Ever since the discovery of spirituality in childhood, and even during my high school, young adult years as an agnostic,
I have valued Universal Love.
I returned to Christianity as a result of reading "The Cloud of Unknowing". The Cloud is a mystical Christian instruction in how to "yoke" with God in contemplation. It is all about love. "The Cloud" instructs one to hide the mind behind a cloud of unknowing, and penetrate the unknowing with "little arrows of love". Basically, silence the mind, and be open with and to Love.
As a Christian growing up, the statement of Paul, the Apostil, that "God is Love", was not lost on me, but the profundity of this statement eluded me. As I past into the non-dual teachings of Advaita, I began to wonder about "God" and myself. For a number of years I held an intellectual understanding of unicity, oneness, and the "I AM" . But years of Christian practice, both in and out of the monastery, had left me with a longing for a "God" that I now had to dismiss as being only in the mind.
This longing, love actually, was manifest as a response to life that said "God" to me everywhere. The sky, the forest, the desert would bring me to tears. Just the beauty, the stillness and complex simplicity was overwhelming. The work I did also took on a different feel. The people I worked with; the Developmentally Disabled, were full of love, and also often brought tears to my eyes in their simple lives and acceptance. Again this made me dwell on "God", the Absolute. I kept asking myself; Why did I "feel" love? I knew, intellectually that I was one with everything and that "God" was an "illusion". So why love? How can there be love between two "phantoms" in the mind?
Without going in to the whole story here, I experienced an awakening that intuitively showed me that yes indeed, there is no "God", and furthermore there is no "me". There is just Love. That "connection", that Love, is all there is. And that is what "we" are. I experience this in my life always. All is observable as an "unfolding" of unlimited potentiality. Ever moving, the "changeable changeless".
Love is quite and still in spite of it's dynamic quality. We must be quiet and still to "be" it. But most important is our need to "share" it. I am not talking about sharing with a "lover", but this can be part of it. Our "personal" love with a partner is not, nor should it ever be, a block to our "Awareness", or our ability to recognize our existence as love. But that love we have for a "lover" must be "pure", not lustful or selfish. It must be a nurturing ground for our "greater" Love.
Love needs to be put into practice. Not just "spiritual" practice, but in our dealings with all of the manifestation, including inanimate objects, however "base".
When the Religious Community I was co-founder of at Lincoln Cathedral was just in it's beginning stages, the Dean of Lincoln asked me to write the Rule for the community. This was a great privilege. But after leaving the community, and more than a decade of Advaita studies combined with the above experience, I rewrote "The Rule for the Community of the Living Sacrifice" into a small book entitled "Community of One". This book examines the rule for a Christian religious community in terms of Advaita. It was an attempt to describe a "life" of a seeker of truth, and the "Advaita of Christ".
In the chapter on the Eucharist, I detail what I refer to as 'The Eucharistic Circle of Love". Love is all there is. It is unfolding movement. In the book, I recall a lesson I learned from my birth Father. He was a journeyman electrician,
and I remember his explanation of electricity. He described it as a flow. From the source of power, the electricity flows through the wires, to the device to be "charged" or activated. A complete circuit is necessary. Remove one wire, one connection, and there is not only no power, there is no electricity. The electricity exists in "potential", but there is no flow.
In my book, I use the Eucharist as my "practice", but this can apply to any "practice", as long as it is a practice that "shuts down" the you, and opens you to love. In the Eucharistic example we have Love, as shown in the sacrifice on the cross,
which "flows" to the communicant by his "real" and "deep" participation in this "practice", and then to the world in the form of loving action or loving stillness. If we do not participate in the "practice", or we do not go out and share that love with the world, there is no flow. But not only is there no flow, there is love only in potential, not "realized".
Love is what we ARE. If practices alone are all we do, there is no flow of love, the "circle" is "broken". If we try to "do" for others without the "practice" of "centering" in some way, we will not be able to sustain our "efforts" as there is no "flow" of love, the "circle" again being "broken". Love remains "potential", but requires "flow".
So to recap: Love is what "you" ARE. Love is the "connection", without subject or object. Subject and object appear when the "connection" is present. "Practice" clears the way to the opening required for us to "be" Love. Once we realize Love is our true nature, we must "act" on it. If Love is what we ARE, then love is what we "do".
Complete the Circle, Be the Love.