posted April 09, 2008 02:11 PM
What is Love, really?
The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power by Vernon Howard (1967)
The Power of Love Among People
We have seen that everything in our day can be used for self-enrichment. In this chapter we will discover the mystical way to healthy human relations which lead to that supreme state called love. These principles present you with entirely new ways for living in self-harmony while living with others.
Ask fifty people for their definition of love and you receive fifty different answers. Obviously, love is not something that the conditioned human mind can discover through personal viewpoints. Human reasoning can have opinions and attitudes about love, but only a spiritually attuned mind can know.
The mystics have a practical system for getting at the truth about anything, including love. It can be termed the “Not this and not that” method. By systematically discarding everything that love is not, we finally arrive at what it is- just as gold is left after clearing the pebbles.
Love is not dependency, idolization, sentimentality, craving, or physical attraction. Human relationships based on these attributes are strained, ready to break apart at any moment.
Genuine love does not start with an emotion. It begins with a state of consciousness, of clear awareness, of a deep understanding of both the self and the other person. Then, the emotions arising from this are legitimate, natural fruit. Tenderness and affection are among them. When an emotion comes first, it is not genuine love, only a counterfeit, which is really craving, or passion, or a wish to flee from an unwanted self into the other person.
Mystical love cannot be based on desire or craving. People sometimes say, “I have a painful craving for a certain person of the opposite sex whom I cannot have. How can I relieve my mind of this torture?”
“Try to see that the craving is not based on actual qualities of the other person, but rather in your idealistic imagination of him. He represents something you need, perhaps strength, or security, or affection. But this ideal is merely a need in you which you mistakenly assume is a reality in him. Try to see this. As you succeed, you will be astonished at how differently you see this so-called ideal person. He or she has not changed; you have.”
The Maiden At The Stream
A remarkable feature of mystical love is that it is both deeply personal, yet unattached. To unknowing people it often appears cold and blunt. But beneath the surface, it is warm, caring, responsive. It is the nature of authentic love to ignore the external impressions it makes on others, favorable or unfavorable. It does not care what people think; it does what its very compassionate nature impels it to do. Exterior show belongs to pseudo-love, motivated by self-glory in hope of attracting public praise.
The story is told of two disciples of mysticism who were returning one afternoon to their monastery. They came to a bridgeless stream where a pretty maiden sought to cross. When the first disciple announced his intension of carrying her across, his shocked companion objected, “No! We are sworn to purity. It violates our vows to even touch a woman.” Ignoring the objection, the first disciple boldly picked the woman up, waded across the stream, set her down and went on his way. For the next several miles, he was indignantly accused of conduct unbecoming a disciple. Finally, the first man turned to his companion and remarked, “Look, I left that woman back at the stream-you are still carrying her.”
Love is like that. It does what it sees to do and lets it go at that. “Perfect kindness acts without thinking of kindness.” (Lao-Tse)
Love is a state of psychic understanding. Lack of love is lack of comprehension. What must we understand? Take fear. The New Testament states that perfect love casts out fear. Fear arises in human relations whenever we want something from someone and worry that we won’t get it. The mystic-man has no fear because he has no demands upon others; he lives bountifully from his Kingdom of Heaven within. A love relationship is impossible when based on demand, subtle or obvious. Such pseudo-love is merely a bargain: “You be nice to me and I’ll be nice to you, but, if you cease to please me, I’ll go away.” The mystic life has none of that. It is an entirely different world.
The Mystic’s Compassion
How does the mystic see humanity? In an entirely different way from ordinary men and women. It is profitable for us also to see people from mystical viewpoint. It provides power.
The enlightened mystic sees human beings as little children. The children are sometimes nice and sometimes not so nice. If they behave badly, he knows it is because they have not as yet made contact with their spiritual being within.
He sees them as secret sufferers, for that is always the condition of little children in spiritual darkness. He has great compassion toward them, knowing the price they must continue to pay until they use their very suffering as a liberating teacher. He is like a father who hears his child call out in distress when they are separated in a crowd. While knowing that the distress is genuine, he also knows that the child need only look in the right direction to make everything all right.
“You are loved,” the mystic never ceases to proclaim, “far more than you think.”
Where ordinary man habitually blames and accuses others, the mystic has none of it. He knows why people behave as they do; he has no illusions that people could behave better if only their circumstances were different. He knows that wickedness is performed mechanically, unconsciously, by hypnotized people who think they are awake. Do you, he asks, blame an automobile for loosening its brakes and crashing into a building? No, you understand that an automobile does not know what it does to itself and to others.
But make no mistake, the mystic is not soft. He coddles no one. He is the toughest teacher on earth. Love won’t permit him to let others get away with it. The truth must be told at all costs, no matter who it hurts or how much. While not blaming a human machine for running wild, he insists that it cease to be a machine and turn into its birthright as a conscious human being.
George Gurdjieff once remarked that true love consists in aiding another’s development all the while knowing full well that the other person may snap at the extended helping hand. The loving person must willingly take the hostility of those he tries to help, just as a ranger takes the snarls of a bear with a thorn in its foot.
The spiritual man’s compassion springs from his insight into things as they are. Not only does he know that a New World exists but he dwells in it.
Twenty Special Secrets
1.When two people meet, the prize always goes to the one with the most self-insight. He will be calmer, more confident, more at ease with the other.
2.Never permit the behavior of other people to tell you how to feel.
3.Pay little attention to what people say or do. Instead, try to see their innermost motive for speaking and acting. (Now, apply this very same rule to yourself and you become an enlightened person!)
4.Any friendship requiring the submission of your original nature and dignity to another person is all wrong.
5.Mystically speaking, there is no difference between you and another person. This is why we cannot hurt another without hurting ourselves, nor help another without helping ourselves.
6.When we are free of all unnecessary desires toward other people, we can never be deceived or hurt.
7.You take a giant step toward psychological maturity when you refuse to angrily defend yourself against unjust slander, for one thing, resistance disturbs your own peace of mind.
8.You understand others to the exact degree that you really understand yourself. Work for more self-knowledge.
9.Do not be afraid to fully experience everything that happens to you in your human relations, especially the pains and disappointments. Do this, and everything becomes clear at last.
10.The individual who really knows what it means to love has no anxiety when his love is unseen or rejected.
11.If you painfully lose a valuable friend, do not rush out at once for a replacement. Such action prevents you from examining your heartache and breaking free of it.
12.Do not be afraid to be a nobody in the social world. This is a deeper and richer truth than appears on the surface.
13.Every unpleasant experience with another person is an opportunity to see people as they are, not as we mistakenly idealize them. The more unpleasant the person is, the more he can teach you.
14.You can be so wonderfully free from a sense of injury and injustice that you are surprised when you hear others complain of them
15.We cannot recognize a virtue in another person that we do not possess in ourselves. It takes a truly loving and patient person to recognize those virtues in another.
16.Do not mistake desire for love. Desire leaves home in a frantic search for one gratification after another. Love is at home with itself.
17.There are parts of you that want the loving life and parts that do not. Place yourself on the side of your positive forces; do all you can to aid and encourage them.
18.You must stop living so timidly, from fixed fears of what others will think of you and of what you will think of yourself.
19.Do not contrive to be a loving person; work to be a real person. Being real is being loving.
20.The greatest love you could ever offer to another is to so transform your inner life that others are attracted to your genuine example of goodness.
Answers To Questions About Love
“I know I behave unlovingly at times. How can I break the pattern?”
“Whenever it happens, do not agree with it internally. Supreme Knowledge within each of us speaks reproval whenever we act without love. Listen to that voice, not to your harsh behavior. A person can go on for months or years under the hypnosis of the unkindly false self. Gradually, you bring exterior action into line with the loving interior, just as a good father influences his unruly son for good.”
“Why is it so shocking to lose someone we love?”
“Because it brings us face to face with our own emptiness. If the marriage falls apart, or the sweetheart goes away, the sufferer’s first urge is to find a replacement to fill the void. You do this because you are scared, insecure, you feel unwanted and unloved. But, even if you find a replacement, it does nothing for you, really. The trembling is still there, only covered up. If a break-up occurs, examine your own driving need to find security in a replacement. Insight reveals that it can do nothing for you. Then beyond that shocking fact you make an amazing discovery: You see that the only security is in the truth itself. From that point on, all your relations with the opposite sex are entirely different. Because there is no fear, there is genuine love.”
“How can I get people to act as I wish?”
“You must have no ideas whatever as to how people should behave toward you. You want them to turn left. They turn right. You hope they do this. They do that. Why do you get hurt? Not because of what people do but because you have demanded they should do as you wish. Abolish all demands; then, people can behave any way they like while you remain at peace.”
“What happens when a self-aware person meets one still in psychic slumber? I mean, is it possible for them to love each other, for instance, when man meets woman?”
“A self-aware person can love a non-aware person, but the reverse is not possible. Two conscious human beings can exchange love, but two unawakened people cannot. How can they exchange a love they don’t have? Love comes with awakening. Hypnotized people can only give what they call love, for example, mutual flattery. Their relationship is based on desire, not love. This is easily observed. Notice how quickly the so-called love turns to resentment when a particular desire is denied or thwarted.”
How To Develop Love-Capacity
“Why all this contradiction in people? We talk so much about love but behave just the opposite.”
“Most talk about love is just that-talk. A man must behave according to his level of psychic development. No one can possibly behave on a higher level of love than the level he actually occupies. But remember, human beings are very cunning with exterior appearances of love, so don’t be fooled. By self-work, a man can raise his love-level. Then, he will behave differently, with more genuine compassion. That is an objective of the Mystic Path. We want to uplift our compassion by raising our spiritual level.”
“You once said that we develop our love-capacity by patiently enduring unloving words and actions from others. How?”
“Be willing to give up immediate and unhealthy pleasures for long-term riches. You may get an immediate sensation of pleasure by snapping back at an unkind person, but, if you do, you have lost a great opportunity for advancing your inner self. Instead, discover why you needed to snap back. You will discover your action sprang from the touchy ego-self. That very observation in itself weakens the ego.”
“I used to think that my whirlpool of social activities sprang from my love of people, from wanting to help them and to be with them. But now I feel oppressed by all these maddening involvements and wonder why I continue.”
“You do them not because they mean anything to you but because they distract you from your inner blankness. You just don’t know what else to do with yourself. Pull out. Do it gradually, if you like, but, for your mental and spiritual health, pull out. Get off by yourself and ask yourself whether you really want this kind of life. Honest inquiry will produce a tremendous sigh of relief. Now, you are starting to enjoy your life, for you are no longer sacrificing it to frantic involvements.”
“Why are human relations so painful? What can we do to ease the stress and anxiety?”
“In previous discussions, we saw that suffering is destroyed by bringing it up from the unconscious to the conscious level. Connect this with your human relations. Try to see how much pain you have because of unconscious hopes, demands, expectations, fears, and desires toward others. You want them to act in a way that pleases you. You desire friendship, conversation, sex, and so on. Try to see-really work at it-try to see that these very desires cause you pain, for you fear their failure. Now, can you abandon them? If so, suffering is impossible. You experience a fantastic relief, just like breaking through an entangling net.”
The Power of Psychic Awakening
Every man does the best he knows how, but no one actually does his best. Socrates points out that man’s basic error lies in ignorance of his true nature. This ignorance leads to false and fleeting values. Spiritual awakening corrects his values so that he cheerfully cherishes wisdom, and gentleness, and old-fashioned goodness.
As we awaken from psychic sleep, we see others in a new way. They look entirely different from before. We may think they have changed, when, really, it is ourselves who have altered. This introduces many rich benefits. For one thing, we can clearly distinguish between people on a higher level of understanding and those on a lower level. This is the same as seeing that people occupy different levels of love, for understanding is love. This insight leads us to seek out those on the higher level, for they are the ones with whom we now have more in common. There is no sense of superiority in leaving former friends; we just realize that we must go upward. With them or without them, we must go on.
Another healthy benefit derived is that of no longer fearing resentment, or disapproval, or accusation from others. You clearly see that their negative attacks belong to them; they have nothing whatsoever to do with you. Do you feel ill just because someone else does? It is like that.
Psychic awakening creates smooth relations with others, especially with those who are weak in spiritual understanding. Strong people understand weak people. The unpleasant or disloyal behavior of weak people cannot distress those who are genuinely strong. But unawakened people cannot live together harmoniously. They see and dislike weaknesses in others that unconsciously they have and dislike in themselves. This causes irritation, impatience, all sorts of grief. The only cure is spiritual strength. The only strength is Truth.
Sooner or later, along the Mystic Path, we make an enlightening discovery. We see that we cannot behave unlovingly toward others without paying the price in psychic disturbance. Does anyone do wrong? It is to himself that he does the wrong.” (Marcus Aurelius) At one time we may have thought this was a moralistic platitude just fine to teach children, but not applicable to a harsh world. Now we know it to be an unbreakable law of life. We see that unkind behavior is like burning down our own homes in order to strike back at unpleasant guests. But, at the same time, we also see the positive side of the law: We cannot love another without doing good to ourselves.
How To Handle Difficulties With People
From the mystical viewpoint, there is no such thing as difficulties with other people; the only difficulty is within ourselves. We need only to clear our own psychological confusion; then, that inner clarity enables us to handle anything coming from the outside. On the human level we may find others to be troublesome and disloyal, but, if our essential self dwells on the spiritual level, we cannot be injured. Like this:
“I suppose I’m too sensitive, but how can I prevent people from hurting my feelings.”?
“No one on earth can hurt you, unless you accept the hurt in your own mind. What if you are offered a sour apple but refuse to take it? To whom does the sourness belong? As the false sense of self falls away, so does your acceptance of the sour apples of criticism and unkindness from others. The problem is not other people; it is your reaction.”
Let’s see how increased insight changes our attitudes and, thereby, lessens our difficulties with others. Our awakened awareness reveals that nobody is really as happy as we previously thought. We see through the masks that people wear; we see how hard they work to convince themselves and others that all is well. It’s all an act, and how clearly we realize it. Their nervous social and business pursuits, and their empty amusements, no longer fool us. We know they wake up the next morning with dread of the day.
We understand all this because we have first seen through our own pretenses. They are repeating the very same wearisome stage performance that used to keep us so tired.
This completely alters our viewpoints and relations. We are no longer critical or envious. Our previous envy sprang from the illusion that others had more out of life that we, but we know better. We see them as secret sufferers, just as we used to be. Seeing this, we can no longer think or act harshly toward them. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once remarked that if we could see the concealed sorrows of others’ we would be very tender toward them.
We forgive them as we forgive ourselves. Our new gentleness toward ourselves can now extend itself freely to others.
And now we understand something for the first time, something previously blocked by pride and vanity: Love is not of the human self, but of the Supreme within us. This makes us smile for a dozen reasons; one, being that we need no longer work at love; we need only rest in the Supreme, which is love itself.
From this lofty height, various expressions of love among people, including affection, drift down.
A world of weary people yearns for affection. What a sadly needed form of love affection is, whether it be a cheery word, or an understanding nod, or a touch of the hand. Rich people would gladly give up their treasures for this precious jewel. Those with power and prestige would exchange everything for someone with whom they could experience the affectionate way of life.
Exchange of affection between two people, perhaps man and woman, is possible only when both possess the capacity. It cannot be one-sided. A person capable of giving genuine affection will also be able to receive it, for they are two parts of the single ability, just as a wave advances and recedes.
Affection grows naturally as we awaken to our true nature.
An Esoteric Revelation About Love
Lasting love infills the individual living from his True Self. The True Self is love. It is impossible for people living from their authentic identities to quarrel or hurt each other. They do not and cannot see another person as a rival, or as a threat. The other person is not a separate identity to be feared; therefore, only quiet understanding passes back and forth between them. There is no impulsive behavior or thoughtless mistakes. “Love is infallible; it has no errors, for all errors are the want of love.” (William Law)
We may see each other as being individual in physical appearance and as being different in human personality, but we do not see others as being different in spiritual identity. We are One. Just as the moon reflects the same light in several ponds, so are we the individual reflections of the Single Supreme.
Any effort of the false self toward love is unnatural in appearance and tragic in consequence. Lebanese poet and mystic, Kahlil Gibran, once declared that men and women lose the spirit of love because of their own wrong concepts about it. Love is not what the conditioned human mind wants to be, but always what it really is. A false desire for love to be this or that is like adding paint to a river in order to give color to a waterfall. Love must be left alone by the mind; it must be permitted to be exactly what it is. Love, when left alone, glows in all its natural beauty.
Problems relating to love will never again cause distress, once you grasp this esoteric secret: Love does not arise from the conditioned human mind. Thinking about love is not the same as knowing love. The mind must break through its social conditioning and enter an awareness of Reality, which is love. Then, we rest from concern over all things, including the need to have someone to love and someone to love us. Referring to Christ’s teaching to take no thought for tomorrow, Dr. Paul Brunton explains:
He meant that we should cease worrying, cease being anxious, let go of all disturbing thoughts, and resign all problems to the Overself, to the higher power. By logical, rational thinking, you may find a human solution, but by ceasing to think, by taking no thought and relinquishing your problem, the higher power is then given an opportunity to deal with it. To take no thought means to still the mind; to sit and enter into real meditation. Thereby the Overself is given a chance to come and take thought on your behalf for you. (Paul Brunton)
We must be like Jason who was promised the Golden Fleece, if he would perform certain heroic tasks. In spite of all his suspense and uncertainty, he boldly accepted the challenge. One by one, he achieved the seemingly impossible, aided by the magic skill of the princes Medea.
So can we accept the challenges of the Mystic Path, regardless of our deep doubts and confusions. And so can we, aided by the magical Higher Power, turn impossibilities into living victories.
Truths in this chapter about the power of love
1.You can use every human relationship to build a life of love.
2.We discern love’s authentic nature by first seeing what it is not.
3.Love is a state of psychic understanding, of elevated awareness.
4.You are loved far more than you think.
5.To be considerate of others without their knowledge is love in action.
6.To be real is to be loving.
7.Our love-capacity develops spontaneously as we sincerely walk the Mystic Path.
8.Self-understanding leads to other-understanding which leads to compassion and gentleness.
9.Love is not of the conditioned mind, but of the Supreme.
10.When we are fully loving we have no cares whatsoever.