[Editor's Note from Chris: Br. Trevor and his bride to be Sarah are at the Integral Spiritual Experience 2: The Future of Love. Trevor will be sending in journal entries from the event and I will be posting them. Here is the second entry, enjoy...]
Entry 2- 12:36 pm, Dec. 30/2010 (What is Love?)
The event is already unfolding so fast there’s no way I’ll be able to keep up with it here. One of the beautiful things about this event is that there are some twenty-five spiritual teachers, most of whom could host a weekend similar to this themselves. But they have all chosen to come together to share the space, teach together, and compliment each other’s unique intelligences. This is of itself a meta or fractal example of (at least part) of what the ISE is (from my perspective) trying to accomplish, which is the birth of a new collective way of being together. A forty-five minute talk like the one Saniel Bonder and his wife Linda Groves-Bonder gave this morning could be unpacked for days and years. I’ll just try to relay some shreds and threads of wisdom coming my way so far (without necessarily, due to time, acknowledging by name who all this wisdom is specifically coming from), so that folks at home may have a chance to contemplate and meditate on these themes at home in sync and in solidarity with the folks gathered here right now.
What is love? After only half a day I realized I don’t think I’ve ever really contemplated this question in any depth.
Rabbi Marc Gafni makes the (I think deep and important) point that the only God we have left in our society is Aphrodite. And even then, it’s in a degraded form, cheapened by countless hallmark cards, trite Hollywood romantic comedies, and incessant commercialization of the message that we must and can only find love in a relationship with another human being (with the anxiety ridden sub-textual message that if you don’t find love this way, you will never experience love). Perhaps the reason I haven’t really contemplated love very much, is that our culture has watered the word down to the point of a banal emptiness, or a fear based interpersonal necessity.
The context here is set higher, much higher. Both Ken Wilber (via video) and Marc Gafni placed love in a cosmic context, as the core animating force (Eros) of evolution and the cosmos. In the first episode of the Future of Love teleseries, Ken Wilber lays out a broad cosmic vision of love as the fundamental force in the universe, and I recommend giving a listen to that talk if this perspective is a new one (or even if it’s not, it’s a big ole vision!). I’m also reminded of the conversation Michael Dowd and Bruce Sanguin recently had on the Evolutionary Christianity teleseries, where Sanguin describes God as the non-coercive force of love in the universe that draws and attracts everything to it. Everything in the universe yearns to be in unity with this gently all-embracing God, and the story of cosmic evolution is creatively emergent movement toward higher and higher unities of integration, co-operation and consciousness, driving toward full unity in and as God, the Alpha and the Omega.
Love, I am learning, is not just a human emotion. Love is a perception, love is a realization of, as the philosopher Schopenhauer once wrote, the true fundamental nature of the universe, which is ultimately unity, oneness. To love God is to let God see through our eyes- the transfiguration. To be a lover is see with God’s eyes. To love someone is to see, witness, and love the divine spark that rests within them. To live my true and unique self is to make my perspective available to God.
Love is also about relations, and not just human relations, which our society teaches us. Everything is in relation, and we are in relation with all things. When I sat silently with this teaching I realized oh my God, I’m still to a large extent trapped in a modernist mindset, still separate from things, still looking at the world. What might it mean to truly love a tree, the ocean or to love the night? What might it mean to walk outside alone at night and to be in love with it, in open hearted loving relation with it? To open our heart, legs, body and spirit to it as living related other, and to love it? What might it look like to love another being, a plant, an animal, a human, not as object to be consumed, but as divine other in living dynamic relation with us. Martin Buber taught that in the I-Thou relationship, God is the dash.
Doing a four-quadrants of love, The Bonders asked, what might it mean to fall in love with our own bodies? To fall to fall in love with the divine fire in all of our hearts. What might it mean to fall in love with- gasp- our own egos? To love and embrace and integrate both our ego and our shadows, those fragmented places cut off in our psyche, our disowned voices. What might it mean to fall in love with who we are together, in the collective, in the we? What would it look like to be in a room, maybe at dinner with our family, and simply open our hearts and love what we are together? What would that bring to the field, to the world?