Tag Archive | Love

Spiritual Home

Something happened last night. I went to a different location for the blessing, the house of a woman visiting her daughter in California. The house had a peace I haven’t felt since I-don’t-know-when. Frankly, it radiated a warmth, love, and acceptance I have never felt in any church anywhere. While there, I thought, “Wow. There is so much healing and loving we can do before death.”

I still need help in cleaning my house, but I have found my inspiration. I have been looking inspiration for some time now. I hadn’t even known what I’d been looking for. That peace is available. With Barry’s sponsor’s death and the drama going on all around me, I have been just coping for a while.  I had forgotten that peace existed. I doubt that I’ll ever be willing to live without it again. It’s one of those things that, once you get a taste, you can never pretend you never tasted. It was like going home emotionally and spiritually. No matter how bad things get, I know that this state is accessible. It can never not be there. It never went anywhere. I just got lost.

Commitment to Love

“When we commit to love in our daily life, habits are shattered. We are necessarily working to end domination. Because we no longer are playing by the safe rules of the status quo, rules that if we obey guarantee us a specific outcome, love moves us to a new ground of being. This movement is what most people fear. If we are to galvanize the collective longing for spiritual well-being that is found in the practice of love, we must be more willing to identify the forms that longing will take in daily life.”Toward a Worldwide Culture of Love, bell hooks, Shambhala Sun, July 2006



I am learning the power of love. The idea is interesting that committing to love is not “safe.” What could be less safe than living in a world not committed to love?

As people grow tired of being abused by those in power, I am seeing a letting go of the abusers. People are done arguing or intellectually debating; they’re just not consenting to their own abuse any longer. Those in power look around and panic as they realize they are ruling over fewer and fewer people.

I have stayed in bad situations many times, out of a blue-collar sensibility that “commitment” is necessarily a good thing. After complaining about being treated poorly, some rational friend will always ask me, “Then why do you stay?” At the age of 46, I am finally out of good-sounding answers.

Love must start with oneself. If you can justify abuse against yourself, you will be justifying it against others post-haste. I don’t ever want to be the person that encouraged someone to stay in an abusive situation and then that person is permanently injured or even killed. I don’t want to be the voice saying, “Stay just a little longer…Just a little longer.” Living in an abusive situation makes life not worth living. Been there, done that.

Two Sublime States

Buddhism has four “sublime states”: love (metta), compassion (karuna), sympathetic joy (mudita), and equanimity (upekkha). I have a fascination with two of them—love and equanimity. I think the other two come from love and equanimity, or at least cannot survive without them.

Love fascinates me because it is the emotional component of nonduality. Nonduality can be a very abstract concept, until one gives any thought to its practical implications. All quotations come from Nyanaponika Thera.  “The Four Sublime States: Contemplations on Love, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity”, by Nyanaponika Thera. Access to Insight, 4 April 2011,http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel006.html . Retrieved on 3 May 2013. To me, the following quote sounds a lot like 1 Corinthians 13.

“Love, without desire to possess, knowing well that in the ultimate sense there is no possession and no possessor: this is the highest love. Love, without speaking and thinking of “I,” knowing well that this so-called “I” is a mere delusion. Love, without selecting and excluding, knowing well that to do so means to create love’s own contrasts: dislike, aversion and hatred. Love, embracing all beings: small and great, far and near, be it on earth, in the water or in the air. Love, embracing impartially all sentient beings, and not only those who are useful, pleasing or amusing to us.”

Love is what tells us that it’s not about us. Love erases the illusionary distinction between “us” and “them.” Remember the show “Family Ties” from the 1980s? It was about hippies raising at least one Reagan-ite conservative and his sisters. My parents are conservative and I am not. But love is there, even when agreement isn’t. If I hurt my parents, I hurt myself because we are all connected on all levels. The Buddha once said, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” I can love them without admiring them or wanting to emulate them. Love prevents equanimity from becoming cold and barren.

The Christians I respect are the ones that truly try to help others. Not the xenophobic, homophobic, and misogynistic ones. Such attitudes create division, which is the opposite of nonduality. Women, foreigners, and gays are not going anywhere. They exist, vote, and have influence in a whole host of ways. There’s an old saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Credibility comes from action—showing that you give a rat’s ass.

And then there is equanimity, probably my most sought-after value. “Equanimity is a perfect, unshakable balance of mind, rooted in insight. Looking at the world around us, and looking into our own heart, we see clearly how difficult it is to attain and maintain balance of mind.”

Equanimity is about getting off the emotional roller coaster. It prevents love from getting weak. Imagine workplaces where people possessed equanimity and emotional self-awareness. Conflicts would still arise, but they would be resolved civilly and in an adult manner. Recognition would exist as to just how interdependent the various organizational positions really are. How many people get fired because management does not have relationship skills? Oftentimes, the person who gets fired has job skills that are very hard and expensive to replace. It’s not that no one would ever get fired, but everyone would have alternative plans, just in case. Bad things would still occur, but we would be far more careful before we potentially traumatized someone, creating a variety of unpredictable consequences for everyone involved.

We are just not thoughtful enough, in my opinion, in how we treat people in general. Love and equanimity are the left and right hands of sane relationships.