Carlos, I have a question regarding a sentence you repeat in several of your articles: ‘Love what is’. Can you actually feel this kind of love everywhere, for everything that happens around you? Is it really possible to actually FEEL IT? How can someone practice this type of emotion regularly and in the same time being authentic?
Beautiful question. Not so easy to answer in a few words… not so easy to answer in words! But here is my attempt…
First of all, I feel I need to make a distinction between love as we often think about it and what can be called ‘real’ love, for lack of a better name.
Love as we usually think of it has mainly two aims: to propagate the species and to make us feel good. This is not the kind of love I will be talking about in this note. (99.9% of what you find anywhere about love—how to find it, how to keep it, how to make it grow, how to understand it, etc.—is about this kind of love.)
‘Real’ love, which is what I will be talking about here, is the knowing/the understanding/the vision that nothing is separated from yourself. That the table, the tree and the person in front of you are not objects separated form you but that you and the table and the tree and the person are all one same thing, one whole. This is Love.
This of course is not a common vision, and it is actually very rare in everyday life. This is a spiritual vision which is often referred to as awakening, or enlightenment, or the vision of God or many other names throughout history.
It is not so much that you feel it, otherwise again you would have the duality—you and the feeling. It is more that you ARE it. You become the recognition that everything is love, that there is nothing but love.
Can this be practiced? Yes and no. It can be practiced but the actual ‘experience’ of it is not the accumulation of the practice but the final living recognition of its truth. But, yes, practice may be an aspect that brings about this final recognition.
How to practice it? One way to start—and there are many others, but considering the space of the note I will only go in one direction1—is to realize that whatever you are doing, you do it because you want to feel good.
Think about what you do, anything. For example:
- You are reading this article. Why? Because you believe that this article may help you, in one way or another, to feel good.
- You go to a Yogilates class. Why? Because you believe it is going to make you feel good.
- You like to travel. Why? Because travelling feels good.
- You get married. Why? Because you love the other person. Loving makes you feel good.
- You have children. Why? Because having children makes you feel satisfied. And being satisfied feels good.
- Or you don’t want to have children. Why? Because you believe that having children will take too much time from you and you have so many things you like to do. Why? Because you believe that doing all those things is going to make you feel better than having children. And you want to feel good.
- You brush your teeth. Why? Because you don’t want your teeth to rot. That creates pain and you don’t like pain. You like to feel good.
- You go to work. Why? Because you make money and you have to pay your bills. Not being able to pay your bills makes you miserable. After you pay your bills you feel good.
- Or you go to work because you like what you do. Doing what you like makes you feel good.
- You ask for a pay rise at your job. Why? Because money brings security and security feels good.
- Or you are afraid to ask for a pay rise. Why? Because you don’t want to be ridiculed by your boss or you don’t want to get a NO for an answer. That does not feel good, and you want to feel good.
- You get a face-lift. Why? Because you believe that by doing so people, including yourself, are going to see you younger and that makes you feel good.
- You cheat on your wife or husband. Why? Because you are not feeling satisfied and you believe that by doing that you are going to feel good.
- You steal money from your company. Why? Because money bring a sense of security and security makes you feel good.
- Or you don’t steal money from your company even if you have a good opportunity to do so. Why? Because you understand that even though you may get the money, the feeling of going against your principles is going, in the long run, to make you feel miserable. You know that keeping your principles alive makes you feel much better than having a little more security. And you like to feel good.
I can go on indefinitely. Whatever we do, we do it because we want to feel good.
Now, one definition of feeling good is harmony. Our desire to feel good is our desire to find a sense of harmony. So whatever you do, you do it because knowingly or unknowingly, you are looking for harmony. And what is harmony? In Wikipedia, harmony is used as a synonym to peace and unity. Harmony comes from the Greek word harmos which means to join. Join what? The apparent separation we seem to experience in the world into the whole which is the truth of life. To join the pieces together into a whole, which is Love.
So, whatever we do, we do it because we believe that it is going to make us feel better, which is a search for harmony, peace and unity, which will take us to the experience of wholeness, which is the experience of Love.
Whatever we do, we do it because we are looking for harmony, we are looking for Love.
Let’s return to your question. ‘Loving what is’ is seeing that whatever happens is a search for Love. It may be completely and absolutely wrong, mistaken, missing the point (which, by the way, is the definition of sin: to miss the mark), but if you look deep enough, you will see that the essence of whatever is happening, sinful or heavenly, is Love. And so, ‘loving what is’ means that you embrace what is because you understand that what you are seeing is not what apparently seems, but is a search for harmony, for peace, for Love.
I’ll give an extreme example: Can you see an earthquake as love? Not easy, is it? But think about it… Of course from our own, little point of view as people, an earthquake is nothing but destruction. But on a bigger scale—on the scale of the Earth or even the scale of the Universe—an earthquake is nothing more than a search for balance of the planet, not different from a stomachache, which is nothing but the body’s search for balance. Balance, equilibrium, well-being are nothing but ways of Love.
Or can you see a murder as love? It’s as difficult as before. But again, think about it… Why will somebody commit murder? Well, there can be a thousand and one reasons. But any of those reasons come down to “I do it because by doing it, I am going to feel better”. It may be a completely and absolutely mistaken reasoning, and it probably is, but in the moment, in the moment of committing the murder, the vision is that by doing what I am doing I am going to benefit from it. It is going to help me feel good. And again here’s the need to feel good the need for harmony, for love.
And so, does understanding that even murder is love mean that you should cross your arms and do nothing else but be a passive spectator of the world? Well, if you feel that is your calling, then yes. But if you feel moved to do something, to change something, to improve something, then that is your calling. The difference is that you don’t create war. You SEE that there is no evil, that nobody is doing anything because they are bad. What we are all looking for is a sense of wellbeing, of harmony, of love. It may be pursued in a completely wrong way, missing the mark, committing sins, creating disharmony and pain and suffering, but in your vision, in what you see, you are able to go behind the surface and see the real motives. You ‘love what is’ because you only see love. At the same time you do what you have to do to bring the harmony back. That is also love. But there is no hatred, there is no negativity, there is no fight. You love what is, you accept what is, and you act according to your vision.
This is the practice. Start to SEE love everywhere. Start to see that there is nothing but love. Start to see that the table is made out of love, that the tree is nothing but love, that the cheater or the criminal or the murderer are acting out of love (definitely not something easy to do, but that is why is called a practice2). Start to see love everywhere and, in time, you may discover that there are no separate things. That there is not a me and a table and a tree and a person, but that all there is is love.
And then of course, you will have no option but to ‘love what is’.
¹ To practice love, you may also want to:
- See and hear the person in front of you.
- Treat the other person as you would treat yourself.
- Find a way to forgive/accept yourself as you are and then find the way to forgive/accept the other people as they are.
- Don’t have expectation of how other people should be.
- Don’t categorize people. Try to look at them as if you are seeing them for the first time.
- Make sure your needs are being taken care of before you take care of somebody else’s needs; and then be aware of other people’s needs, not just your own needs.
² By practice I mean practice your own understanding. It has of course nothing to do with repeating like a parrot: this is love, this is love, this is love. It is about seeing a situation, in particular a negative situation—and with a clear mind, with a mind that has space—by going beyond the first ‘natural’ impulse to call it by any other name, like bad, hatred, jealousy, stupidity, egoism, etc, etc, and instead, using your ‘higher’ intelligence to see that in reality, it’s nothing but love. This is the practice. The practice of using your ‘higher’ intelligence.