Synopsis: This mini love lesson starts with love’s spiritual mystery; then explores central questions by surveying what the wisdom masters of old taught; the spiritual goodness of love; religion, spirituality and love; erotic spiritual love; and more.
Love’s Spiritual MysteryOn the beach a couple with arms around each other, under a full moon, looking out over the vastness of the ocean’s rolling waves feels they are awesomely, spiritually connected in love with each other and the universe.
A family surrounding the mother and the just born, new member of their family feel much the same, wondrous effect. Dear, close friends also experience this standing together at the edge of the Grand Canyon as the sun sets magnificently behind the cliffs. High atop a mountain, a lone individual looks out over a vastness of snow capped peaks and the mountain hiker feels spiritually and superbly loved by an unknown something he or she does not care or need to define. What is this mysterious, yet great and grand, sense of the ‘spiritual’ that sometimes comes with a sense that one is permeated by a high and wondrous love?
Essential QuestionsDo you see love as spiritual?
Many people around the world and throughout history have described love as a spiritual phenomenon. For many love is the spiritual force in the universe. It is proclaimed that whether it be love of a newborn baby, a mate, a family, a people, love of country, or art, or music, or nature, or humanity, or life itself, or even existence, love is a mystical, grand, and glorious spiritual thing inspiring individuals and relationships to the best of what they can become. Do you see it this way?
Some say that because love is a spiritual force it, more than anything else, inspires our best and greatest actions. Especially might this be true for actions involving connection, cooperation, collaboration and unified effort.
Others suggest that the spiritual force of love is what makes it able to inspire great individual acts of risk, protection, dedication, loyalty and courage. That it is the spiritual force of love that’s behind the great acts of compassion and kindness in the universe is also a common teaching. Is that your view? Is love for you a great and grand, spiritual thing? If so, are all your love relationships spiritual? Are all love relationships in the world spiritual? Do we best deal with love by seeing it as essentially spiritual?
What The Wisdom Masters of Old TeachThere is an ancient Hindu teaching that says before there was anything there was just love. Love because of its nature had to create, so in an incredible, explosive burst love gave birth to all that exists, the heavenly spheres, time, space, everything. From that came life itself and all beings both heavenly and earth bound. From that Hindu teaching flows the concept that all that exists flows with love and we, therefore, best flow with love in all that we do.
Buddhism teaches that our life is to sing the song of compassionate love divine. Judaism, and later Jesus taught that we are to love God and love others as we love ourselves. John of the Epistles simply proclaimed “God is love”. Taoism puts forth erotic love as a supreme, spiritual love. Rumi, the great Sufi master of Islam, taught the ways of love are the ways of Allah and, therefore, are above and beyond all else. Furthermore, each and every form of true love is in fact but a manifestations of Allah’s love. Therefore, all true love is spiritual in its essential nature.
The ancient Egyptian Scriptures of Hathor and Isis, the Great Mother spiritual teachings of the Fertile Crescent and beyond, all hold love to be the greatest spiritual existence, practice and blessing. Again and again all the way back to the dawn of history love is exalted as a phenomenon of spirituality. In philosophy Plato’s great Symposium on Love speaks to love’s mysterious, mystical and metaphysical essence, as do philosophers in many ages and from many lands.
What is Spirituality?Explaining spirituality is not the easiest thing to do. To help your understanding and my comprehension of what spirituality is, let’s look at some different and some similar ideas.
1. Spirituality is that which connects you to both your essential, innermost, core self and at the same time to the awesome ‘all’ that is beyond all of us.
2. Spirituality is a way of relating and living with that which is greater than ourselves and ultimately with the greatest of all that is.
3. Spirituality is that which enables you to have some knowledge of the unknowable.
4. Spirituality is a mysterious awareness bringing us into connection, harmony and unity with that which is both serenely awesome and intimately colossal.
5. Spirituality is that which makes us feel safe at home in a frighteningly infinite universe.
6. Spirituality is our way of connecting with divine love.
Technically spirituality has to do with that which is of the spirit, i.e. the breath of life. Originally spirituality meant something more or less like being in-spirited or inspired by the breath of life which was the spiritual force and a gift of the gods or God. To be spiritually inspired was to commune with the eternal and universal or to be filled with the active essence of Divine love. Spirituality has commonly been seen as the way to be in connection with divinity, one’s higher power, the great spirit, the Saints, the jinns or spirit world, the great Goddess or the omnipresent, omniscient, great God – depending on one’s personal theology.
Non-Religious Spiritual LoveIt is important to note that philosophically one can be spiritual and at the same time agnostic or even atheist. In this case, spirituality is not seen as being dependent on religious belief but rather on having a reverential appreciation of anything more grand and greater than the one’s self, such as life, or existence, or beauty or love itself, etc. With this understanding one’s love can be seen as a highly spiritual entity or phenomenon no matter what one’s religious belief system is.
Understanding LoveTo find answers to the question “What is Love?”, I want to refer you back to the Definitions and discussions, and especially the Working Definition of Love already available at this site.
What Is Spiritual Love and What Does It Do for Us?If you haven’t already perceived or experienced it, imagine feeling loved by the cosmos, the life force, the universe, some great, transcendental, metaphysical entity, or by whatever so many people call God. That experience can be magnificently empowering, healing, motivating and for many, most of all, inspiring. It also can be enormously reassuring, comforting, caring and intimately, personally inspiring in a whole different way than anything else. Now imagine that the love connection you have with anyone and everyone you love, is linked to and saturated with a great and grand spiritual, power of love.
With a sense of that can you also then think that through love you are or you can be spiritually united with yourself and feel amazingly whole? For many people that seems to be their truth. Furthermore, through the spiritual force in love can you have a sense of being connected to all people, and creatures and spirits who genuinely love?
Spirituality and its essential love-based nature often is the lifeline that keeps people alive when nothing else would. Spirituality also is something that helps people let go of their biological life when staying physically alive is no longer tenable. Love, when recognized and sensed as a spiritual force, brings us what some call the Konos experience. That is when two or more people are gathered together in the spirit of love; they also can be united with something far greater and grander than the sum of their collected selves. This is reported to be experienced as awesome beyond imagination.
The Spiritual Goodness of LoveBy seeing a spiritual dimension to love, any healthy, real, love relationship can be seen, as at least partially if not wholly, a true goodness. By identifying love as a spiritual entity or phenomenon one can associate it with goodness and distance it from the purely selfish, or the destructive mentality that promotes ideas like “all’s fair in love and war” and the unethical corrupting mindset that proclaims “winning is the only thing that counts”. By comprehending love as a great, spiritual marvel one conceptually takes love to a higher plane, removing it from the trivial, the mundane and the lesser important factors in life.
Compassionate love, as the Buddhists teach, especially works against crass commercialism, common dishonesty and deception, against the power for power’s sake mindset, money hungry forces and the “dog eat dog” approach to business practices. The spiritual nature of love is seen to inspire higher order behavior, bring out empathetic and altruistic action, inspire lifelong dedication, and move people to great cooperative action in the service of all sorts of humanitarian and democratic causes. The spiritual component in love also sometimes is given credit for helping us move toward beauty and away from spiritless ugliness, toward natural wonder and away from lifeless, impersonal mechanization.
Love lived as a spiritual blessing can help lead to soaring actualization, improved lives and saved lives, and can help lead to the defeat of anti-human and anti-natural destructive forces.
Religion, Spirituality and LoveGreat numbers of people find their lessons about love and spirituality via religion and they benefit from doing so. Also unfortunately a lot of religion seems to get in the way of spirituality and, as sometimes practiced, leads away from healthy, real love. While some religions are quite healthfully love-centered and love-focused, sadly, there are others that seem to operate just the opposite.
See if you think this is true. “Spirituality without love does not exist. If this is true it proves ‘loveless religion’ to be ‘false religion’ because it is devoid of true spirituality”.
Some people’s religion primarily is guilt and shame dominated. Other people’s religion mostly is about escaping damnation (‘fire insurance religion’). For a great many people religion is just a great big “I’m okay you’re not” game (unless, of course, you are in my religion and behaving ever so correctly, as I think you should). For others it’s just a pleasant way of socializing or achieving status, or living in the safety of conformity.
I suggest none of this is spiritually love-focused. I like to recommend to people I counsel that when they are looking for a religious or spiritual involvement with others, check out the amount of love emphasis actually going on with those others. If the love emphasis is high it may be mentally healthy and if not, probably not.
Erotic Spiritual LoveA couple silently lays naked together after lovemaking and feels mystically, spiritually united with one another and with all space and time, and with all who have ever felt deep, spiritual love. Have you had this experience or something like it?
For many in the world spirituality and sex are seen as each other’s enemy. But this is not true for a great many others. For the Taoist many of the ways of being sexual are the ways of being spiritual. For Tantric practicing Buddhists, and Hindus, and certain branches of Wicca, along with particular Eastern Orthodox sects sexual ecstasy weaves together with spiritual ecstasy quite well.
It is thought that at the dawn of history, in the worship of the Great Mother, sexual feelings were considered her sacred, inspiring gift to humans and were, therefore, spiritual and sacred. This made rape and many other less than healthy forms of sexual behavior greatly chastised and to be avoided or one might be cursed by the Great Mother and have to live a life of sexless agony.
So with these thoughts in mind, might you live in a way that integrates your love, your sexuality and your spirituality?
What To DoPerhaps you would like to worshipfully pray or meditate on these matters. A lively discussion with others may be a desirable possibility. Reading about love and spirituality can be an option. Taking classes, going to workshops and seminars, and diligently studying the issues involved might be a way of productively dealing with all this. Deciding to approach all love relationships with a certain amount of spirituality may yield good results. Letting all this germinate in your subconscious and waiting to see what may unfold or emerge is another good possibility. What do you suppose will be your way?
As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J Richard Cookerly
♥ Love Success Question
Is healthy self-love a spiritual practice and if you see it as such how will you practice it?