‟ drops and it becomes a form of worship. In this act of worship all of the senses are employed and are in a heightened state, without any effort.
Following the dropping of the “I‟ there is the experience of Love, which is why the sexual act is always referred to as “making love‟. But I saw that this is temporary. For a few moments the “I‟ drops, but it always returns with all its conflicts and inner turmoil. Seeking isn’t over. Conflicts haven’t vanished. I then understood that I needed to go deeper than what my five senses revealed to me.
The “Present‟ was only a step, albeit an important one, but not the destination itself, much like how Manolaya (a thoughtless state in sitting meditation) is only a temporary suspension of thought and not the state in which the mind/ego has permanently fled. Love and ego cannot co-exist. For Love to remain alone, ego must perish forever. The “Present‟ or the “Now‟ does not provide a permanent solution to this. The reason why this is so is that by embracing ‘what is’ you can only know or experience Love but you cannot realize that YOU ARE THAT LOVE. Knowing something is different from being it. In knowingness there is always duality and hence there is a strong chance for conflicts to arise but in Being, all dualities cease to exist.
Death of ‘Now’ is true Love
The “Present‟ opens the gates of Love, but when it has served its purpose you must be willing to step out of that too – into the Timeless – and know yourself as that Love. This means that you must be willing to die to the present too, die to the waking state by reaching the Source itself – from where this present moment has manifested.
Love has given birth to this present moment. If you can know death closely, you can know what it is to BE Love. This presents a problem to many modern seekers. While a few take the „Here‟ and „Now‟ to be the only reality, and equate awareness only to a waking state consciousness, others even imagine life after death (heaven, astral planes, etc.) and that is the reason they close themselves to exploring death, for they fear it.
But true living must embrace death first for there is no other way. When you die to everything, which includes even this present moment, only then will you truly live and know yourself as Love. It is hard to describe in words but it is something like watching the entire mechanism of body/mind collapse. The whole world may seem to be crashing down on you. You may feel like you are sitting on a pyre and burning. Every cell of your body will revolt and you will feel your skin peeling off. This is only a process that takes away everything you once were holding on to. So, whatever you once knew yourself to be – the body form, mind, senses, breath, prana, oneness – all of that will burn in that fire and turn to ashes. It is not a very comfortable place to be in but there will be no escape till the movement comes to a halt.
Once this ends you will find yourself in another dimension altogether. You will know yourself as Love – the substratum of all. This is real silence where Consciousness itself will be missing. There will be no centre.
This of course does not mean that the Present or Consciousness will not be available again, but now it will be different. Attention, and with it the employing of all the five senses will be totally effortless and immediate. The alertness, compassion and sensitivity will all function on their own without the senses being a pursuer. There will no more be any seeking or searching. How can there be? How can Love search itself? You then don‟t have to call upon Love or invite it. Love will arrive AS the SELF and will be known to have never left in the first place. It is only then that the search for Love can truly end, not before. You will then do nothing except rest in that Love.
True Love is not when your heart skips a beat, but in knowing that the beat has just taken a long pause! This is knowing the death of the I AM even as you continue to live.
~ Rajiv Kapur