Two weeks ago, on Valentine’s Day, I had a chance to do a church service with my old friend Gregg Anderson. Gregg is the chaplain at the Aspen Chapel, and several times a year I join him in a dialogue on a theme, and weave it together with music. Since it was a holiday to celebrate love, we took my song “Heart of Love” as the theme, and set out on the exploration to see what we could find out about the heart of love.
I won’t begin to attempt to define love, but I spent some time thinking, feeling and meditating on what I know about love. Gregg said he believes it is part of the logos of life, essential to the fabric of creation, and that it exists, with or without us…in essence, love is God. I came back to Bucky Fuller’s saying that “love is metaphysical gravity”, that which holds us together. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his great speech “Beyond Vietnam” (which he delivered on April 4, 1967, one year to the day before he was killed), talked about love as “not some sentimental and weak response, but the force which all the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life—the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality.” King knew that love is the essence of non-violence and peace, and that it is absolutely necessary for the survival of humankind.
Thich Nhat Hanh writes about love from the Buddhist perspective, and talks about the “Four Immeasurable Minds” which are the components of true love: Love—the intention and capacity to offer joy and happiness, with deep listening and understanding; Compassion—deep communication and awareness of suffering; Joy—dwelling happily in the present moment; and Equanimity—non-attachment, non-discrimination, even-mindedness, letting go. True love needs all four.
For me, I discovered that I am as happy loving as I am being loved. It struck me that love is very much like breathing. Just as neither inhaling nor exhaling can exist alone as the “true breath”, I don’t feel that loving or being loved can be isolated as “true love.” Love is active, and it generates more of itself. In-breath leads to out-breath leads to in-breath, loving leads to being loved leads to loving…giving, receiving, love thy neighbor as thyself… Eckhart Tolle said, “Love is the recognition of oneness in a world of duality.”
How do I know love? For me it is feeling connected to life, to that which is around me…feeling bigger than my small self. Being centered, being present, being open and permeable, and doing what I can to serve life. I feel it in my heart, physically. When I need more love in my life, I can start loving, and voila! There is love in my life! Maybe it’s always there, it’s just my awareness that slips away. I wrote a song once called “Love is Its Own Reward”…now all I have to do is remember I can start the process of being in love.
And maybe everything we’ve ever done we did for love…