A verse in the New Testament reads,
God is Love.-1 John 4:8, 16
It’s repeated twice in the same chapter.
But what does it mean? We usually think of love as some kind of sentimental thing, merely an emotion that we feel with or towards other people. How could it be anything more than this?
Martin Luther King Jr. once said:
When I speak of Love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality.-Martin Luther King Jr.
Theologian scientists have said similarly, such as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:
The physical structure of the universe is love.-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
But again, what does that mean? How can love be God, Ultimate Reality, the very physical structure of the universe? It can seem absurd and pseudoscientific, just spiritual mumbo jumbo, mystical gibberish. Clearly the universe is not made of love, but rather atoms, electrons, quarks, gluons, photons, forces, fields, etc. Right?!
I think one of the main reasons why Love is the ultimate reality is because that ultimate reality is One, a Singularity, a Monad, a Whole. It is really a uni-verse, meaning “One Song,” “turned into One,” “turned back to One.” And because it is One, that means everything in it is related to everything else at a very deep level. It is all part of the very same essence, the same energy, the same unified field, the same Reality.
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But why Love? That seems something intensely personal, between human beings, an intimate relationship. Exactly. The most intimate relationship is the One itself, the Holy (Wholly) One, that which binds us together as One essence. We love others because we see our Self in them. We realize we are not ultimately separate, not apart, but of the same Spirit. You realize you are not really two beings, but actually One Being, One Spirit, One Reality.
Jesus says in the Gospel of Mark:
…at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.-Mark 10:6-8; cf. 1 Cor. 11:11
This scripture has often been interpreted in a sexual way, that intercourse brings a man and woman together as one body, one physical flesh. But I think there is a deeper mystical meaning too, where God incarnates its Self in dualities, God manifests its own image in “them,” but through the bringing together of those dualities, those opposites, into a transcendent unity we realize the One again, we realize God. The two are no longer two, and separate, but they are a singular One, a Holy (Wholly) One.
Jesus says something similar in the gnostic text, the Gospel of Thomas:
When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female… then you will enter [the kingdom].-Gospel of Thomas, Saying 22, http://gnosis.org/naghamm/gosthom.html
Here we see more clearly the unity of the opposites beyond simply male and female, many dualities, and the bringing together of dualities, binaries, polarities, and seeing their transcendent wholeness.
As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The road up and the road down is one and the same.” We think that the dualities are separate things, contradictions, contraries, and are irreconcilable. But when we transcend our separateness, the duality of the rational thinking mind, we come to see that dualities are actually expressions of One and the same thing. They are not actually two!
I heard Adyashanti comment the other day on his podcast, in an excellent conversation with philosopher-mystic-scholar Peter Kingsley, that he sometimes doesn’t like to use the term nonduality, because some think that it means not duality. But this isn’t the right way to think about it, necessarily. It is not that we reject the dualities, but rather we see them at a higher level as manifestations of a singular reality.
Another example we might use to see this in is light and dark, or day and night. We tend to think that these are wholly two separate things, and completely different. I mean, on the surface they seem like completely opposite and contradictory things. How much more different could day and night be? But what are they, really? It is perhaps the presence or absence of light, or in other words, different expressions of One single thing—Light. Of course, saying presence or absence just introduces another duality, but we can begin to see how such dualities may actually be varied expressions of One thing, and not actually two wholly separate things.
We often think of love between people as the establishment of relationship, the activity of interaction, dialogue, togetherness, etc. But this is perhaps not the right way to think of it, because it maintains the duality between us. It is “me” having a relationship with “you.” Of course, some thinkers like Martin Buber have framed it like that, such as the I-Thou relationship. But there is perhaps even a better way. And that is that love is the breakdown of all relationship, because it is the transcendence of all duality, and the realization of absolute oneness, with zero separation of identity. It is absolute at-One-ment. Rupert Spira recently expressed this:
Just as no person that appears in a dream is separate from the dreamer’s mind, so our essential self knows no separation. This absence of the sense of separation is, from the perspective of the person, felt as Love. As such, Love is not a type of relationship that a person has, it is the ending of relationship. It is the dissolution of the one that would love, and the one that would be loved, and the subsequent revelation of our shared being. It is for this reason that Rumi said, ‘True lovers never really meet.’-Rupert Spira, https://youtu.be/kc9dKMgTX5s
The Lover and their Beloved ultimately realize they are One, so that there is no longer a Lover and a Beloved, but just One Love, and they are That.
So we begin to see this picture that Love is not merely a feeling we humans experience between each other, but is a deeper fundamental quality of reality itself, and even is Reality itself, the greatest Whole, the highest One, the Singularity, the Uni-verse itself. We see things as a host of dualities, but this may be an artifact of our minds, of our dualistic subject-object thinking and perceptions. But at a deeper “spiritual” or mystical level, there are no such dualities, but all is One Great Whole. And we also call this Love.
When we feel love towards another, it is perhaps not because we are establishing a relationship with them, but that the duality and separation which normally separates us from them, in the duality of our minds, which “others” them, is beginning to be eroded, dissolved, seen through, becoming transparent. The separateness is being annihilated and transcended. That veil is falling away between us, revealing our ultimate unified nature, that we are both part of the very same One. Jesus perhaps expressed this in his teaching that “inasmuch as you do it unto the least of these my brothers and sisters, you do it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). He didn’t consider “them” separate from him, but rather that they were him. If you do it either positively or negatively towards them, you are doing such to me, because I see them all as part of me, as part of this greater Self. This is Christ consciousness.
Love, it seems to me, is not the bringing together of two egos, but the dissolution of all egos that separates us from one another, and from nature, from the environment, from the planet, and the totality of the universe itself. As Carl Sagan said, it is the cosmos “knowing itself.” It is the transcendence of that dualistic ego-mind which seems to separate us from all things, from other beings, and from the world and cosmos. As Einstein said, it is overcoming the illusion of separateness in our consciousness, and seeing the unified Whole that is our universe. We usually see it all as “out there,” but in transcendence, in mystical experience, in Love, consciousness comes to see it not as “other,” but all part of our deepest Being.
Even beyond humans, this holistic nature of Love is the very nature and essence of the universe itself. It is the Singularity. It is the Whole. It is the One. It is the Nonduality. It is at-One-ment. It is the Monad. When this is realized, re-cognized, gnosized, it is Love that is realized. And when it is realized, we naturally become agents of Love itself. Our activity naturally becomes loving, it is in harmony with Love, because we know who we ultimately and fundamentally are is Love itself, and so our activity naturally flows from out of that deepest place and identity in Love. We begin to be transformed and transfigured into One who does not seek their own egotistical will, but the will of the One, of the Whole, of the comm-unity, of the good of one and All, of peace, happiness, joy, and well-being of All. I think this is what Jesus was referring to when he said that he does not seek his own will, but the will of the One that “sent” him, the One that incarnated its Self as him and all beings (John 5:30).
When we investigate reality at deeper and deeper levels, we tend to find greater and greater wholes. I think this is what is happening currently in the field of quantum theory and general relativity, for example. They are not looking to reduce things further into smaller parts, but to find unification, wholeness. In seeking ultimate reality, we don’t look for smaller and smaller “things,” necessarily, but greater realities that cannot be broken down in their essence, such as fields which pervade the totality of the universe, but which may be the source of all things that are. These cannot be reduced to parts, or differentiated into objects, because they are fundamentally holistic in nature. They are not ultimately “things” in the traditional sense, but rather they encompass the whole of reality, the All, and are infinite in nature as far as we can tell.
Some may think, “but that’s not a scientific theory! It’s not testable, it’s not falsifiable, it doesn’t predict anything, etc.” I suggest it is very much so. It is testable. We can test it in contemplative practice. We can look deeply within consciousness and find that the ultimate reality is Love.
To be sure, we won’t ultimately find it as anything “out there,” as our traditional scientific domain explores the world, because it is the Whole itself. We will find clues of this oneness, such as in quantum entanglement, gravity, fields, binding forces, relationships, interactions, etc., but we won’t find the ultimate as it is in itself unless we look “in here,” within consciousness. As St. Augustine said, he spent his whole life looking “out there” in the “created things” for God, but came to realize to his great surprise that God was within him all along.
Can it be proven false? Can evidence contradict it, and show that reality is actually not Love? Some might say that the existence of evil in the world, especially natural evil, is already evidence that contradicts it. They may say, Ultimate Reality cannot be Love because of the existence of the horrors of genocide, of hurricanes, of earthquakes, of fires, of child abuse, of torture, of starvation and death. What is “loving” about that? How could Love be in all of that? How could Love incarnate as that? I’ve explored before natural evil, so I won’t repeat that all here, but I suggest that such realities exist because all polarities or opposites must exist in reality, in life, because otherwise there is none. The One, the All, the Whole, the Love, incarnates itself as all dualities, because that is the only way that it can incarnate, for existence to be. And as I’ve said before, even the darkest end of the dualities can be transcended in a greater unity.
I think that this theory would be proven false if the ultimate reality was demonstrated to not be One, not be a Singularity, not be a Whole. But it seems to me that more and more evidence is pouring in showing that it is these things, and when we look deeply within we experience directly that it is. It is the ultimate observation, the highest empiricism, the greatest “knowledge.”
Does it predict anything? I think so. I think it predicts, as I said above, that we will continue to find greater and greater wholes, deeper integrations, more holistic realities, more transcendent unities, more inclusive identities, more integral symmetries, more ways that reality fits together as One. As Einstein found mass and energy were one greater equivalence, mass-energy, and space and time as one greater equivalence, spacetime, and even as mass-energy and spacetime as a greater something (?), we will continue to find greater unification between all our theories, more ways that they fit together as One.
But I don’t think we’ll ever be able to finally find the One we are looking for unless we realize what consciousness itself is, and that can only be done in a fundamental sense on a personal level, within one’s self, one’s own consciousness. We may try to understand consciousness as a detached third-party observer, in “others,” but until we turn around and look deeply at our own consciousness, in consciousness, we won’t know it, we won’t know ourselves intimately, the nature of consciousness itself.
I think ultimately we will find, and have found, that the All is One Great Whole, a Totality. The theory of everything will be found as One, with the mathematical equation being simply “1”, as the everything its Self, and that will not be something separate from us “out there,” but our own deepest Self as One with the All, One in God, the Christ, the Buddha-nature, the Atman in Brahman, the Son in the Father, the relative in the Absolute, the finite in the Infinite, etc.
It is Love.
The photo above is of the “Heart Nebula,” IC 1805, Sharpless 2-190, which is gas cloud located some 7,500 light years away from Earth. The question is: is it really 7,500 light years away from us, or is that apparent space/distance between us a kind of illusion of our finite mind, of our relative perspective? Perhaps at a deeper level of reality, it is not separate from us at all, but is part of the Whole that is us All.