We may be longing for love but afraid of love, afraid of being seen to be flawed, unworthy, unlovable; we may fiercely guard our separation. What is frightened is a false self. We fear being seen as we see ourselves: limited, unworthy, imperfect. But true seeing is identical with loving. The love you are sees its own radiance in you and in the apparent other. To truly see is to love. When we open our heart to anything — a flower, a person, the sky, grief — we feel alive, touched, tender, and often vulnerable. We may feel we have been hurt in love, but love itself is eternal; it cannot be harmed; it cannot be destroyed. In love, there is no “other,” only the appearance of another. Understand that longing for love is a divine longing. We are searching for our deepest Self without knowing it.
Contrary to the lyrics of many love songs or the lyrics of our life story, real love has no beginning and no end. It arises spontaneously in freedom. It is indiscriminate and, like the sun, “shines on the just and the unjust.” It gives itself to the moment without asking for anything in return. It is unselfconscious. Love’s sensitivity to life excludes nothing and no one. It has no opposite called “hate.” This is a love that knows no division. It touches life as it is. It is undivided.
Consider what it is to be love rather than to seek it. Consider doing the small things in your daily life lovingly instead of grudgingly. Love’s gifts are endless; your life is one of those gifts. Love’s greatest gift is itself. It has a wisdom that moves with no one to figure it out. It does not see an “other.” In the deepest love, there simply are not “two.” And yet love pretends to be two in order to dance. The dance includes both joy and suffering.
Suffering is often the very thing that breaks us open. When we are suffering, we are seeking a way out of suffering. When our habitual ways of dealing with inner turmoil no longer work, we may find that our suffering has surrendered us into the arms of a bigger truth, a deeper wisdom, a greater love. Our heart may open, not because we even wished for such a thing, but because it may feel broken, shattered, betrayed, raw, and exceedingly vulnerable. Love may be trying to lay claim on us through our broken heart. And perhaps we will one day be wise enough to let the heart remain open rather than defended, angry, or closed.
Every day, sometimes moment by moment, we refuse love — refuse to give it or receive it. When we withhold it from ourselves, failing to let love touch our own pain, our own suffering, we may also refuse to see suffering in another. Ram Dass and Paul Gorman wrote insightfully in How Can I Help? about the fear some of us have of the compassion in our own hearts. We are afraid to see suffering in the world because we might be moved by the compassion we would feel, and then what might happen? Would we then have homeless people sleeping in our living room? Love seems difficult to touch in the presence of fear, and yet love accepts all, even our fear. In love itself, there is no fear, for there is no separation, no estrangement from our self, no separation from the moment as it appears.
However we view suffering, we might say that love is the answer or at least the response. But what is loving in any given situation? The ego mind often thinks love would be having exactly what it thinks it wants at any given time. But love is not always about getting what we want, as any mother knows who has yanked back her child from running in the street, only to have to comfort him in the midst of tears and fears. Love is not always about comfort, either. There is a greater love than comfort. Rumi points to the paradox in his poem “The Question”: Walking into the “fire” or into the lovely “stream,” we do not know who is blessed and who is not. And yet we may, often in retrospect only, realize that what we imagined was one thing — the blessing or the curse — has shown itself to be the reverse.
Excerpted from ENDING THE SEARCH, by Dorothy Hunt. Sounds True, March 2018. Reprinted with permission.
You can hear an interview with Dorothy here.
Dorothy Hunt serves as spiritual director of Moon Mountain Sangha, teaching in the spiritual lineage of Adyashanti, who invited her to share the Dharma in 2004. She is the founder of the San Francisco Center for Meditation and Psychotherapy and has practiced psychotherapy since 1967. Her published works include Only This! and Leaves from Moon Mountain.
Ending the Search unravels a dilemma that has vexed countless people on a spiritual path. Dorothy writes, “You may have tried all manner of practices, meditation, guru shopping, chanting, prayer, and still you have not attained your heart’s desire. This book is about the ego’s spiritual ambition, its search for its idea of ‘enlightenment,’ its struggles and its eventual fate as seeker becomes the sought.”