4. A Beating Heart & Universal Love
This area of experience is all about connection.
Connection with humans, with animals, with nature, with our belongings, but especially with humans. As humans, we are capable of expressions of love that are far more complex than any other thing in the Universe and so we are uniquely made to meet each other in this space.
Love is all about meeting each other, giving to someone who can receive what we’re sharing and being open to receive that which is being given to us.
When we are together, hearts have conversations with each other all the time without us realising it. We are communicating shared emotions through felt senses, meaning through subconscious messages, and understanding through things like body language and social signalling.
Love is never static, it is always in the process of being given and received. This means that love is also inherently incomplete because there has to be a separate receiver and giver.
‘A knife doesn’t cut itself, fire doesn’t burn itself, light doesn’t illumine itself’
Non-duality in this case is about giving and receiving freely without trying to control what you are giving or discriminate against what you are receiving.
It sounds beautiful, but often this ends up not being that pretty. Loving what is there freely can just as often mean grief, pain, heart-ache and disappointment as it can mean joy, happiness, care and connection.
Loving something doesn’t mean to like it – it means to be open to receiving and giving freely. When we are closed-minded, disengaged from our bodies, overwhelmed with emotion or being shut out of experience by someone or something we can’t connect with what is truly happening. Things get distorted by the perceptions that are trying to keep us safe, separate and disconnected from the thing that we don’t trust.
The most common way that this happens is through addiction to thought patterns. Other common addictions in our society include power, money, status, drugs and attention.
Studies have shown that addiction arises because we don’t have enough connection. We are also more likely to fall into addictive patterns when we are hungry, angry, lonely, tired or stressed.
These states can come from a lack of connection with our physical needs – for example, we may be tired because we just aren’t getting enough sleep – but they are also somatic manifestations of different types of trauma where we aren’t being met in the way that we need to be. For example, chronic fatigue arises when someone feels like they aren’t enough because they aren’t being seen or listened to.
On the flip side, a lack of connection, or separation and addiction, can be a huge driver for growth. Capitalism is built on this and while it has some serious shadow sides to it, there are also some huge benefits that have come through the system from the growth spurt that has occurred in the last hundred years or so.
A sense of connection creates a feeling of contentment. People are less driven to push themselves to take huge risks and go through incredibly difficult experiences if they have their needs met already.
In an environment where people aren’t getting the connection they need, the addictive cycle becomes a warped expression of love – people are doing their best to get their needs met in the environment that they have available to them at the time.
The entirety of the Universe is made up of this process of giving and receiving and this is what I mean by Universal Love.
As part of the process I went through, I had to love every bit of life, including the bits of life that are unloveable. This was immensely painful and indescribable in a way. It was like being totally present with surrendering completely to the idea that things are just irredeemably terrible, again and again in all the different ways that that is possible.
Universal love includes everything in the past, everything in the present and all the possibilities of the future, so there was a lot to process. It fucking sucked like nothing else I have ever experienced has ever come close to and I have had a pretty hard life at times.
It is by going through this that I am now able to embody and hold this absolute clarity on experience.
We can only love in others what we can love in ourselves and when you love all of yourself, love just flows freely out of you without needing to protect yourself or pretend that reality is any different to what it is. I can see things as they are because I am not turning away from any aspect of it.
Part of this is what I call ‘dancing with the devil’. Loving the parts of experience that are unloveable doesn’t make them loveable, it just means that you are able to be with the discomfort of this without turning away.
It means that I am totally aware of the shortcomings of experience, the bits that feel dark, evil or irredeemably weird in some ways and don’t need to turn away from them. Often that bit of separation can actually be an opportunity to laugh at life or yourself, as a way to fuel creativity or as the little bit of darkness that keeps the spice of life alive.
The devil really is in the detail. It is my ability to perceive this aspect of experience clearly that allows me to cut through other people’s bullshit – all the subtle power grabs or mistruths that are there to mask what is really happening – and meet it with love. Not blaming or punishing it when I see it, but offering up a sense of love and connection for what the sincere desire that is underneath it.
Going through this process has also opened up a unique ability for me to be able to love other people through their most difficult states, which makes the process of them opening up to them much less painful. Because of what I’ve been through I can meet people exactly where they are.
Again, this relies on people being able to show up in a mature way that isn’t based on codependence. In a codependent relationship one of the most loving things you can do sometimes is to walk away.
Love is complicated, it can never be boiled down into simple formulas. It is only something that can be felt in this moment.
This is a huge area of experience, because it is essentially everything. So any forms of healing or awakening will contribute to your ability to be with this aspect of reality.
Some of the direct doorways to this experience are learning to be sincere with yourself and others; getting clear on your intentions and what feels important to you; meditating on inclusion by noticing which aspects of experience you are turning away from and working to bring them in to your experience; therapy focused on lifting shame and guilt; mediation and other mature forms of communication where people feel seen and heard; any meditation practice that actively validates different parts of our experience that we aren’t normally present with; and developing patience and the ability to be able to be with discomfort.