Many of my friends are currently commenting on the nature of God’s Love on social media, in response to this tweet by Russell M. Nelson, president of the LDS Church (aka Mormonism), my former religious tradition:
The comments are particularly concerned with needing to “qualify” for that Love, and it “requiring obedience.” So I thought I’d add my thoughts to the conversation about God’s Love, from a more mystical vantage point.
What is God’s Love? I suggest that God’s Love is God, so it is a bit of a repetition. It’s like saying God’s God, or Love’s Love. John made note of this equivalence:
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21 The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
(If you enjoy this writing and content, please consider giving a Gift. If every reader gave just $1, it would be sufficient for my family's needs. I am deeply grateful to you for your kindness and generosity. 🙏 —Bryce)-1 John 4:7-21
He repeated it twice, in case we didn’t catch it the first time: God is Love. Those who love are born of God (are of God’s same essence), and thus know God. If we love, God lives in us, and we live in God, because God is Love.
Now, in LDS Mormonism, they have trouble with these verses, because they believe that God is literally a human male. So they teach that these verses are not talking about what God actually is, but what God does. But I think they may be mistaken. I think Love is not just something that God happens to do in “His” spare time, but is the actual ontological nature of the cosmos itself, and thus the Ultimate Divine Reality.
I suggest that Love is synonymous with the One, the Singularity, the whole or totality that is this Uni-verse (“One Song”), and beyond. Modern humans only evolved some 300,000 years ago, but the universe began nearly 14 billion years ago, so this One predates humans by quite a bit.
In the beginning we think there was a gravitational singularity which gave birth to our universe. It was all there was, a single point of infinite density, infinite temperature, and infinite spacetime curvature (all the Infinites). But it seems to have exploded in what we call the “Big Bang,” and in that explosion we think the singularity was annihilated; no longer was there a single dimensionless point of infinite density.
But what what exploded? We tend do think that the explosion happened within spacetime, but spacetime didn’t exist outside of the singularity. It was the explosion of the singularity itself that produced spacetime within itself, of itself, from its own infinite nature. It was the singularity itself that rapidly expanded itself into what we now know as the universe. It’s not expanding into anything, it is itself expanding, increasing the spatial geometry of spacetime itself (or so it seems from our human perspective). The singularity wasn’t annihilated; it became the cosmos we know today, including ourselves.
So the singularity didn’t go anywhere. It is still right here, and it is in every single here you could ever find. Even astrophysicists will say that the Big Bang didn’t happen anywhere, it happened everywhere, because it was spacetime itself that banged, including every point or place within it. The Singularity became the Uni-verse. They are both singular. That’s because they are both singular. It is just one reality, one universe, one singularity, and that is us. That is the neoplatonic One, that is the Holy (Wholly) One of Israel. That is “God,” the Ultimate Reality. It is “One Great Whole,” a phrase which Mormons are familiar with.
So the Singularity which was the origin of the uni-verse, and which still is the uni-verse, created within itself all things that are. Everything that ever was, is, or will be, will be a manifestation of that singularity, within that singularity we call the uni-verse. We too are all part of that singularity, manifestations of it, expressions of it, emanations of it, incarnations of it. The Singularity incarnates its own Self, from the energy within itself, to produce beings like us and all other lifeforms, so that it can reflect on itself, and know itself. We are that Singularity reflecting on itself, Aristotle’s eternally self-contemplating God. When we look out on the world and cosmos, we are not looking at some “other,” but our own greater Self, the Self of this Singularity. We are like mirrors reflecting mirrors, of our Divine Self, another analogy which Mormons are probably familiar with.
So when we talk about God’s “Love,” we are ultimately referring to that singular nature of the entire universe itself, that singularity, that One, the Holy (Wholly) One of Israel (in the Abrahamic traditions). It is perhaps synonymous with the Dharmakaya in Mahayana Buddhism, the ultimate Reality, the truth body of reality, and even beyond this to the unmanifest, what we might call the Godhead (the source from which this all flows). One writer notes that the Dharmakaya is “the body of reality itself [i.e. the Whole], without specific, delimited form [i.e. its internal particularities], wherein the Buddha is identified with the spiritually charged nature of everything that is [i.e. the All].”
Because this Uni-verse is One, it often shows itself as one in many ways, such as in the gravitation that attracts every part and particle of the universe to every other part and particle. It is in the nuclear forces which hold an atom together. It is in the chemical bonds that hold multiple atoms together. It shows up in the quantum entanglement which connects particles as one single thing, even though they appear to us to be separated by any distance. It shows in the way gas clouds come together to form stars, and planets. It shows in the way molecules combine to form complex life. There is a continual attraction at all different levels, binding the Whole together as One Singular Uni-verse, gluing it together as a seamless undivided Whole.
How does that ultimate Oneness manifest in human experience? Often through human relationships, friendships, cooperation, company, agreement, comm-unities, comm-union, comm-unication (“together we are One”), being together (“where two or three are gathered together in my name…”), through charity and altruism (sacrificing one’s self to give to the Self), through romantic Love, sexual Love including joining of the sexes into a single flesh, through seeing all people, animals, beings, not as something “other” but as manifestations of the same Self that we are, emanations of the One Singularity, this One Uni-verse. We all belong to this “One Song,” and we are the notes. ♬
So you can see that if this is Love is the very nature of reality itself, it doesn’t make sense to say that we “qualify” for it. No, it is impossible to escape the Love of God. You would have to escape the universe, and that is not possible. This is perhaps the kind of thing that Paul was referring to when he said:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.-Romans 8:38-39
We are embedded in Love, made of Love, manifestations of Love, incarnations of Love. It is simply what we are, before it is anything that we do.
The only thing that we might say that we “qualify” for is becoming aware of this ever-present and all-pervading Love. And in order to do that, we must surrender our ego. We must let go of the finite dualistic independent subjective self that we think we are in our rational mind, and this can be done through a number of various contemplative practices like meditation or contemplative prayer, and other means.
When we fully let go of the constructed ego identity in our mind, which separates and divides all things apart, including our self from the Uni-verse/Singularity, then all things are brought back together again, gathered into nonduality, oneness, at-One-ment. We realize the One again, the Singularity that we are. When the veil of ego drops from the mind, then Love is known fully and completely. The Divine is known. We know the true Self, the Christ Self, pure Christ Consciousness, the Buddha-nature.
We don’t have to obey any other person, doctrine, ritual, scripture, or otherwise in order to know this Love, because it is simply what we are in our deepest nature. It is the Spirit of the cosmos as it has come to incarnate as and inhabit itself in us. And we can know it directly. Love knows Love.
Richard Rohr likes to say:
God loves all things by becoming them.-Richard Rohr
God “wanted” to experience its Self through you, through your lens, through your eyes, and so God became you, incarnating its Self as you. Of course, I don’t think God literally had desires to do this in some kind of divine brain, since I don’t think God is literally a human. But it was rather the natural direction that the Uni-verse took, that the Singularity went, that the One Spirit blew (John 3:8). And now the One is you, and me, and all beings, the very incarnation of the cosmos.
Jesus said that the first commandment was to love God, and the second was like it, to love one’s neighbor as one’s self. Why was it like the first? Because ultimately the two commandments are one. One’s neighbor is one’s Self, and to know that, and embody it in life, is Love. It is God, its Self. He also instructed them,
Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another-John 13:34-35
I suggest Jesus loved them because he knew them to be manifestations of his own deeper Self, the Christ Self. “Inasmuch as you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto me.” We should read that in the first person, not as it pertains to Jesus. Jesus was teaching them how to love the “other,” because in this God was found. In this they came to know their deepest Self, which is God, which is Love, which is One, which is the Singularity. No other qualification or obedience was necessary, to any law or otherwise.
When they came to know this Love that is the ultimate identity of their self and all others, then they would have the “Law of God” written on their own mind and heart (Hebrews 10:16), within their own self, because it was their own true Name and Identity. It was their new Name, the Christ Self.
Love is the essential nature of everything that is, and is isness, beingness, I AM-ness, the ultimate Reality of all things, including us. There is nowhere we can go, and nothing we can do, to escape it. It is our true Self. When we identify exclusively with our ego-mind and ego-self, we cut ourselves off dualistically from others and the rest of the world, in our mind. We Fall from the Presence of the One, in our mind. The subject-object intellect cannot perceive things in oneness, because subject-object perceptions are necessarily dualistic (subject and object), which is why we have to transcend that intellect to know the One, to realize we are the One, all of us, and this is the Body of Christ.
When we sacrifice our self, give of our self, let go of our self, volunteer our self, give to others, surrender to Reality, embrace the present, forget our self, submit our self to the Will of Reality, stop grasping, stop attaching our identity to things, and let the ego die, then the separation is healed, then the rift is mended, then there is no brokenness, we are redeemed from the Fall, then we know the One because we are the One, then we love because we are Love. No one else can give this to us, teach it to us, tell us, not even me. It can only be known in truth through direct experience of it in one’s own Self. It is necessarily so, because the insight itself is of one’s own Self. No one else can give you this insight of your own Self, the universal Self of the One.
The pure Love of Christ is “granted” to all beings who have ever been, are, or will be, without exception, without condition, without boundary, without limit, from the foundation of the kosmos (Eph. 1:4). It is the very deepest nature of our being, even being itself in this Singularity of this One Song. Only we can become unconscious or unaware of what we are, the dualistic mind constructing the illusory ego-self as a veil, obscuring this true divine nature within, the ego eclipsing the very Light of our deepest nature and being, like the moon eclipses the sun. Our ego only seems to cut us off from this inner Light. But the ego or false self is like a mirage on the horizon of the desert; the closer you get to it, to really looking at it, observing it, contemplating it, the more it vanishes, only leaving the Real, the desert of the Real.
Today is Juneteenth, and we celebrate the emancipation of slaves in the USA. Unfortunately we gave up one system of imprisonment for another, in mass incarceration and forced labor as punishment. The USA, and even the world, are recognizing the systemic racism that is becoming visible on all sides. The ego that had veiled this problem, that had separated us from each other based on skin color, is being pulled back, revealing the Self. The One is revealing itself. This is an apocalypse, a true unveiling/uncovering.
But in a deeper way we are all imprisoned in our identification with ego, with the finite self, with our first-person perceptions in the rational psychological mind. Liberation/salvation in the ultimate sense is to be free from this narrow identification, to let it go, to surrender it, to sacrifice it on the altar of God, to become selfless, egoless, which is what unveils our true Self, and that One is free, unbounded, unlimited, the Infinite, the Holy (Wholly) One. It is the Spirit that blows where it will, freely. It is no longer imprisoned in and controlled by ego. That devil has been known, that son of perdition unveiled, and its game is up (2 Thes. 2:3-4).
Love is revealed as our true nature, freeing us to be our true Self, our God-Self, the Christ Consciousness, not limited to any particular finite being, but realizing our deepest identity is the One, the Singularity, which includes all beings everywhere and always. Our identity is the Whole, not the part, and so we embody that Whole in all that we do, giving of ourself to all the Self. The finite person is transcended but re-included in a greater sense of Being that is co-equal and co-eternal with God. We become Christs in the world, the Buddha, the Beloved who Loves, the One.
What do you think? What is Love to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments.