What do we mean by love? Is it that surreal, albeit temporary feeling young lovers share? Is it a mother’s love for her child? Is it the deep admiration and respect for a friend, developed over many years and after many shared experiences? All of the above? Or is fundamental love something completely different from any of these?
Is love simply freedom? When we feel love, isn’t freedom what we feel? This will take some reflection to sort out, but if it is true that love is freedom, then the next question would be whether or not we can feel love at all times and under any circumstances, regardless of where we are or who we are with. If we could feel love in this manner, then the answer to humanity’s strife throughout its long and bloody history is right in front of our noses.
Fundamental love is not the same as *** love, or maternal love, or any love that depends upon someone or something to fulfill love’s completeness. That kind of love is never free; that kind of love depends upon fleeting and uncertain circumstances.
Understanding this, we naturally search for something to love that is not fleeting, something that we can depend upon, and too often something we only imagine in our minds. Our God, our ideals; these are things that can’t let us down because we have created them, and imagination is safe, not susceptible to loss as flesh and blood are, and although we believe that a more secure footing can be found here, imaginings, psychologically secure as they appear to be, are not real.
All of this translates into the fact that if we want to discover for ourselves what is real love, we must re-investigate love from an entirely new perspective. That’s the only way to prove to ourselves that love is, in actuality, freedom, and not merely an attachment or dependency that we have formed. Now we are really going to discover something new for ourselves.
This spirit of inquiry is actually a freedom in itself, a form of love because we leave the small self behind, which is our opinions, our thoughts, and our prejudices, and now we merely observe, similar to scientists seeking verifiable answers.
What is it that we observe, and how can we rid our minds of all the figments and imaginations that will surely skew any arrived at understanding we discover? Can we observe so carefully that we actually see, for a moment, that which is observing? If we can, then authentic love can’t be far behind, for when the fictional self is seen through, there is only the other, and when we completely identify with the other, we are identifying with humanity.
Then we are free, free from all fear, and this is true freedom, this is authentic love, because as long as we believe in the small self, it must be secured and defended, and security and fear is the antithesis of love. The small self is no more than a bureaucracy of hatred and comparisons, and the root of mankind’s violence.
We must get beyond this violence, and to those who don’t agree, I say to them; you may seek within or seek without, it is always your choice, but at least be honest with the results of your seeking. How do you feel? Is it authentic love? Are you free?
E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, http://www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com