What is Love?

Fire-heart Ah, love. It is a simple little word that encompasses so much that it becomes nearly impossible to pin it down with a definition. I love ice cream. I also love my cat. I love my daughter. I love orchids. I love to dance. I love my husband. I love God. (Note these are not in any particular order). Each of these feelings I just described using the same word, has very different qualities. I can tell you that the feeling I have for ice cream is very different from the feeling I have for my husband, and yet I use the same word to describe it. This is in part a fallacy of our language. Some languages have different words for love which distinguish romantic love from platonic love, from God-like unconditional love. But even these distinctions do not capture the full diversity of feeling that is expressed by what we call Love.

Love can be defined in many ways, but in the end the definitions themselves are hollow, because love is something intuitive. It is not something that the left brain can fully quantify or clearly define. It simply is. You know it when you feel it. However, if I were to attempt to define love, I would express love as any reflection of the unity behind the duality. It is a deep longing for connectedness, fueled by the soul-level recognition of oneness. It is a desire to merge from separateness back to wholeness, equally matched by the desire to remain separate in order to share the space which allows the delicious experience of loving another. Any feeling that reminds us of the connection to divine essence from which we all emerged and to where we all return, we then call ‘love.’ This can express itself in many ways, and thus we have many different varieties of love, and many different qualities to the feelings which are associated with love. Even my simple love of an orchid flower is a reflection of the unity behind the duality. Every small act of love draws one closer to their source and to oneness, for no type of love is greater or lesser, all love is from the same source. When love is expanded even to the point that one learns even to love the enemy, then love becomes truly limitless, an ocean of unity within duality. There is a Sufi saying that love is the glue which holds the universe together. That is very accurate, as without love, in our state of separateness all would drift apart, there would be nothing to hold it together. Love creates the glue, it is the divine connection which holds all things together so that even when we are in the illusion of separateness, we know through the experience of love that we are still one, connected, united being.

Namaste,

Rhea Jamil

Self-Worth and Vulnerability


“Vulnerability is the core of shame, fear and the struggle for worthiness, but it is also the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love.” -Brene Brown

It takes courage to be imperfect, to be who you are instead of what others want you to be, to allow yourself to be comfortable with uncertainty, to love yourself so deeply that you know your true worth no matter how the world treats you. But doing this is also the key to living fully and living with meaning and joy, it is the key to knowing true connection with others and with all there is.
Love and Light,
Rhea Jamil

All As Truth – Wisdom from Story Waters

Rainbow-2
Freedom is not superior to limitation;
with this realization I am able to choose freedom.

Happiness is not superior to suffering;
with this realization I am able to let go of suffering

Abundance is not superior to poverty;
with this realization my abundance flows.

Nothing is superior to anything;
with this knowing I step out from
hierarchy, competition and struggle.

In this state I do not judge life;
therefore I do not feel separate from it.

I am so glad of the diversity in the world;
in its reflection I see my own freedom
to be whatever I wish to be.

We are not here to be one;
we are here to be many.

Through seeing that beyond this illusion we are all one,
we free ourselves to be the many.

I am not tied to any singular path to be a certain way.

I am diverse.

I am ever changing.

I am an explorer of All As Truth

~Story Waters

Why?

StarsWhat is it about humans that makes us unique? Although we are very much like a more ‘intelligent’ version of our ape cousins, we also have an awareness that there is something about humans that is distinct, beyond just having bigger brains. Scientists and anthropologists have grappled with this question. Each time we think we have the answer it proves false. We used to think it was our ability to make and use tools, but then it was discovered that apes make and use tools. We thought it might be our capacity for language, but it was discovered that apes can learn language easily, showing their brains are wired for language as well. Finally, scientists found something humans do that apes do not, and it was rather surprising: Humans ask why. In an experiment conducted at the Cognitive Evolution Group Research Center, apes were given a simple task – they had to set two L shaped blocks upright, standing them on the long end, and they would get a treat. After learning this task, the scientists then gave them a trick block which was weighted on one end so that it would always fall over. The apes would then enter the experiment room, try to set the block upright in anticipation of a treat, and the block would fall over. They would try again, and again and again until they eventually gave up. When human children were given the same experiment, they would set up the weighted block and it would fall over. After a couple more tries, the children would begin to examine the block, turning it over, observing it, shaking it, hitting it, doing various things to it to try and understand why it was falling over. They were looking for evidence of the unseen force which caused the block to fall. They were trying to find the why behind it. This is something the apes do not do, it is a human trait.

This desire to understand why has driven humans to discover many things about the world and the universe, looking for the unseen force behind what we see has driven both religion and science to try and explain our existence. It has driven us to discover the science of physics, to understand gravity, to find everything from quarks to other galaxies. It is also what makes us search for some reason behind our very existence. The animal does not question its own existence, it simply is. This is a beautiful state of being and one which allows the animal to be in present moment, and we have a lot to learn from them in this way. In spite of the fact that the animal’s life may be one survival struggle after another, the animal does not question why, they simply experience what they experience in the moment – good, bad or ugly. We, on the other hand, need to know why. Why are we here? Is there some deeper reason, some unseen force which drives my existence? From this line of questioning we discover the soul, and from the soul we re-discover our connection to all things. We are a kind of consciousness which questions itself, it questions why it is conscious in the first place. What is my purpose? Is there a reason for my existence or is it just random and meaningless? Why are things this way, and not some other way?

If you find yourself on a spiritual quest, it is usually driven by these types of questions. These questions are powerful catalysts for growth. In many cases the journey of the wondering soul begins with questions that come from a place of deep pain – questions such as “Why is there suffering? Why is there death?” These were the questions which drove the Buddha, among others. This type of question comes from the child within, the joyful and playful spirit which simply wants to Be, who has been suddenly confronted with a paradox it cannot sort out and cannot ignore. This paradox is the dissonance between what the person feels and ‘knows’ from some deep intuitive place inside themselves – that the universe is a good place – and the apparent evidence before them which seems to show the opposite. Confronted with this paradox, it is human nature to ask – why?

Sometimes as the ego gradually matures it will leave the childlike innocence behind in favor of a more dour view of the world; a view where life, meaninglessness and suffering are part and parcel to one another. From this point of view, nothing has meaning. Since the pain one experiences seems to have no meaning, then by extension nothing else does either. With no meaning, all appears random, nothing seems to connect and there appears to be no God. In other words, there appears to be no ‘why’ behind one’s existence. Because thinking creates reality, things keep showing up in one’s life which further confirm this ‘truth’ that it is all meaningless and disconnected. This is the dark night of the soul, the place where connection to the whole is lost. But, as the Persian mystic and poet Rumi so eloquently says: “Many have died searching for You as You hide behind the scenes, but this pain is not for those who come as Lovers.” The lover is the one who is not in resistance, and seeks beauty. Beauty opens the heart chakra which allows unconditional love to return, and from there you return to the joy of being. The answers to the why questions then become less important than the truth of love and connection. It is true many become lost in the dark night on the journey of life, but the key is maintaining the child-like innocence, the connection to unconditional love and joy of being that we all come into the world with. The pain is not for those who come as lovers. As we resolve this paradox, as we follow beauty through the jungle of ‘why?’, the way will become clear.

Blessings on your journey,
Rhea Jamil

Non-Judgment and Self Love

nonjudgementThe Dali Lama has said “love is the absence of judgment.” Indeed, judgment can be seen as the opposite of love. Many of us have become conditioned to the idea that love comes with prerequisites; that someone else must behave in a certain manner to be deserving of our love. If we are honest with ourselves we can all admit that we find it hard to love some people, often including ourselves. The reason it is hard is because we are in judgment. Judgment is also a state of being unaware of our connection to divine source, and being in non-judgment helps us remember that source connection.

The traits we deem as ‘lovable’ vs. ‘unlovable’ are defined by our egos, and also by those extensions of our individual egos which include things like the larger society, culture, or religious dogma. These larger collective egos are very good at judging other societies, cultures or religions, even to the point of waging war with them. These collective egos, however, are reflections of the dominate individual ego. If the individual ego disappears in favor of love and non-judgment, then the behavior of society, culture and religion will begin to change as well. World peace begins with us, as individuals, choosing love instead of judgment.

Ego is the domain of the mind, and when we are in judgment, love gets caught up in the mind. In the mind love must be justified, which is what the mind is good at doing. If we can’t justify it, then we reject it as not being worthy of love. Those who fall outside of this matrix of worthiness then become the enemy, the ones we judge, and this can include ourselves. We become our own worst enemies. Often the reason we are so hard on others, the reason we find fault with others and judge them so quickly, is because we don’t love ourselves fully. The others are reflections of us, they will reflect back to us what we often don’t want to face in ourselves. When you move out of your head and into your heart, and you let go of judgment altogether, you find that love has no conditions and no boundaries. This is where you find your connection to source and to all things, this is the place of unconditional love. Unconditional love is love without judgment, love without the pre-requisite of “worthiness.”

The most important person to love unconditionally is yourself. Self love is not selfishness. Selfishness is a focus on lack, a belief that there is not enough to go around and so you must take from others to be complete; but then of course you never are complete because in selfish mode you continue to believe in lack, and thus lack will keep showing up – no matter what you take from others, it will never be enough to fill the void. This is why selfishness is a very unhappy state of being. Self love, on the other hand, is really the opposite of the state of selfishness. Self love is the state of being fulfilled in yourself. You no longer need to find fulfillment in the outer world when you truly love yourself unconditionally. Your relationships then deepen because others are “off the hook” from having to complete you, and they sense that. It makes them feel more at ease with you. Others feel free to be loving and to express themselves around you. In other words, show yourself the love that you wish you were getting from others, and you will attract others who reflect that love back to you.

Namaste,
Rhea Jamil

Forgiveness Exercizes

MeditationForgiveness looks reality in the face. Part of the resistance that many have to forgiveness is the idea that it is like pulling the wool over your eyes, that it means having to pretend that everything is OK. That is not forgiveness, that is denial. Burying your true feelings does not help you move on. Part of forgiveness is acknowledging your hurt, your anger, your pain. Acknowledge those feelings and allow them to pass through you, but don’t hold on to them either. Those feelings are like a forest fire, they move through and burn as long as there is fuel to feed them. But once the fuel is gone, so goes the fire, then new life comes up from the ashes and the forest is renewed. The purpose of the fire is to create the way for renewal, so you must allow it to move through you, but as long as you keep feeding the flames, as long as you keep giving fuel to the anger and hurt, it will continue to burn, and you rob yourself of the possibility of renewal. How do you stop feeding the fire? Forgiveness.

In many cases it may take some time to get to a place of forgiveness, and if you are not ready to forgive right now that is also OK, don’t beat yourself up about it, just allow it to be. You don’t have to forgive today if you’re not ready, but if you want to begin the path toward forgiveness I offer a series of simple exercizes to get you there.  Begin by practicing regular meditation if you are not doing so already. Meditation will help you tap into the still place within, which is where you find your essential self, the self which is aligned with unconditional love. Unconditional love and forgiveness are of the same energy.  The series of videos below provides some guidance on basic meditation and discusses how meditation can improve relationships, reduce stress and help you find inner peace.  

The second step is to begin sending unconditional love to random people, for no reason. You can do this while in meditation or while you’re out and about. Send it to people you pass on the street, send it to the clerk at the supermarket. Send this love from your highest self to theirs, remember that they are not just the personality that you are interacting with, they are an eternal soul like you, and you are connected; send love to that eternal soul which is connected to yours. No need to tell them, just send it from the heart, and feel the warmth and beauty of that energy, notice how you instantly feel better, and perhaps the other person responds to you differently as well.  You will see that by sending this love to others, you become the beneficiary of that energy. You will feel lighter and more present. 

When you have this down, the third step is to send unconditional love to the person who cut you off in traffic, or the person who gave you a dirty look at work. After doing this enough you will begin to see how easy it is to make the choice to simply send love and to forgive, without conditions. You will see how this releases you from the knee-jerk negative reactions that we typcially fall victim to in these situations, and instead allows you to remain in the ‘flow’ of your day without being thrown off-track by negativity.

Finally, when you are ready, sit in meditation and begin sending this same energy to any person or people who deeply wronged you in the past, send it to the people you most need to forgive in order to move on, and this may include yourself. Just choose to do it, without thinking about it. Thinking about it will draw you back into the story, and as discussed in my previous post letting go of the story is a crucial part of forgiveness. [If you find that thoughts about the story keep coming up as you do this, try the exercises I recommend in ‘Thought Seeds’ to rid yourself of those thoughts and continue sending the unconditional love and forgiveness.] After a time you will begin to feel a release, you will begin to feel as if there is space around the hurt, around the story, that it no longer seems to affect you the way it used to. Finish the meditation be surrounding yourself with a bubble of pure gold light. Intend that this bubble will be a barrier that will only allow love and high energies to come through, and will keep out any negativity. You may only need to do this once or you may need to do it a number of times until you feel released from the story, until you feel the fire subside and new growth beginning.

Humanity is in deep need of forgiveness. Forgiveness is how we heal the world and stop the cycles of suffering. When you hear crazy and horrible things on the evening news, such as the events this week in Boston, remember that forgiveness is your highest calling, it is the energy which will heal the world.  Allow yourself to feel the pain and anger, but also be brave enough to forgive, and wise enough to know that forgiveness is the only way to finally be free.

I also recommend the book “Radical Forgiveness” by Collin Tipping, for those who want to explore forgiveness more deeply. Tipping offers some wonderful and profound exercises in forgiveness and offers new perspective on the negative things which happen in our lives.

Namaste,
Rhea Jamil

Keys to Forgiveness

rainbowForgiveness is letting go of the story you have become attached to. Most of us are attached to our stories, even the negative ones. We think we need those stories to define who we are and to justify our actions and our thinking. We cling to the negative story because it allows us to feel like we have a reason and a meaning for what we have become. The story may have caused you to become someone who is angry, or hurt, or afraid. You might also feel like the story has given you strength and character as well, but know that those positive traits will always stay with you, even when you let the story go – you have those traits because you’ve always had them and perhaps the story allowed you to discover that – but letting go of the story through forgiveness and unconditional love will allow you to be truly free of the anger, hurt or fear that has been created as a result of the story. It is not even about letting someone else off the hook for what they’ve done, it is about letting yourself off the hook from needing to be satisfied with some resolution to something which can never be resolved. Not long ago I read an article about a woman who had forgiven the man who killed her daughter. To explain why she would forgive such a thing she said “[He] owed us a debt he could never repay. And releasing him from that debt would release us from expecting that anything in this world could satisfy us.”1

Forgiveness is releasing yourself from the poison of hate and anger, releasing yourself from being defined by your story, and freeing yourself from the power which the story or person has had in your life. In this way forgiveness is more about you and what you need to be whole, and less about the other person or people who you are forgiving. People who create suffering are suffering deeply themselves, and they tend to perpetuate cycles of suffering through their unconscious actions which are driven from this dark place of suffering. Your choice is to continue to be part of that cycle or to end it. The only way to end it is through forgiveness.

Forgiveness and unconditional love are essentially the same thing, they are the same energy and vibration. Unconditional love is what allows forgiveness to flow, and likewise forgiveness allows unconditional love. It all stems from the recognition that you and the other person are one, and that anything they have done to you has been done in darkness, in unconsciousness and unawareness of the oneness between you. Your soul is made of the stuff of unconditional love. It is what you are. When you tap into this remembering of who you actually are, it becomes easy to forgive, it becomes as natural to you as breathing, because you are simply being exactly what you are. Then forgiveness is as simple as making a choice, just as you choose chocolate or vanilla ice cream. This is not to down-play the significance of this choice, but to show that when you are in your essential self, it is that easy. You choose to forgive – you don’t try to forgive, you don’t work at it – you just choose it. The choice of forgiveness is a release. It is a recognition that you and the person who has wronged you are connected, but that the story you have created with that person is not in alignment with your essential self or your growth and must be left behind in order to move forward on your path. You are not allowing the negative energies which were created between you and the mirror of you in the other person to rule your life and influence your thinking. In my next post I will offer some specific exercises to open the doorway to this kind of forgiveness.

Love and Light,
Rhea Jamil

1 New York Times Magazine, Jan 6, 2013 “Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/magazine/can-forgiveness-play-a-role-in-criminal-justice.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&