On the lower psychological level there are illusions of love that are not actually love but various forms of selfishness and desire.
On the higher psychological and spiritual levels love is the opposite of Illusion. It is the fundamental reality of higher consciousness. Love is the energy of the Soul.
The heart center, adapted from The Chakras by C. W. Leadbeater.
“Love is the tuning fork of life. It gives the keynote to harmony in every situation.” Charles Newcomb
“Love is not dependency, idolization, sentimentality, craving, or physical attraction…” Vernon Howard
Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person; it is an attitude, an orientation of character which determines the relatedness of a person to the world as a whole, not toward one ‘object’ of love…Because one does not see that love is an activity, a power of the soul, one believes that all that is necessary is to find is the right object. Erich Fromm
“…the particular loved one is really only a window through which that Immortal Beloved is glimpsed…Love is therefore in its essential nature and in the last analysis, the worship of the divine through the human.” Old Lamps For New, C. Bragdon
Love is not a companion come to dwell with thee in thy narrow house of personal separateness; he is a messenger come to lead thee from that narrow prison out into the wide, free places of the earth, and if thou wilt not be led by him, then will he go on and leave thee, as a messenger who may not tarry. Helen Bourchier
“Love is not making the object of the love feel comfortable superficially. Love is far-seeing wisdom which seeks to keep alive in the object of that love those sensitivities which will guarantee safe progress.” Alice Bailey
“ Love is not soft and sentimental but fiery and wise.” Anonymous
“Love is not blind; it is an extra eye, which shows us what is most worthy of regard.”
“Life is eternal and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon… and a horizon is nothing, save the limit of our sight.” Carly Simon
“The true way to love is to reflect and meditate deeply and constantly upon the significance and meaning of love, its origin, its expression through the soul, its qualities, goals and objectives.” Alice Bailey
“He who sees without loving is only straining his eyes in the darkness.” Maeterlinck
“Love is a miraculous baptism of consciousness, a luminous aspect of awareness and unshadowed understanding.” Wesley La Violette
Behind the orient darkness of thine eyes,
The eyes of God interrogate my soul
With whelming love.
The luminous waves that roll
Over thy body are His dream.
It lies On thee as the moon-glamour on the skies;
And all around — the yearning aureole
Of His effulgent being — broods the whole Rapt universe, that our love magnifies.”
O thou, through whom for me Infinity Is manifest!
Bitter and salt, thy tears
Are the heart-water of the passionate spheres,
With all their pain.
I drink them thirstily!
While in thy smile is realized for me
The flaming joys of archangelic years.
The Book of Love, By Elsa Barker
I don’t think in terms of a practice of that. In a deeper sense, compassion or love is a unitary entity and when we really love it radiates out to all naturally and without ego effort includes a right sense of self, or self-esteem—this latter is not the same as “self love.” See my blog post for further development of this:.
Love is undermined by self-hate, but self-love is not the same as self-esteem and it is a mistake, I think, to emotionalize about loving oneself or to focus on that. See the exposition of the issue here:
There is actually some research on this theme:, and it concludes with:
“Does loving oneself lead to loving others? The answer is not the simple “ yes ” often noted in popular discourse. In fact, the opposite is often the case. Self-love as operationalized as narcissism is linked to game playing and selfishness in romantic relationships.Narcissists look to relationships as a source of power or control — not as an arena for experiencing and expressing commitment.Narcissism does not lead to loving others in any interpersonally positive sense of the contrast, the implications of self-esteem for loving others are generally positive but are still mixed. High self-esteem individuals may be resistant to negative experiences of love sickness. How-ever, they may also miss the highs associated with manic love.These individuals also report greater passionate sum, the ego can be as much of a hindrance to romantic relationships as it can be a help. Individuals looking to experience love may be best served by turning out toward the other rather than turning in toward the self.”
Movie Clips Love Montage: “Who are You?”
The paradox, the yes and no of things is pervasive. It’s not just the transcendent that is intellectually elusive. The child asks, “What is a flower?” How can we answer? How deeply do I know what a flower is? Yet we try to answer.
What is a personality; what is the definition and the limit? We say it is vehicle, that it is a mask, that it’s on the surface of things. Then we say all is one, so the soul and personality are one. But there is time we say, and Saturn’s rule is the root of this separation. Yet we sense that time is an illusion, and for those who love, “time is not.” We find no clear dividing line between spirit and matter, between personality and soul, no place where personality ends and soul begins.
The mask we call personality is deceptive. If the mask speaks of the mask, how could it be other than deceptive? Yet, to the degree that it is integrated with soul, the mask is no longer deceptive. There is no mask in honesty, in wholeness, in unity—and unity is the essence of all. Yet, the most transcendent unified light still uses a form. And if a human form and human symbols are used, a degree of imperfection lingers, an element of deception.
Where then is personality, and where soul? Among actual humans, I do not know if I’ve ever met a personality. I’ve seen faces in degrees of radiance and faces transmuting pain. But in all this alchemy, no personalities like the mental construct. Today, I suggest there is no category of personality rapport and or soul rapport. It may be convenient to speak of them, but they are not what is before our eyes. The existence of personality is factual, but it is not true. Before our eye is an exquisite play of light and shade, a world of gradations in flowing colors and shapes. The persona and its provincial and cosmic matrix are worlds of dancing lights, bits of energy with star-like distance between the points of illusion. The soul is the indefinable light that holds these stars in place and feeds their life.
The shine of personality is attractive. But it is somewhat like a moon, shinning with borrowed light. Its real beauty is not in the form at all, but in the soul shinning through. Personality is love in disguise. Virtually everyone I meet in the normal course of life looks well attired to me. They do not speak the language of personality only, they speak also the language of the soul. They do not always know they speak it, even when they do it very well. We hear the voice behind the voice. They cannot hide it; it is the nature of things. I see where the gleam in the eye comes from, even though they have forgotten to explicitly mention it.
Being frequently submerged in the chaos of our lower emotional natures means we fall continually into an unhappy half-life of existence. Our semi-conscious thinking makes us subject to the surrounding chaos of life, and our semi-conscious love also deprives us of a happy outcome. So develops the path of our slow education through pain. This way stands in stark contrast to a path of actual love and wisdom. And even when we manage to get our head above water, in this age of intensified communication, we are easily pulled down again into the crush of world chaos.
How shall we endure the painful chaos of the world? The pains may spark inspiration and define the direction for our creative forces, but our work is with harmony. Essential optimism derives from attention to the spiritual depth, while pessimism or realism forces itself upon us in our attention to the chaos on the surface. Realism is educationally useful, but our main life focus is with optimism because thought creates. Education is good, and the work allotted to us defines the scope of it, but it would be debilitating to dwell indiscriminately on the horrors of the human scene.
Self-centered metaphysics is a contradiction in terms. It’s a curious and often unnoticed fact that most schools and teachings termed metaphysical, place the major emphasis on more or less mundane egocentric concerns: awaken your psychic powers, get money, exercise influence, find love and romance, achieve personal enlightenment easily and quickly, and so on. There is a wide spectrum of desire-appeal in these that ranges from the “metaphysics” of winning a lottery to subtler goals like general self-improvement and gaining knowledge.
Given the current nature of humans, such motivations and appeals are to be expected. But they are not about metaphysics but “physics,” that is, the physics of bodies and their desires. In the normal course of life, we do need metaphysics to awaken personal powers, get money, exercise influence, and find love. With the exception of the last—and depending on what level of “love” we mean—these normal human goals are achievable without the confusion of redefining them as a spiritual path. But in a curious way, selfish appeals and methods get wrapped up in various “spiritual” and “supernormal” packaging. The seduction of that is that we can go on living an ordinary life while while entertaining the ego satisfying illusion that we are on a special spiritual path.
Goals like self-improvement, gaining knowledge, or getting clear of personality limitations can began to shade up toward something spiritual since they can support a healthy and more integrated personality. And we need some measure of progressive normalcy before we can expect safe progress toward spiritual or supernormal. Our practical pursuits are useful training and develop faculties in us that are a fitting prelude to spiritual progress, and moving toward the future our earthly abilities lend themselves to use on higher turns of the spiral of life. But, as often happens, more or less egocentric concerns saturates the beginning, the middle, and the end of pseudo-metaphysical teachings.
We search for happiness, and real happiness is spiritual sunlight. When approaching the spiritual, any desire emphasizing our egocentric concerns dims the light, and acts as a barrier separating us from the goal. We achieve happiness not by grabbing for it, but as a byproduct of love, a radiant sun-like disposition and motivation. For spiritual things, we achieve is by radiance. But the ego in us is not radiant, not giving. It is like a grasping hand, whereas the higher symbol is an open hand. Spiritual receptivity is like this open hand held out to the sun. If we try to grab the light, our hand closes on darkness.
We do not want to confuse superficial emotions or sentiments with love and wisdom. Based on various emotions and sentiments we can act foolishly, but actual love is never foolish. Love can powerfully affect the emotions, but it is not an emotion—it is the transcendent light and power behind our best decisions. What I mean here by “love” is love-wisdom, a spiritual energy at the heart of everything. This heart is not sentimental, but fiery and wise.
It may satisfy our sentiments to always act sweetly, in ways that make our loved ones and us comfortable, or in ways that accede to someone’s desires. But this may or may not correspond to love and wisdom. A decision based on sentiment, or imagined love, may just as likely bring eventual harm as help. For instance, although pseudo-love or sentiment may move us to give everything asked for, regardless of long-term effects, wisdom knows better. And wisdom knows when to be disagreeable, and when to use a “yes” or “no.” In love and wisdom we find a far-seeing vision that senses the right type and measure of giving.
If we look carefully we may discover that what we sometimes call “love” is not love at all. Instead, we have a desire for love and a desire to love. And we are willing to do all kinds of things to get others to see us as desirable and attractive. We love the image and the ideal of love, even when we are not quite sure what it all means. But this psychology is human rather than transcendental and is based on desire and sentiment rooted in self-interest. If we are honest with ourselves, we may discover that much of what we called “love” is really our self-interested desires in disguise.
We see a good example of how emotion can work if we consider the semantics of a “broken heart.” What breaks is not love or the heart, but our persistent and intense desire. We want what we cannot have and cling to desire in the face of frustration until it ruins our emotional life. But such pain is at a self-centered emotional level and not the level of the soul or love. Our so-called broken heart is caused by our desire. Love is the cure and not the cause of a broken heart, and when we really love, and love more truly and broadly, our broken heart is healed.
It’s often been suggested that we should “love our self.” What does this mean? If by “love your self” is meant “self-respect” or “self-esteem,” then it sounds healthy. And if we’ve been filled with self-hatred it may seem reasonable to try escape by replacing self-hate with self-love. But in this we may find ourselves on the horns of a dualistic dilemma, a tricky reasoning where the mantra “love yourself” may become a philosophical justification for selfishness and egotism that is contrary to love.
What of “self-esteem?” Implicit in this psychology-word are aspects of ego or self. But mystic experience affirms there is only one real Self–so what is this part of self that holds esteem for another part? What is the division? What’s happening when we say we have self-esteem or that we feel good about ourselves? Perhaps when what we are doing at a behavioral level–physical, emotional, and mental–is more or less aligned with soul, then we receive an inner validation, a sense of harmony, a right creative tension. In this sense, self-esteem may be a reflect growth toward integration and self-awareness.
Yet consider the paradox. The thought of loving ourselves seems to imply there is one thing called “self” and another separate thing called “love,” and that we can direct one toward the other. By this thought it seems we cut ourselves in half, and in trying hard to “love our self” we might very well fail to rise above our current egotistic concerns—those very concerns which, when we are obsessed with them, shut out the light of love.
Perhaps the thought of loving our self may be born of a natural and understandable desire for self-improvement, or a desire to compensate for self-hate, or to feel better about ourselves. These are normal human tendencies, yet all are personal desires and not love, that is, they are acquisitive and not radiant. They may give some improvement or relief, but not transformation. Love is transformative, radiant, and unitary, leading us beyond the normal toward the supernormal.
Love doesn’t divide–it unites. I’m thinking that, to the degree that real love is present in consciousness, we don’t experience a division between “self” on the one hand and “love” on the other. In love there is simply one central shining reality, one positive consciousness, the consciousness of love. In that unified state we are in love, of love, and we are love. And when filled with love, we no longer need to prop ourselves up by an effort at self-love. Simply to love is enough. In the mystic sense, we need not think about loving our self. We need only think about the nature of love, it’s goals, and purposes and how to manifest these in our lives and in the world. We need only think of how we may most wisely express this energy, the light of our essential nature. The affirmation of the heart is not “I love myself,” but “I am love.” This identification is powerful that opens the gates. It is enough to recognize that we are the power. It is enough to simply be what we are.
In its unifying systems, the body is a mirror of evolutionary cosmic principles. The heart, through the blood, is pervasive and the brain also unifies through a pervasive system of nerves. The heart center unifies, but the brain is also the apex of the nervous system, a unitary matrix through which our consciousness functions on the physical level. And like the heart, it is an apt symbol of the underlying matrix of everything.
The heart and breath are mysterious, but the brain even more so. People relate to the “heart” as the central essence or soul of a thing, and to breathe means literally to “inspire.” But spiritual terms correspondent with the brain have not yet found a widely understood anchor in our consciousness. Eastern thought identifies a “thousand pelted lotus” in the head, but the phrase is more esoteric and the corresponding energy harder to fathom. The apex of unity in the head is more difficult to comprehend. This may reflect the fact that most of us function more fully and easily as emotional entitles than we do as mental ones. So it’s easier for us to begin to grasp the spiritual correspondence to “heart,” and more of a stretch to take in the spiritual correspondence to “head.” Awakening of the heart brings spiritual vision, and awakening of the head also brings vision and revelation. The symbolic importance of the head is clear in that it incorporates organs of both sight and hearing.
Life takes on new meaning and dimension by the virtues of both heart and head. Our rational mind looks down or out into the world of sights and sounds. But the mind can also look up or in, so vibrating to the colors and music of the underlying matrix of things. The rational mind interfaces with the world, but the “minds eye,” facing toward spirit, mirrors transcendent reality. Our outward looking mind is useful, but what we can see with the minds eye is essential and commanding. We may picture the upward looking mind as a lens through which passes higher light and music. So this would be revelation not only of the landscape of unity, but of worlds of light and sound.
Something above phantasmal self shines continually. We try to find it in acquisitions. We humor each other with names attached to faces and voices, and play games of getting, but all unconsciously, and for a purpose hidden, then slowly revealed.
And finally, to approach acquisition and faculty by way of love–that I think, is key. The Sun, symbol of self, is our archetype. The physical sun serves us well, and the spiritual sun serves well. We also must serve well, which is the value of getting. Acquisition, personal growth, aspiration, seem to me to be preparatory schools that find they’re meaning in service of light. Our light-seeking moves toward discovered radiance in which is our happiness. And as sun cannot help but give itself in radiance, so also our inner nature. We are more light sphere than anything, and with but a thin veil between brain and our fiery core.
We begin to be when we love, because love is the nature of our deeper being. Love is the central part of “I” and inherent in self realization. To the degree that we truly love, we discover who we are. To the degree that we love, we become who we are. So, in love there is always the deep sense of finding ourselves, for to love truly is to realize we are love. Love is not separate from what we are but integral to the innermost nature of our consciousness. It is the essential spiritual power and an ever present potential of our being, of our real self. It is the energy and life that we are, therefore, to know who we are is to realize: “I am love.”
To be without love is to be without spirit. Heartlessness and selfishness conspire with a materialism that measures human life by time and limitation. But love is resonant with the sense of the timeless spiritual—it is the extrasensory eye that views the hidden life and special being of life beyond time.
Naturally, the realization of timeless love has profound effects on how we experience and relate to others. The famous researcher in extra-sensory perception, Dr. J. B. Rhine, wrote:
“Our treatment of people obviously depends on what we think they are. The more we think of our fellowmen as deterministic physical systems, robots, machines, brains–the more heartlessly and selfishly we can allow ourselves to deal with them… On the other hand, the more we appreciate their mental life as unique… more original and creative than mere space-time mass relations of matter, the more we are interested in them as individuals and the more we tend to respect them and consider their viewpoints and feelings.”
We can increase our understanding of a thing by comparing it to its opposite. The opposite of “timelessness” is “for a limited time.” What if we were to say to our partner, “I love you, but only for a limited time.” This offer may strike us as rather strange because it runs counter to a basic human intuition about love. The lover is far more apt to say with heart-felt enthusiasm, “My love for you will never die!” This pledge, when sincere, is not mere emotionalism, but has its roots in an intuitive sense of the spirit of love.
People may pledge, “love forever” today and change their mind tomorrow. But this does not alter the basic truth of the timeless quality of love. If the love was real in the first place, it simply means lost of contact with essential nature of it. Love continues to shine in the depths of our consciousness, even when we turn our backs on it and forget what we saw and what we are.
We loose touch with the spirit of love the minute we give it limits. We may hold back and say, “I will love you until I die,” the “til death do us part” of the conventional ceremony. But this limited pledge admits that our love is basically materialistic and centered mainly, if not completely, on the physical body and surface personality. It would be strange to hear lovers say, “We will love each other, but only until one of us (or both us) dies.” A deep sense of love isn’t compatible with such thoughts, because love brings with it the intuition about “forever.” It has a timeless quality that is part of the immediate experience of loving.
“Still seems it strange, that thou shouldst live forever?
Is it less strange, that thou shouldst live at all?
This is a miracle; and that no more.”
Art by FracFX
At first glance, it may seem that love is uncertain and ephemeral, and that relations born from it do not last. But it is not love that is ephemeral, but the form of it under particular limitations of karma. True love exists in consciousness; is essentially spiritual and above circumstance. It is a faculty of the soul, and in fact the very nature of the deep self. Its binding power, its ability to harmoniously unite persons in a given instance may fail. But love as soul power remains, even where the limitations of persons thwart it. Behind the uncertainty of persons, behind the complex weaving of karma, the certain of love as the power of consciousness, shines continually.
The soul is immortal and its future is without limit. That is why real love brings with it a true intuition of the infinite. People pledge their love forever. Lovers, songwriters, and poets of each generation repeat similar lyrics. “I will love you till the end of time,” they say, “My love will never die.” The experience of love is instinctively linked to the feeling of “forever,” to a sense of moving beyond time. People speak of “immortal love.” The reason is clear–the consciousness of love gives the true sense of being without limits. If we look at the experience of love, we discover a most amazing thing–lovers pledge their love forever because a sense of “forever” is revealed by love. It is the nature of the soul. The writer Nathaniel Hawthorn put this clearly:
“We are but shadows: we are not endowed with real life, and all that seems most real about us is but the thinnest substance of a dream–till the heart be touched. That touch creates us–then we begin to be–thereby we are inheritors of eternity.”
Art by Cornelia Knopp
We would like perpetual renewal of life and vitality. We would like to feel that dawn is coming with a rush of new benevolent energy. We would like to be in spirit like the best morning of our life, to find in the light of new day the best actions and words.
About words, today, I reiterate a bit of transpersonal semantics conducive to renewal: a word is, or might be, sacred. I do not fancy myself religious in any conventional sense, but there is a good idea in the religious of the world, that of “sacred word.” I do not say it is in bibles or churches. But it might be in you. And if we were to meet, I would listen for it. You might not even know you spoke it, but I fancy that I would hear and know.
A mystical dream experience
A narrative on a moment of inspiration related to illumination and revelation. A reflection about the contrast between the ideal, the vision, and current limitations. A meditation on the nature of words, meaning, and guidance.
I’ve never been a great lover of forms, that is most made by man’s mind. Not religions, philosophies, and psychologies, nor even much that passes as arts and sciences. There is a hidden meaning in all of them, and this I love. Yet the ways these take through human agencies and arts often fails to resonate. There are, thankfully, beautiful exceptions yet excellent things remain rare.
The forms of nature are different–these I love. A crystal, a rainbow, faces, skies and clouds, or scintillating dance of light on water–these argue well in speaking direct to the soul.
That said, if I am with a religionist I may find something there to love. If with a philosopher, I may find some light behind. Often though I find in voice or eye some gleam or note that reads better than philosophy or religion. Perhaps it is that we are in essence better than our playthings.
Human imagination paints light, by tradition, as a nimbus glorifying the head of saints and saviors. Yet scriptures and mystics have affirmed the omnipresence of the light of Deity. Where then to justly locate such gold? Let us paint broadly according to omnipresence. Let us assign light lavishly to myriads of heads. Best even to leave out no one, not a single head without its nimbus of gold-colored light. Let our prophecy be this, that we affirm the glories that surround us in people and in things. Assign then a nimbus to all, and even to the long stretch of faces through history and on to far horizons of future worlds.
And if we find those who have forgotten their glory, let them see at least the memory of it reflected in the clairvoyance of optimistic eyes. And for those who seem lost and faded to dark—regard them with realistic gaze, but also through the seed of future light, for it may be that patient angels–who plan for all time and all worlds–will have their way with them at last.
A fiery angel comes to live with us, in her face the memory of all we have known, in her all the fiery angels of past ages. Her hand traces the brightest patterns of life, the hidden structures of worlds and time. With her, into the earth for a time, to sleep, to dream, and finally to wake, until now we see the creative, the essence of ourselves, the soul incarnate. Near her, the face of the whole world shines with fluid light. Near her the obvious invisible flame, and in this the world of subtle pattern, the flow of deep purpose, the great mystery. We live in this flame in our true aspect, and in it are all the faces of love in all times.
They come to you, unifying, communicating, manifesting in sound. We might say they use “music” or “notes,” as that is an analog the brain understands. They play the power through each center, ringing changes through the ascending body-of-light-sound that seems “I.”
They show something of what and why you are in the deep infinite of life, and something of what they are, and something of what all life is. They radiate pure meaning that comes as chords of music.
The waves are infinite in variety and beauty; each strand of musical-meaning sparkles with countless seeds of future life, your life and all life. The essence of the future is there, and worlds of instruction live in each chord. With all perceptions altered, brightened immeasurably, you are grounded at last in reality. Your subsequent life, in so far as it is meaningful, shall be nothing but the translation into action of this music.
The sounds continue in the background of your best thoughts. In greatly muted from they weave their magic through all the days of your life—thank heavens for the muted notes, for fully sustained they would burn your body to ashes. You see now where the obscurations are, where the notes failed to penetrate. But it is only a matter of time before the gift without name redeems everything.
How to distinguish the small and the great?
Beautiful small drop of ocean is great, but small talk is not great unless love disguised. The tiny star in space, radiant light beyond our reach, is great to our eyes. Space includes all and is great. The blind eye is not great but the eye that apprehends stars in space is great, for there is love in the deep of space and in the star and in the tiny eye that sees.