I was chatting with a friend about the differences between transformative love and romantic love. Both of us have had the experience of each.
I personally was having difficulty putting the matter into words. Romantic love seems to occur on a spectrum that ranges from uplifting at the top to perfunctory at the bottom.
When we’re being perfunctory with each other, what we think of as love carries no real charge. Sometimes saying “I love you” becomes an obligation. We say it almost to reassure our partner. It isn’t really love we’re expressing. It’s almost like a placeholder.
I recall a joke the trainer made in the est Six Day Course many years ago. He imitated our dialogue as follows: “You never tell me that you love me.” “I love you.” “You’re only saying that because I criticized you.” (1) For many of us, love gets caught up in the games we play in the face of the false grids of separation, survival and scarcity.
We consider ourselves separate and in need of love. We think we need love to survive but we seek it from without, rather than from within. We think of love as a scarce commodity that has to be rationed.
One minute of transformative love shows us that all these ideas are not simply inadequate; they have no relationship at all to the reality that transformative love is.
I’m not criticizing the way we are. Life in the body is hard, with needs, afflictions, and unwanted conditions that keep us feeling loaded down. The past several decades have seen a global elite try to corner the wealth of the world leaving many people in dead-end jobs (if they have one), at flat wages, with no future to speak of. These and other conditions make it difficult to feel the ecstacy of transformative love.
On occasion we break through to a peak experience. But even these breakthroughs usually don’t survive the hard-scrabble lives that many of us have had to lead to get by. When a sudden burst of romantic love fills us up, we spend a few moments being restored and alive and then the walls of our narrow lives close back upon us.
But, as wonderful as these romantic moments are, transformative love falls into an entirely different category of experience.
I’ve mentioned that there was a time in my life when one spiritual experience followed another – so many that I had to give them names to keep them all straight – the Silver Bullet, the Flame in the Heart, the Ring of Fire, etc.
Each of these moments was accompanied by a brief experience of transformative love. And each repaid years of spiritual practice.
But the most dramatic episode, and the one that burned itself into my memory, was one I’ve discussed before on the blog: a transformational experience that happened at a Communication Workshop, associated with the est Training. (2)
On that occasion, I burned with love. It flowed out from me in all directions like a firestorm. I beamed at people and had infinite energy. I experienced the incredible lightness of being.
I was not the same person I was in normal life. I’ll never know how that experience might have tapered off into normal consciousness because I was shocked into letting go of it. My girlfriend at the time shouted at me to “Stop that this minute!” as soon as I walked through the door and I swallowed my original face.
Werner Erhard used to say that the world was hostile to transformation. We don’t believe what’s happening when we look in the face of a transformed person. We worry we’ll be conned, get involved with a cult, etc. All of that is passing now but it was much more that way back in the 1970s.
While my Com Workshop experience lasted, it was a sublime and life-altering experience. Bliss transports one seemingly upward. But burning love such as this is a very social, connecting experience.
In fact, in my experience, transformative love seems to need to be shared. I can’t say what would happen if it was not shared, but I can say that I burned to share that love with as many people as were open to receive it.
And sharing that love with many people presented no problem. My personality was forgotten. All inhibitions dropped away and I stood there like a beacon illuminating the dark night. It was a night to remember. (3)
Why do I share this experience? Because, when the tsunami of love hits, if we experience transformative love, there could be some people who wonder what has just caught hold of them. What in the world happened? What has changed? Where am I?
You’re in love. But such love!
You read Andrew Martin’s account today of what happened to him in November 2013. (4) I just received yesterday an account in my email of a person’s Ascension. So many people are feeling concrete effects of the rising energies.
It could be that that same experience is shared by many, many people in a few days or weeks time. In a few months time, when Ascension arrives, it will be felt by large numbers of people.
And, if it is, well, be prepared to jettison every idea of yourself you ever had and to feel as if you’ve been reborn. Because you will be. Transformative love is, I think, a total rebirth for as long as it occurs. And we have the assurance that, after the “shift of ages,” it will indeed be our permanent everyday experience.
(1) est 6-Day Trainer Ron Bynum, 17 Nov. 1980.
(2) “Reducing the Stress of Being in Different Places” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/spiritual-essays/emergence-2/reducing-the-stress-of-being-in-different-places/.
(3) Even if it ended as badly as it did for the Titanic.
(4) “Andrew Martin: Channel, Changed,” Jan. 29, 2013, at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2014/01/andrew-martin-channel-changed/.