From the sermon given at the Summer Solstice Worship Service, June 22, 2003.
Today’s program is the second in our series this year dealing with spiritual creativity. This time we will be focusing on the concept of Creating Through Love.
Whenever I go to speak to anyone about Love, I always immediately get hung up on trying to define what I mean when I use the word. This is problematic in and of itself because Love is not something that can be defined in words, really. But here I go again, attempting the impossible.
Love may be the most overused word in the English language. One day last year I decided to make a game of it, and counted every time I heard the word in the media or spoken by the people around me. I got to the high 60s by lunchtime before I got bored with the game and gave it up.
I think our obsession with the use of the word reflects how deeply we feel the need to know Love, and also how little we actually do. We constantly seek that which is beyond our reach. As the saying goes, many if not most people, seek Love in all the wrong places. There are plenty of country western and pop songs that acknowledge that fact. Usually these popular cultural messages to ourselves take the stance that this or that paramour over there is the wrong place, and what we need to do is seek Love with this or that other paramour over here instead. That’s a little like saying that we need less black and white in our lives, and should seek out grand new colors like. . .gray.
Like many other aspects of spirit, we do indeed seek Love in the wrong places. We look for Love outside of ourselves, in other people. Don’t get me wrong. Other people can provide important experiences in helping us learn to Love, giving us the opportunity to practice the expression of Love, and otherwise reflecting to us the true nature of Love. But Love is of spirit. For each of us, it originates from deep within our individual soul. Love is of God. . .and is God. . .and if you do not understand this, than no other human being on Planet Earth can make you experience it. They will just get in the way of the work you need to do with yourself, with the God within.
With his usual spirit-driven simplicity, Jesus of Nazareth made the need for us to get our priorities straight very clear, at least to those willing to listen. In Mark, Chapter 12, he is asked by some of the folks that were always on hand to try to trip him up by getting him in conflict with existing religious rules and dogma, to clarify which Jewish laws were the most important. . As quoted in Verses 30 and 31 he responds unequivocally with the following:
You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and with all your might;
this is the first commandment.
And the second is like to it.
You must love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.
One of the things I hear Jesus saying here is that absolutely first and foremost, you must find God within yourself. And thereafter, applying that Love to the people around you is the natural outgrowth of dedication to God.
When I am thinking about Love, I always think it is useful to look at what it is not. This helps me reject definitions that are distorted by the pull of physicality and are not spirit-based.
Love is not your second chakra. Although many people will automatically apply their definition of Love to their second chakra partners, I think this is unwise. (For those of you unfamiliar with the human energy system, the second chakra works with sexual and emotional information). Just because someone is willing to have sex with you does not mean that they love you or you love them. It just means they are willing to have the usually pleasurable experience of sex with you. Similarly, just because you and someone else share many intense personal emotions, does not mean there is Love going on. For those of us with bodies, the intense sensory experience of sexual and/or intimate personal contact, along with the gratification of potentially fulfilling the body’s incredibly strong need to procreate, blinds us to the fact that this experience is not really about Love.
I think most of us in this room know at least theoretically, that there is a difference between Love and lust. Love is what endures when you turn to your sexual partner in the morning and are blasted with sulphuric acid stinky breath, and are still glad to be there. It’s the calm acceptance of the other person’s quirky personalities traits which might otherwise repel you, as well as what attracts you in the heat of the passion. Too many people call the sexual enjoyment part Love, when that is really only a dull reflection of the real thing, that peaks its head out during some sexual encounters.
Similarly, Love is not the person who is willing to listen to your feelings during those inevitable times when we hit bleak periods of emotional distress. Spirit in female bodies in particular often confuse emotional intimacy with Love. Love is not a second chakra experience. Just because someone is willing to hold you while you cry or calmly listen while you rage about the injustices of the world, does not mean that they love you. It just means that for whatever reason, they are willing to help you with the emotional levels that you are not able or willing to work with on your own.
They may in fact be operating in conjunction with Love by helping you buy some time until you are capable of a greater level of body-spirit communication through your emotions. Maybe, maybe not. Love and compassion are distant cousins, but cousins nonetheless. They may also be operating out of other places, such as the need to control you or the need to avoid their own feelings. In any case, do not confuse emotional interactions with Love. Love is a state of being, and not an emotion. At its cleanest, Love happens in an environment of utter calm.
Love is also not your fourth chakra. This is something that even many of the most thoughtful, spiritually developed people I know often do not understand. Love does not originate in the fourth chakra, although it may dwell there as well as other places in our energy system. (For those of you unfamiliar with the human energy system, the fourth chakra is the center of affiliation, and is sometimes erroneously called the “love chakra.”) It’s not about to whom you are attracted or with whom you are connected for any reason, sexual, platonic or otherwise.
As spirit, we create affinity for other life based upon where we come from and where we want to go. For us, it’s all about evolution, and transition. The people we are drawn to are in our life for a purpose. To the extent that as individuals, we choose to commit our lives to learning about Love, the right people appear for that purpose as well. But do not confuse Love with connection, even for your family members or friends. Genuine Love is largely indiscriminate. You may and probably should choose how and with whom you wish to express affection but Love itself, if it is real, is universal in nature. Its comes from God and it is intended for all.
Again, the Master makes this clear in his words. In Luke, Chapter 6, Verses 27 through 35 Jesus is quoted as follows:
Love your enemy and do good to those who hate you.
Bless those who curse you and pray for the one who compels you to carry burdens.
For if you love those who love you, what is the blessing? Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good only to those who do good to you, what is your blessing?
For sinners also do the same.
But love your enemies and do good to them so your reward will increase
and you will become the sons of the Highest,
for he is gracious to the wicked and the cruel alike.
If you must associate Love with your energy system, my suggestion is that you begin to conceptualize it as a natural result of centering. As you learn to operate from the center of your head, you will find there an outpouring of Love with which to greet the sensate world. When you take from the body its natural propensity to judge those around you, by centering your spiritual awareness in that place which allows us to see the world neutrally, you create the backdrop to experience Love within you, and around you. And then you will be able to build your own version of Love, one step at a time.
The poets often say it best, when dancing around an ineffable concept such as Love. I’d like to leave you now with some powerful words from the Persian mystic and spiritual leader Kahlil Gibran. To me, this passage from his poem “On Love” rings as true as any words on the subject I have come across to date. This is not the maudlin, sentimental view of Love as an extension of the physical, but the radiant Love as a synonym of God the Creator and Destroyer of all the material world. In this piece, Gibran is acknowledging that real Love is a challenge that requires one to triumph over ego.
When Love beckons to you, follow it, though it’s ways are hard and steep.
And when its wings enfold you, yield to it.
Though the sword hidden among its pinions may wound you.
And when it speaks to you, believe in it,
Though its voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as Love crowns you, so shall it crucify you.
Even as it is for your growth, so is it for your pruning.
Even as it ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall it descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather
“I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of Love, for Love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
My prayer for all of us individually and as a community of people, is that indeed, we are found worthy.
Copyright 2003 by Rev. Resa Eileen Raven