Qualities of Conscious Love

Posted on in On Our Radar by Ram Dass


The first kind of love we are familiar with is the biochemical love, “Let’s make love.” The second kind is romantic love, “Mary loves John and John loves Mary.” This second kind of love, the romantic love and the need for love, has a polarity, which is hate and which involves jealousy and possessiveness. This kind of love is based on the fact that you don’t yet know who you are. So you say, “He and I are in love” or “She and I are in love,” meaning we connect each other to the place in ourselves where we are love. This is needful love, because you need your connection, and if he or she splits, you can’t find the place in you where you are love. So you get frightened that you’re going to lose your connection.

The third level of love is conscious love, where you have found that place in yourself, and you become it. And you are
a statement of that love. And your every action is not consciously designed to assert that you love everyone, and everyone loves you, because you are love.

Prayer, sitting with a picture of a holy being, singing to the Beloved—all of these are devotional meditative practices, the way of the heart. Devotion balances the more impersonal wisdom that comes from most kinds of meditation. It allows us to cultivate our humanity while we transform our consciousness. This outflowing of the heart toward the object of our devotion facilitates most other methods as well, through the flow of loving energy.

As an example, imagine a being standing before you, someone to whom you feel particularly attuned to, such as Abraham, Christ, Mary, or Hanuman. This being is radiant, luminous, a being whose eyes are filled with compassion, a being in whom you feel the wisdom that comes from an intimate harmony with the universe.

Despite all of the impurities to which you cling, despite all your feelings of unworthiness, such a being loves you unconditionally. To sit before such a being, or to imagine such a being sitting in your heart, to be with that being and return the love, to see yourself reflected in such compassion, such nonjudgmental eyes, to open more and more as if to a beloved, to carry on imaginary conversations with such a being, opens you to compassion, tranquility, warmth, patience—to all the qualities of a free being.

This interpersonal quality of devotional meditation allows you to start from your psychological needs to love, to be loved, to be in the presence of wisdom, compassion, and peace. When you are with a being that embodies these qualities, they rub off, and you feel more evolved, even to the point of recognizing the radiant light within yourself. This acknowledgment of your own beauty allows you to open even more to the beloved, until finally the lover and the beloved merge, and you find out that what you had seen outwardly as perfection is a mirror of your own true being.

man and child

There are lower and higher stages of devotion. In the lower you romanticize the journey. You merely shift the focus of your melodrama from marketplace to temple. The images in the temple, the temple itself, your participation in worship, the love, say, of Christ, of Krishna, of Buddha, become preoccupations. You want to think about, talk to, play with, and open your heart to them. This level is romantic; you have fallen in love with your vehicle for going to God. But your love grows, and your beloved becomes the whole object of your life, you tune to a deeper place within yourself. Then the emotional, romantic qualities of devotion give way to a new kind of love where finally you see all people as the beloved.

There’s no neurosis or need in that. For you to become that, you have to give up the stuff inside of you that keeps you from being it. And the major thing is your self-unworthiness. Most of your personality was built upon your unworthiness. Just let it go. Every time something comes up that makes you feel unworthy, or where you assert your unworthiness, “Here, Ma, you eat it. I don’t want it.” Give it up. Give it up to your guru; give it up to your guide, “Whoever you are, Guru, take it.”

Try to be right here, open, honest, straight, take everything that happens to you and use it in relation to your awakening to God, right here. And when you walk out into the night, take in the feelings inside your body—the lights, the walking on the cement, whatever is around you, take it all in, in love. Don’t worship the feelings and don’t run from them. Acknowledge them, allow them; they are all a part of the dance with God. Just play with God, but play in such a way that you get home; don’t play in such a way that you get lost.

Then there is no more need for anyone to love you. All you experience is a feeling of present flow with everyone in the universe. You are in love with the universe. You are not actively loving, but you are “in” love; you exist in the space of conscious love, which is Christ love. That’s what this whole game is about.

Ram Dass has made his mark on the world by teaching the path of the heart and promoting service in social consciousness and care for the dying. In India in 1967, he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, affectionately known as Maharajji, who gave Ram Dass his name, which means “servant of God.” Ram Dass now makes his home in Maui and spreads teachings through RamDass.org and the Love Serve Remember Foundation.

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