Focusing on transforming behavior to be “of love,” I feel irresistibly drawn to return to the basics again, but the basics this time need to be spiritual.
I find my interest in the mundane is simply not there any longer and I have to admit that to you and let the chips fall where they may.
New desires are surfacing in me right now, under the influence of transformative love, and I’m impressed with the importance of turning from the mere processing of vasanas to straightening out my behavior, which is an obstacle to the experience of love.
Behavior patterns result from vasanas. In the face of a traumatic situation, we reach a conclusion (eg., “I’m not good enough”) and then make a decision (“What’s the use? I won’t even try any more”). These decisions bend the twig and incline the tree.
Before I begin this look at the basics, it’s necessary to restate the purpose of life, as the foundation for what follows. The purpose of life is for us to know who we truly are. (1)
I can tell you who you truly are but intellectual knowledge won’t make a whit of difference. You are God. … Feel any difference? No. It has to be up to realized knowledge to be “gotten,” anchored, etc.
Have you ever wondered why so many people never tire of the subject of who they are? Why the deeper they go into it, the better they feel? All of us have been given the task of discovering our essential nature, our true identity, who we are. And who we all are, who everything is, is God.
God is ultimate bliss and joy and our experience of them increases the “closer” we get to God, which is the same as saying the deeper we go into ourselves. First we plumb the ways of the self (the mind, the ego) and then we begin to distinguish out the ways of the Self (the Atman, the Christ).
When we realize God, God experiences God, which is why Sri Ramakrishna can say: “It is the godhead that become these two [God and the devotee] in order to enjoy Its own bliss.” (2)
I’ll walk through what are for me the basics of spiritual life as an approach to discerning how to make my behavior be “of love.”
I’d have to say that for me the basic elements of a spiritual life are three.
The first basic element is the practice of discernment. If we’re to know the truth of ourselves and fulfill the purpose of life, then we need to be able to distinguish between what’s Real and what’s not, what’s of love and what’s not.
Without being able to discern between the Real and the unreal, love and not love, we’ll never know the truth of ourselves (because we are the Real, the love).
The second basic element is the practice of detachment. We detach from that which we know is unreal. Probably you’re finding that you’re less and less interested in food, clothes, movies, etc. The tsunami of love, now in its third phase, is raising us above superficial enjoyments. We’re detaching from the unreal.
The third basic is the practice of devotion. Once detached from the unreal, the next step is to attach ourselves to the Real. That’s usually called devotion but it’s an attachment, a lifeline if you will. The attachment to God and our love for the Divine is the only attachment that does not harm us, as Sri Krishna explains:
“I am all that a man may desire
The law of his nature.” (3)
Only God can be yearned for and loved and it won’t bring karma.
Devotion to the Real, to love for God, becomes like a tow rope that’s gradually drawing us Home. The greater our yearning, our love for the Real, the more successful the result. Apparently our love for God is not something God can resist.
That’s the most generic, integrated, and direct interpretation of the basic elements of spiritual life that I think I can possibly give.
So that’s where I wish to begin. Discern between the response of love and the response not of love. Detach from that which is not of love. Attach to or devote yourself to that which is of love.
Love is Real and the only thing that is. The new path for this age, I’m certain, is the Path of Love.
(1) See “Enlightenment – Enlightenment is the purpose of life,” at http://goldengaiadb.com/E#Enlightenment_-_Enlightenment_is_the_purpose_of_life. Knowing ourselves truly can also be stated as realizing God (whom we truly are), realizing the Self, reaching God, obtaining the vision of God, illumination, seeing the light, etc.
(2) Paramahansa Ramakrishna in Swami Chetanananda. They Lived with God. St. Louis: Vedanta Society of St. Louis, 1989, 126.
(3) Sri Krishna in Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, trans., Bhagavad-Gita. The Song of God. New York and Scarborough: New American Library, 1972; c1944, 71.