Love is Love is Love

Recently, on that ambivalent modern phenomenon called Facebook, I came across this video about the Universality of Love!  It is my new favorite thing!  Seeing people hugging and kissing, dancing and pranaming on an x-ray screen, it’s plain to see that Love is Love.

Love has no gender
Love has no disability
Love has no age
Love has no race
Love has no species
Love has no religion

Love is love is love.  Love is a wave and the ocean.  Love is compassion and empathy and Oneness.  Love is Radical Equality – equal down to the very root of Being – more than equal, ONE, just not the same.  Love is timeless, eternal, constant and immutable.  Love is Perfect.  Love is messy.  Love is yearning, striving, struggling, growing and awakening.  Love Itself completes us.  Love is physical, metaphysical, quantum physical.  Love is the entanglement of particles everywhere – molecules, electrons, amoebas and the space they are all contained within.  Love is the very fabric of the Universe.  Love is life.  Love contains all that is not Love.  Love is God.  God is Love.  Love is a Mystery.

praying handsAs much as I love all the manifestations of God – all the mantras and chants, all the prayers and communion, all the images and idols, all the psalms and bhajans, all the wisdom or all traditions, it really just comes down to Love.  We can all have different religions, we can honor all religions or no religion, but we all have Universal Love.  Love IS – the rest is commentary.

And at the root of all those rituals and spiritual practices, it is all really about getting to the Love that is at the core of every person, every creature and every cell in this universe.  We can access this Love by honoring the love in all families, couples and peoples, without judgments about the particulars.  We can access this Love by serving the love in all humans and in caring for and protecting the love in our furry friends.  We can access this Love by nurturing our Earth and the creation we live in.  We can access this Love through prayer, meditation or sadhana.  We can access this Love through gratitude, awe and prostration.

In essence, we not only access this Love, but we BECOME this Love through LOVING.

Love is Love is Love.  Love the Love.  Be the Love.

Hari Om!  Namaste.  Amen.

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Please share and spread the love around!

LHNL_ProfilePicFor more support in ending bias, even subtle bias inside your own mind, visit LoveHasNoLabels.com

To support the equality of Love and help counterbalance all the politicians trying to “protect the sanctity of marriage” ( while proving how very much they love the institution by being married themselves 4 or 5 times!) – please visit the Human Rights Campaign.

The Radical Equality of Oneness

crowd-of-peopleI recently watched a spiritual documentary, a movie meant to be inspirational for living our life purpose, which it was.  However, there was this underlying premise that I found kind of bothersome.  Some of the best-selling authors and motivational speakers kept making comments like “Most people live in a trance, unawakened and on auto-pilot.”  There was reference to shopping mall consciousness and the general apathy of the larger part of humanity.  This kind of judgmental attitude towards billions of people on the planet struck me as actually contradictory to living my soul purpose, which is to love my neighbor as my Self.

In order to inspire us to live life to the fullest and really examine our passions and purpose, do we really need to think ill of most people?  It feels kind of like flippantly saying “everything is an illusion” – it is kind of rude.  And it seems not only unkind, but untrue.

5-inspiring-photograph-helpI find that “most people” find ways to express love in their lives – small ways, big ways, medium ways, all kinds of ways.  There are billions of people all over the world who do all kinds of good things – loving their children, supporting local charities, volunteering at local churches, feeding the homeless, giving to the Humane Society, sending care packages to soldiers overseas, donating their old clothes to thrift stores, taking care of their aging parents, helping a neighbor fix their garage door…  I could type all day long and the list would not come to an end.  These are all ways of expressing love and soul purpose.

I guess some best-selling authors or motivational speakers might not see a housewife’s passion for pottery as her fulfilling her purpose or going on her hero’s journey, but it IS her way of centering herself, meditating and putting love into what she does – not just in ceramic coffee cups or vases, but in all her actions as a human citizen.  Why is that “less than” doing a series of success seminars or writing books on how to live your dreams?

man-meditating-black-color-light-SSI also hear this underlying judgment of “most people” in spiritual circles sometimes.  Some of the sweetest most well-meaning people I know talk about how we have to hold the Light for all the un-spiritual people of the world or how we are part of the 2% of those who are focused on awakening.  I am absolutely certain that I have said similar things many times, so in a way I am grateful to this movie for pointing this separation attitude out to me.  I intend to be more conscious, loving and inclusive in the future.

And it might be true that those who meditate on the Light of God hold Light for the whole planet.  I know there are great Masters and yogis in the Himalayas who spend their lives in service to the consciousness of humanity by holding the focus of God in meditation and prayer (though I doubt very much that they look down upon “most people”).  In our kirtan at Chinmaya last weekend, as we were chanting the name of God and proclaiming the victory of Lord Rama I could feel the energy ascending, radiating out in all directions and manifesting the Victory of Love on Earth!  I’m sure that was a good thing.

But there are many good things and many ways that most people hold Love and Light, too.  I want to be careful to not hang on to any subtle separation that divides the 2% from the 98% or creates any kind of us/them thinking or spiritual elite.  I don’t want to go around thinking that meditators are cooler than other people.  I am not separate from my sisters or co-workers or friends, I am not separate from all the kind-hearted people at my church who may not meditate but who have a sincere love for God and who try to be the best neighbors and grandmothers they can be.

parentWe are all part of the world we are creating together and we are all doing our parts to the best of our ability.  Who am I to say that my part is any more important that anyone else’s?  What would happen if all parents in the world stopped loving their children?  What would that do to the vibration of human consciousness?  I can’t even imagine how much upliftment and love all the parents of the world add to humanity!  Is it more or less than the amount of love people on a path of spiritual awakening contribute?

What would happen if all the dogs and cats in the world stopped being cute and opening human hearts to feel love? What would that do to the sum total of love in the world?  For that matter, what would happen if crickets stopped chirping their eternal Om?  How would that change the vibration of the planet?

What would happen if all those people who “just” go to church on Sundays stopped going to church?  If all the millions if not billions of people who go to churches and synagogues and mosques and temples to sing praises and honor God for an hour or two every week stopped doing that?  When I started going to the All Saints Cathedral I’d watch everyone standing in line going up for communion.  Some people would hold their hands in prayer, some people would stand in line glancing around at the people coming and going, but they were all participating in becoming one with the body of Christ.  Who am I to say that the person holding their hands in prayer is worth more spiritually?  Who am I to say that this person is contributing more than that person?  All I see is that something holy is happening and so many people are participating and it makes God happy and it’s 662026beautiful.  It could be that the 98% who focus on God one hour a week do more for human consciousness than the 2% that focus on God 40 hours a week.  I don’t think there is really a way to do the math, but the point is, it’s all good, we’re all contributing love to the world.

We are all an intricate whole.  We are all doing our parts and adding our vibrations of love in our own ways and we are all dependent on each other.  I don’ even know if I COULD  be focused on God or awakening if it wasn’t for all the people in the world loving their sons and daughters or their dogs and cats or their spouses.  If all those billions of people stopped holding love in their hearts and their daily lives, if all the artists and craftsmen of the world stopped putting love into every stitch, would there even be enough love in the world for me to focus on loving God?  Maybe the world would fall into such a low vibration that I would just fall into chaos and despair?  Could I even hope to awaken without everyone else doing their parts in the collective consciousness?

Instead of thinking of “most people” as living in an unconscious trance, I should be grateful to every single one of them for all the ways they help to lift me up!

I read the online bio of one of the speakers in the movie and it said “so-and-so is a major, major player in the spiritual transformation taking place on the planet today.”  It struck me as almost strange to say that.  Is that what we should want?  As a spiritual blogger, peace activist and someone wanting to help all of humanity live in Peace, Love and Happiness, should I, too, strive to be a major, major player?

MLK 1I know that there are great teachers and wondrous leaders in the world, of course, and I admire and love them and am grateful for all their inspiration and the power of their love.  But Martin Luther King could not do what he did without the nameless guy walking behind him, the nameless son of a nameless mother who feared for his life as he marched.  There were thousands of those nameless someones who marched and stood with Martin Luther King in countless unknown ways.  There were also all the nameless people sitting in their living rooms watching the protests, watching the injustice, feeling horrified as the peaceful protesters were beaten and arrested, simply for asking for equality.  Could the world have changed without those people feeling their hearts touched and crying alone in their homes?  Could we have changed our collective consciousness without any part of the whole?  We were all doing our part and in that way Martin Luther King is no greater than the nameless sons and daughters who marched with him or the nameless fathers and mothers who watched with wrenching hearts on the television set.  Or if he is greater, at least he is not separate from any one of us.

I think that if there is anything that makes a great leader great, that makes someone a “major, major player” in our evolution, it is the ability and the humility to see ourselves in all of humanity, to see ourselves as part of a greater whole and to love that wholeness as our Self.  There is a radical equality in Oneness, and to truly hold the Light for the planet is to remove any subtle judgments or separation, to see the beauty and perfection of “most people”, and to simply LOVE.

Sun light love

The Divine Purpose of Selfishness

me me meOn the spiritual path, selfishness and selflessness are two sides of the same coin and they can sometimes intermingle.

What I mean by that is that often our desire to even be on a spiritual path in the first place is in essence a selfish desire.  We want to end our suffering.  We want to know happiness.  We want our Enlightenment.  We want to live in Bliss.

While these desires might, in a sense, be more noble than desires such as wanting a new car or wanting a bigger house, they are still in essence coming from selfishness.

Once on our path, we might engage in service.  The Bible tells us to do charitable acts.  The Koran tells us to give alms to the poor.  The Gita tells us to do karma yoga, or “selfless action.”  Every yogic, Buddhist, Judeo-Christian or Muslim path has some form of seva or service.  So, you could say that in the beginning we might start out serving others as part of our goal of serving our own happiness, so again, from our own selfish desires.

Of course, this sounds bad, but I don’t think it is.  I think that is how God set it up.

Early on my spiritual path, that is what I wanted.  I was seeking Enlightenment.  I had enough of all this suffering and separation crap and I wanted me some bliss.  It was essentially selfish.  I wanted to know God, I wanted to understand the universe, I wanted to be happy.  Maybe somewhere mixed in there I had concerns about peace, unity, human rights and the environment, but mostly I just wanted God.

shabdaI remember this one retreat I was going on, I prayed “I want sammadhi, I want sammadhi, I want sammadhi” over and over again.  Sammadhi is the experience of Union with the Divine, a state of transcendent bliss that I had read about in many books and I wanted it!  I wrote my prayer on paper, over and over again.  “I want sammadhi, I want sammadhi, I want sammadhi.”  I filled the whole page.

At the time I thought I was being passionate about my spiritual path, that I was pouring my whole heart and soul into my desire for union with the Divine, but looking back at it, I must have looked like a three year old screaming for a toy.  I still yearn for union with the Divine, but hopefully I have grown a bit in the last 15 years and deepened my relationship with God a little bit.  At the time, sammadhi was something I wanted to experience for myself.

Yet, I can also see that the spiritual toddler that I was, screaming for my sammadhi, served a purpose.  It was a part of my spiritual development that helped me grow into a meditative pre-schooler, and then into a contemplative elementary schooler and eventually a mystical high school student.  I won’t presume to guess where I’m at in the whole process, but I at least hope I am continuing to learn.

I have this theory that every human quality has a Divine purpose or a good side.  Every human quality that we can see as a weakness or a detriment, when turned towards God is actually a good thing.  It’s just when these qualities are used to drive us away from God that they are “bad.”  So – I would say that wanting to live in blissy happiness and cozy comfy rose-colored Oneness with God is the Divine purpose of selfishness.

leprosy6And the beauty of the whole set up is that once we start to do our karma yoga or our charitable deeds, it doesn’t really matter if our internal motivation is for our own enlightenment.  As we serve down at the soup kitchen or animal shelter or children’s home, even though in a sense we were “faking it” from our own spiritual selfishness of wanting to be a good person – the very act of faking it begins to make it real.  God tricks us.  In our selfish desire to make sure we get into heaven, we begin to have our heart opened in compassion and understanding.  We open ourselves to witness the suffering and the inherent dignity and beauty of the people we are serving.  We begin to feel empathy and experience the actual Oneness of Heaven that we are hoping to attain later.  And we begin to actually spread the loving kindness of God to others and in doing so, we get to experience it ourselves.

God is pretty smart.

Pretty soon we aren’t even praying for sammadhi anymore, we’re not even selfishly in it for our own Enlightenment.  Pretty soon we just want to experience the heart breakingly exquisite feeling of being God’s instrument.  Pretty soon we just want to witness God’s Love touching other people.  Is that still coming from selfishness?  Is that still part of the selfish prayer to be One with the Love of God?  Sure.  Maybe.  Who cares.

Ironically, it was when I stopped praying for enlightenment and started praying to be an instrument that I actually started experiencing prolonged periods of happiness.  Could it be that Union with God and serving God is actually the same thing?  Again, I don’t presume to know.  But it seems that it is when we get out of the self, even in our desire for enlightenment, that we can be free of the self and actually start expanding towards enlightenment.  Oddly, we need our desire for sammadhi to propel us forward on our path, but as long as we are stuck in the self that craves sammadhi, we can’t actually GET to sammadhi.  It’s one of those ways that God is mischievous and tricky and very very funny.

There is this poem that I kept seeing on and off on my spiritual journey by Rabindranath Tagore – and now I get it:

54612e3a3e0271fd3064720d_seva2I slept and dreamt that life was joy.

I awoke and saw that life was service.

I acted and behold, service was joy.

 

How can I be Pro-Unity without being Anti-Anti-Unity?

preacher-manOutside the library, on the narrow part of the sidewalk that is officially public property, the preacher man is back.  Security can’t throw him off campus for trespassing unless he steps off the sidewalk, so now that he knows the rules, he has been coming for several days to proclaim loudly, at a booming volume, for 4 or 5 hours at a time, that all the college students, and probably most of the faculty and staff as well, are in league with Satan and are going to hell.

He rants and rails against the sinners, angrily proclaiming Christ’s unconditional love for them as long as they accept Jesus and get saved.  Wait… isn’t that a condition?  And the anger doesn’t feel like love.  This is confusing.

I wonder if he has ever converted one single solitary person to Christianity using these methods.  Usually what ends up happening is students gather around, a few outspoken ones start debating him, some clever students bring out a bible to quote back to this man.  One student made a sign that says “You’re doing it wrong.  Signed, God.”

A pastor friend of mine from the church just across the street from me, caddy corner to the screaming man, has written a few blog entries entreating these yelling Christians to stop hurting the Christian faith with their antics.  It’s not helping anyone know Christ and it gives other more gentle or loving Christians a bad name. You could even say this preacher man is driving people away from Christ.

jesus_cat-hugSometimes I imagine going out there and giving this angry man a hug.  Telling him that Jesus must have been a very loving and compassionate man, joyful, uplifting and inspiring to be around – not angry and yelling about fear and damnation.  But then I reconsider – I don’t really want to go out and oppose this man so set in his ways that he can yell for hours at full throttle, surrounded by students who are merely entertained.  I don’t really want to try to convert this man who is so set on converting me.  So, I simply send him some quiet love and pray that he will one day open his heart to love all of humanity like Christ does and allow the love of God to truly touch his soul.

It’s funny, because as I was walking back from lunch, before this man returned to his sidewalk soapbox, I was thinking about how hard it is to be Pro-Unity without being Anti anything. Then I read the post from my friend Meyla about how there is no right or wrong, and then the yelling started.

So, if there is no right or wrong – how do I hold that position to be the truth?  How do I tell people who think there IS right and wrong that they are… wrong?

How do I hold the Unity of All Religions, that there is only ONE God and God is loving us through all religions, and that ALL people are included in that Unity, when this man’s religion has him screaming at the top of his lungs that his way is the ONLY way and everyone else is going to hell.  How do I include his religion in my Unity?

We have talked about this in our Unity & Peace meetings.   We are FOR Peace, but that doesn’t mean we are ANTI military.  As long as we live in a society that is choosing to create war and armed conflict, the people who are serving in our military deserve only the deepest compassion, care and support.  I can’t imagine what they go through.  So, we are collecting items for a local veterans club to make into care packages for our troops for the holidays – sending our love and prayers for peace to those who need it most.

unityBut I find this whole concept of Unity and Oneness hard to navigate in this world of polarities.  And I’m not quite sure what is the “right” way to go about it all (see what I mean?  For there to be a right way, there has to be a wrong way, right?).

I notice that several times in my writing I am responding to something that I disagree with – like today with the screaming man on the sidewalk, or Monday with the karma, or last week with the crazy parts of the bible that are simply unjust, or a few weeks ago when the meditation instructor said “the mind isn’t designed to be in harmony with the soul.”  It’s not that I’m trying to make anyone wrong, I’m not wanting to exclude anyone from the love, peace and happiness I am writing about, I’m just trying to classify or describe what I’m feeling.  As my old English professor might have called it: compare and contrast.  But how do I compare and contrast without making “the other” less than or wrong or in fact, “other”?  Isn’t the whole point that I’m trying to make with my comparison and contrast that we are all One?  It all gets a bit confusing.

How do I speak up for what feels true to me, how do I stand up to injustice and oppression while staying in Unity Consciousness?  How do I oppose the violence of poverty or racism, sexism and homophobia without having an “enemy?”  How do I promote a sense of Unity and understanding between all cultures, religions and peoples without playing into the polarity, without saying – you’re wrong Mr. Preacherman, we are not going to hell and Gandhi and Ghaffar Khan and the Dalai Lama are closer to Christ than you feel to me to be, even though they are not even Christians.

DALAI LAMASo, this is my conundrum.  How can I be pro-Unity without judging those who are anti-unity as stupid or ignorant or wrong?? How can I be pro-Unity without being anti-anti-Unity?  I really don’t know.  Maybe I need to keep looking to Gandhi and Ghaffar Khan and the Dalai Lama as they all seemed to have grasped this much better than I do.

Ah – now I remember.  Amma has already given me the answer to this circular dilemma – Lokaha Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.  Whenever I am caught up in a spiral spiritual question that the dual mind cannot quite comprehend, just come back to is this consciousness.  Thank you.  May All Beings in All the Worlds Be Peaceful and Happy!