Perhaps reading the title of this newsletter you think, “I knew it, Geoffrey is just an old hippy”. Perhaps he’s writing this with flowers in his hair or “What is he smoking?” For those reasons it is something that I have not written or spoken much about. But wherever I start from, my experience is: Love is our natural state.
Love is powerful; it is healing. It is a vital nutrient for the individual and for human society.
Our evolutionary mission is simple: survive and procreate. Evolution has made sure that fear is the most primal emotion. Our attention is biased toward the negative, threats and danger.
Fear sells! Advertising and news-people know that. For this reason we are bombarded by news and information designed to scare us and the focus is usually on those moments when love, compassion and kindness are scarce. Hate, envy, greed, cruelty, aggression – they all get our attention. However, I am convinced that in any given day individual acts of kindness of compassion far outweigh acts of hatred and cruelty. Unfortunately, good news does not sell as well as bad news.
Added to all that, our experience of love tends to be a limited version of it: Mother for child; children for parents; for our family and close friends. Our love rarely extends beyond family and close friends and is usually conditional. “I will love you if you will love me”, “I will love you but only if you behave in a certain way”. There is no doubt that even this kind of conditional love can also get out the best in us: great kindness and compassion. However, these very conditions lay the foundation for suffering. So I think that it would be a good idea for me to define what I am talking about when I write here about love.
The Love I am talking about is best described by the Buddhist term “Metta”. Metta arises out of generosity; it is kindness and caring, to desire the very best for all beings. It is altruistic in the sense that metta does not look for anything in return, advantage or exchange. Metta is never harmful as it arises out of our true “Buddha” nature, a purity of heart, a place of love.
This is difficult to see as we spend most of our lives distracted by our thoughts, feelings, ideas, as if that is all we are. If you reflect on those moments in which you have spoken or acted with the intention to hurt someone, then you will understand that those actions always come out of your own pain or suffering. This can only happen when we confuse who we are with our thoughts and feelings. Contrast this with when you are at peace, your heart calm, your mind with few or no thoughts. This can occur when we find ourselves in a beautiful place in nature, a stunning view for example, or during meditation. In this moment thoughts stop and ego disappears and with it any suffering. In this moment all that we wish for any creature is peace, health and happiness; in other words, when we stop confusing ourselves with our thoughts and feelings and we realise that we are not the clouds but the infinite blue sky.