Defining Love: Our Natural State of Being

October 9, 2018 Group Meditation Part 2 of 2

This talk happened October 9, 2018 at the Boundless Love Project’s Group Meditation. Before listening to the talk, we suggest you listen to this guided appreciative joy meditation, which preceded the talk.

This is the second talk in the training series, Being Medicine: How to Heal Yourself and Your World.

Defining Love: Our Natural State of Being

In the previous class we said the key to happiness is offering unconditional love to all people, beings, and life forms. But how do we define “love” exactly? Our culture has many conflicting definitions of love. Several cultural definitions of love are delusional forms of wanting and lust which will keep us mired in suffering and unskillful actions. True love does not cause suffering to ourselves or others.

Love is Not an Action

Therefore, in this talk, we clarity our definition of love. We can have loving actions, but defining love as an act is not helpful. Actions that seem loving may actually be inspired from greed, hatred, or other delusional intentions, and be the exact opposite of loving.

For example, if a person offers a hungry child on the street some food, that may seem like a kind act. But if their intention is to lure that child into their van and abduct them, the act is motivated by the delusions of greed and is unskillful.

For our purposes, love is better thought of as an internal state of being.

Love is the Mind Free of Active Delusions

And what is key to this internal state of love? Love can be thought of as a mind free of active delusion. When our minds are free of active delusion, love is what is left. When our mind is free of active delusion, the mind is clear, bright, wise, and grounded in the present moment. When our mind is free of active delusions, our heart is open, connected, and vulnerable, yet paradoxically the heart is also invulnerable to being harmed by the insults, judgment, or rejection of others. It is as if our inner love swallows up such negativity.

The Four Facets of Love

Just as water can be in a liquid, solid, or gaseous state, love can arise in our inner life in one of four ways. They are:

1. Kindness.

Kindness desires the wellbeing of self and others. Kindness wishes that we and others are happy, peaceful, and healthy.

Kindness is a skillful motivation for our activism. However, our delusion will try to limit our kindness to one or a few groups of beings. Our ego is content to be kind to those it likes and apathetic or cruel towards those it dislikes. To come out of our ego, we must consciously decide to direct our kindness towards all people, all beings, and all life forms, even when doing so is difficult, challenging, or upsetting.

2. Compassion.

Compassion is intimate with unpleasantness, while having no aversion to it.

Compassion is vital to both our inner spiritual growth and our external social progress. The sages of various wisdom traditions remind us that, “The way out of suffering is through.” To understand our suffering, we need to be willing to feel our suffering peacefully to clearly see how delusional stories cause it. Compassion allows us to hold our own suffering with an open heart, and a balanced mind, and with a sense of peace and ease. Compassion is what allows us to sooth our own suffering, learn from it, and move beyond it.

Moreover, being in the presence of others who are suffering often triggers delusional thoughts in ourselves that cause us to suffer as well. When lost in delusion, unbalanced, and hurting, we dramatically decrease our ability to heal others, and cannot teach by example how to be peaceful and compassionate during difficult situations. But when we have compassion, we can be close to our own suffering and close to theirs, with a balanced mind and an open heart, and true healing can happen.

3. Peace.

Peace accepts the now as it is, without any aversion or clinging to the present moment.

Social justice movements make gains slowly over years, decades, and generations. Setbacks, difficulties, and defeats are inevitable. Peace allows us to relate to these ups and downs with a sense of ease and balance. Peace prevents us from spinning off into despair, overwhelm, apathy, anger, or hedonism. Peace allows us to respond skillfully to whatever arises.

4. Joy.

Joy is intimate with pleasantness in the present moment, but does not greedily cling to that pleasantness.

Joy arising from celebrating the successes of ourselves and others, and also from appreciating all of the blessings in our life. Joy inspires creativity, energy, and a sense that anything is possible. Activists need to confront the misery in the world, but if they ignore the joy in the world, they will risk burn out and their actions will be less effective.

Feel Your Inner Love at All Times

All of these inner states of love generate very subtle, pleasant, calming feelings. These feelings include: energetic tingling, vibrations, bubbling, or flow sensations, warmth, connectedness, openness, spaciousness or emptiness (which point to an absence of sensations), calmness, relaxation, ease, and effortlessness. By trying to feel these subtle, pleasant feelings at all times, we ground ourselves in love, in our senses, and in the present moment. Then when any delusion-created emotions arise, because they are much louder and more obvious, they immediately alert us to the fact that an active delusion is present in the mind.

Next Class: Intentional Love Carries Us From Delusion to Unconditional Love

In the next class we will discuss how intentional love moves us from a mind full of impersonal, conditioned delusions, to a mind that is free of active delusions. Freeing the mind of active delusions allows us to more frequently feel, and act from, the wisdom and clarity of our inner love.