by Joseph Naft –
The sacred energy of love and compassion, the Great Heart of the World, embraces us all without condition, unifying all of life, unifying the whole creation within the warm spirit of kindness, appreciation and concern.
With good fortune, we may meet people in whom this unfettered love shines strongly, allowing all around to bask in its light. The great saints and bodhisattvas, utterly emptied of themselves, transmit such love and compassion. In some instances of communal worship, the substance of this boundless ocean of love may envelop the whole assembly. It may enter a true marriage and may inform the bonds between parents and children.
Whenever we look into another person’s eyes and recognize the sameness, that that person and I are the same, not really separate, this is love.
Despite appearances to the contrary, Divine love and compassion suffuse every corner of the world, even our own. Divine love stands before the awesome contradictions in our lives: our God-given freedom that offers the promise of profound joy as well as the suffering attendant on living. The Divine heart of compassion celebrates the beauty of the freedom within each person, a celebration made bittersweet by the price of freedom: inevitable suffering.
When we hear of or see another person’s misfortune, and we feel the pang of their suffering and are moved to extend the help that lies within our power, this is compassion.
For this we need strength, because suffering lies all around us. The daily news’ litany of catastrophes and evil deeds, large and small, could devastate us, were we awake to the whole of it and lacked the strength to bear it. But awakening through spiritual practice brings its own strength. And the suffering we see is more than balanced by the joy that flows to us along with love, protecting the compassionate from being overwhelmed by the force of suffering.
Universal love lies far beyond its pale imitation in the lower energies, where emotional attachment turns from “love” to hate, jealousy or despair. Nevertheless, the world is so constructed that it remains within our possibilities to participate in love knowingly.
That can only happen to the degree we empty ourselves of ourselves.
Self-referential motives, self-centeredness, attachment, expectation of something in return, grasping, setting of conditions, partial-heartedness – none of these have any place in love and in practice, completely block the action of love. Placing ourselves first and at the center forecloses the possibility of love.
Yet moments do come even to us, perhaps with our children or our pets or with the unexpected stranger, when we are briefly free of egocentric attachment and the true heart of objective love opens within us. In unguarded moments, our natural response to people is friendship, one of the faces of love.
To be able to love is a goal lofty and worthy enough to sustain our long journey along the path, drawing us ever forward.
Our common mother, the Earth, also loves, loves each one of us and all life in her biosphere. Like a self-centered and petulant child, we only too rarely return this love. And like a child, we so take for granted the love of our mother Earth, that we do not even recognize it. Yet her love is there for us individually, in nature and in the city, if we can but open to it.
One simple expression of it manifests as the beauty with which nature adorns herself. And there are other more direct expressions we may perceive, including a reservoir of spiritual energies within the Earth that we can draw upon.
As a species, we need to mature and not expect the Earth to continue indefinitely absorbing every insult and injury we pile upon her. We push these limits at the Earth’s and our own, peril. The Earth gives and gives and gives, perhaps more than she can afford. But because our material strength now exceeds our collective wisdom, the Earth needs us to find a place in our hearts for her.
By our inner work, by opening to higher energies, by purifying our will and intentions, we help cleanse our collective will, raise our collective level of being, and give back to the Earth and to human society. And we do this for love.
Love manifests in many forms, but always serves to unify.
Love’s unmistakable hallmark dissolves our veils of isolation and separation, allowing us to become more fully ourselves within the sweet scent of merging. Out of love we are born and into love we depart. In between, we seek love and love seeks us.
The world of universal love, a world beyond all forms, even beyond the world of light, corresponds to the worlds known as Atzilut (Emanation) in Kabbalah and Lahut (Boundless) in the Sufi cosmology.