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LECTURE 11
Love as the Pulse of the Cosmos: Reconnecting With The Divine Ground



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Lecture 12
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Rebalancing the Psyche: Integrating the Feminine Principle Body, Soul and Spirit
Lecture 11
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Love as the Pulse of the Cosmos: Reconnecting With the Divine Ground
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Seeing through the Veil: Reuniting Three Dimensions of Reality
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Unexplored Dimensions of Consciousness
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Lecture 11

LOVE AS THE PULSE OF THE COSMOS:
RECONNECTING WITH THE DIVINE GROUND.

For Revision, London: June 16th, 2002

"Love is the most universal, the most tremendous, the most mysterious of the cosmic forces. Is it truly possible for humanity to continue to live and grow without asking itself how much truth and energy it is losing by neglecting its incredible powers of love?"
                                                             
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Spirit of the Earth, 1931

Love is the inner, the universal, the cosmic Self.     Swami Muktananda, Mukteshwari I

I have had only one experience in my life of what I would describe as cosmic love. It came about ten years ago when I was recovering from a serious operation. I had not eaten anything for several days. It felt like the sun coming out after a winter of darkness; a warm, enveloping feeling of intense and unconditional love which seemed to flow into and through me towards every person I met. It lasted for about ten days after I left the hospital. It was as if a dam in my heart had burst and the water of love poured out into the world. I was simply a vehicle of that love. How, I wondered, could this powerful experience change my understanding of life and my relationships with other people?
      There is no doubt that the modern world is in crisis and that more and more people are feeling the pressure of a deep unease. The events of 9/11 have called for a radical change in our understanding of life, above all, for the need to relinquish old habits, old beliefs that perpetuate divisions and defences between people and nations. What could unite us, connect us to each other, transform the way we see and relate to each other?
      Before I come to the main theme of Cosmic Love, I would like to speak briefly about the new vision of reality that is emerging in our time: it is a vision that offers us a new concept of Spirit as an energy field - a cosmic sea of being. It is not something transcendent to ourselves but the ground of our being, the ground of the experience we call life. It also offers us an image of Spirit as the creative consciousness or organising intelligence of that sea or field. Most importantly, it offers us a new image of ourselves as belonging to and participating in that field of consciousness - as co-creators with the creative intelligence of the universe. This new vision has not yet reached the media, mainstream science or the churches, but if it could become more widely diffused, it might help to change our understanding and, eventually, our culture.
      We are the inheritors of an immensely rich spiritual tradition - from India, Persia, the Middle East and elsewhere which speaks of love as the pulse of the cosmos and the secret pulse of our own being. The exquisite poetry of this tradition - the poems of Rumi or the Song of Songs come to mind - speaks of the longing of the human heart for reconnection with its Source or Ground but also of the longing of that Source for communion with ourselves. "I was a treasure longing to be known; that is why I created the world," says a hadith in the Koran.
      This invisible consciousness of the universe can only communicate with us through those few individuals during the millennia of our human experience on this planet who pay attention to it; who focus on becoming receptive to its presence. We only know of the existence of this consciousness through the few people who have spoken of their experience of it - people whom I call astronauts of the soul. Some have described it as Father, as Christ did; others as Mother, as the Daoists and the Indian sage Ramakrishna did. Some describe it as Cosmic Love; others as Creative Intelligence or Sacred Mind. People who have had near-death experiences describe it as both Light and Love. They are profoundly changed by their experience, losing all fear of death; although they return to this dimension of experience, the focus of their life is to stay in touch with the love radiating from the ground they have encountered. Here is one recent testimony: "The Light seemed to breathe me in even more deeply. It was as if the Light was completely absorbing me. The Love Light is, to this day, indescribable. I entered into another realm, more profound that the last, and became aware of something more, much more. It was an enormous stream of Light, vast and full, deep in the Heart of Life." 1
      The greatest spiritual teachers as well as these modern experiences affirm that love is the fundamental principle of the universe; that the universe is brought into being by love and sustained by love, that we participate in, and are contained in this fathomless sea of love. Bringing us to the discovery that we belong to this divine ground, that we are part of it, is the secret intention of the life that lives us. All traditions say that, as Blake understood, the doors of our perception have to be cleansed so that we can see and experience the dazzling presence of the divine ground. The eye of the heart and the eye of the mind have to be prepared for the revelation that we are, in essence, one with that Light and Love. A passage from the Zohar says that when a man has been shut up in darkness for a long time, one has to make a tiny opening for him at first, and then another a little larger, and another, until he can bear the full radiance of the Light. In the Indian Vedic texts that may be the remnants of an oral tradition from a lost civilisation buried 10,000 years ago beneath the waters of the Great Flood, we hear the primal words which describe the beginning of the universe: "There was not then what is nor what is not. There was no sky, and no heaven beyond the sky. What power was there? Where? Who was that power?..There was neither death nor immortality then…The One was breathing by its own power, in infinite peace. Only the One was: there was nothing beyond…And in the One arose love: love the first seed of the soul. The truth of this the sages found in their hearts: seeking in their hearts with wisdom, the sages found that bond of union between being and non-being." 2
      Later, in the Upanishads, we find Brahman - the supreme reality - described as Truth and as Love; Brahman as Spirit both transcendent and immanent, dwelling beyond and within all that we can know or apprehend. The idea of the bond of love between the Divine Ground and the human soul is described in the peerless poetry of the Bhagavad Gita. There, Krishna - the supreme image of the Self or transcendent consciousness - says to Arjuna "only through constant love can I be known and seen as I really am, and entered into" (11:54) and again, "Fix your mind on Me, give your heart's love to Me, consecrate all your actions to My service, hold your own self as nothing before Me. To Me you will come; truly I promise for you are dear to Me". (18:65)
      Still later, we hear the voice of the Buddha and his teaching about how to clear the psyche of all that clouds the luminosity of the divine ground - rather in the way that one used to clarify beef consommé by continually skimming off the froth that rises to the surface - so that we may become transmitters of the light and love radiating like the sun from the Source of Life.
      In the Christian tradition, we hear the voice of Christ and the affirmation that is the foundation of his teaching: "God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16) And the great commandment he gave to his disciples on the eve of his Passion: "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you too must love one another," summoning them, in effect, to become, like him, Sons of God. (John: 13: 34-35 and 15:12).
      Mystics from all traditions have spoken of their encounter with the cosmic love of the divine ground and none more beautifully than Julian of Norwich: "Thus I learned that love is our Lord's meaning. And I saw full surely in this and in everything else, that before God made us, he loved us. And that love was never ended nor ever shall be. And in this love he has performed all his actions; he has made all things profitable to us. And in this love our life is everlasting. In our making we had our beginning: but the love wherein he made us is without beginning…And all this shall we see in God without end." 3
      And, finally, we have Dante, guided by Beatrice to his great vision of the Empyrean:

There my will and desire
Were one with Love;
The love that moves
The sun and the other stars
. 4

How could we define the feeling of love? In my experience, it is associated with a feeling of ecstatic joy, an upwelling of joy that exists prior to any conception of what that joy might pertain to. That joy may well up suddenly and unexpectedly as one awakes from sleep and one may lie in bed blissfully immersed in it as one returns to the focus of this life from communion with a deeper ground. A verse from one of the Upanishads says "And then he saw that Brahman was joy: for from joy all beings have come, by joy they all live, and unto joy they all return." 5
      How does that capacity for joy, for love, awaken in us? First of all it arises through the blissful experience of the infant's relationship with its mother, or even earlier, the blissful experience in the womb (provided, of course, that the relationship has been blissful). Look at the face of a newly born infant that has been delivered with all the care and attention and love shown by Leboyer in his approach to childbirth. As the child grows up trust may be one of the fruits of that primary love and care: the mutual trust between child and adult that leads her to trust life, rejoice in life, other people and herself.
      Later it manifests through our attraction to some kind of activity that arouses our passionate commitment - that calls us to develop a talent, a skill of some kind through which we can express our essential being - basically - our love.
      It manifests in our relationships - our capacity to trust others and to give love to them and receive love from them, often sustained through the most difficult circumstances.
      It may come through the discovery that we can help others in some way, that we enjoy helping others, that we can help others to transform their suffering, and that, in doing this, we transform our own.
      Again, love may arise when we can truly see something clearly for the first time with fresh eyes as when we saw our planet from space for the first time. Edgar Mitchell described his view of earth as a glimpse of divinity and wrote this on his journey home from the moon: "Gazing through 240,000 miles of space towards the stars and the planet from which I had come, I suddenly experienced the Universe as intelligent, loving, harmonious." The last astronaut to walk on the moon wrote this: "I stood in the blue darkness and looked in awe at the Earth from the lunar surface. What I saw was too beautiful to grasp…It was too beautiful to have happened by accident."(Gene Cernan)
      Time is needed to reflect on and absorb all these and more aspects of love, time to discover how to relate to the energy that is living through us. I am reminded of the story of Martha and Mary: Martha caught in the net of the preoccupations of every day life; Mary sitting in stillness, listening to the symphony of a deeper reality.
      If we trust the word of the mystics, love is the great holding, connecting power of the universe. It is so difficult for us to realise that our life is an expression of that love, that everything we are and do flows from that love, that all our relationships, our creative endeavours, our hopes, our longings, our fears and failures, even the wounds inflicted by our cruelties and hatreds, exist in the womb of that love.
      What about hatred and cruelty? I think these are born from fear and from the belief that we are not loved, not loveable: they are born from self-rejection, self-hatred, a distortion of our nature caused by past and present suffering that festers in us unrecognised and unhealed. The Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh has this to say about love as mindfulness, as the ability to contain anger and the desire for vengeance. "If," he says, "I were given the opportunity to be face to face with Osama bin Laden, the first thing I would do is listen. I would try to understand all of the suffering that had led him to violence…because such an act of violence is a desperate call for attention and for help." 6
      Cosmic Love can act more effectively through us as our capacity to feel empathy for the suffering of others grows. Thich Nhat Hanh exemplifies that empathic understanding which could bring about healing at the international level if we were able to embody it in that sphere.
      There are many methods of healing that are now being discovered and implemented. In relation to our own profession, I have recently come across the writings of a counsellor called Brian Thorne. I would like to read you his eloquent words:

"There are moments in my work as a therapist when I feel outside time and space and cannot conceive that heaven itself could be more desirable. They are characterised for both my client and me by a sense of radical, unconditional unearned acceptance and by an empowerment within that makes of capable, however, briefly, of loving the whole created order. In short, we have ourselves been swept up into the divine relationship …For a moment, however fleeting, we are whole and holy, fully human and therefore the incarnation of the divine."

I believe that we therapists have an opportunity…to affect the course of human history if we can but seize the moment. We are the guardians of knowledge given us by countless suffering individuals who seek our help…It is not fanciful to see the counsellors and therapists of our day as the chief recipients of the collective pain and yearning of the age. This is a treasure beyond price; but its value lies in its capacity, if fully revealed and articulated, to give meaning to present distress and to provide hope and guidance for the future. 7

Love calls us to caring, solicitude, insight, gentleness and understanding but also to strength, power, and intelligence used in the service of humanity or other species on the planet. It calls us to make conscious and contain the desire for control and the need for dominance that are rooted in the opposite of love, in fear.
      Jung was far in advance of his time in recognising the need for a new definition of our relationship to God or Spirit. His understanding of the shadow and of our huge potential, both for good and for evil, opened for us a new avenue for psychic transformation. This is what he wrote in a letter:

"We have become participants of the divine life and we have to assume a new responsibility. The responsible living and fulfilling of the divine love in us will be our form of worship of, and commerce with, God. His goodness means grace and light and his dark side the terrible temptation of power. Man has already received so much knowledge that he can destroy his own planet. Let us hope that God's good spirit will guide him in his decisions, because it will depend on man's decision whether God's creation will continue." 8

      Moving now towards the end of this talk, I wanted to bring to your attention an extraordinary book which I have found very helpful in understanding things at a much deeper level than that recognised by modern schools of psychotherapy. It throws new light on Jung's concept of the collective unconscious. It is a book called Dark Night, Early Dawn, by Christopher Bache, formerly Director of Studies at the Noetic Institute in California. 9
      Because the existence or presence of a deeper ground of consciousness is such a new concept for many of us, I would like to quote a few passages from his book which describe his encounter with the deeper ground of being that he calls Sacred Mind. "To those who have experienced these dimensions of the deep psyche," he says, "our sensory-based culture looks as out of balance as a civilization that refuses to allow itself the joy and wonder of seeing the night sky. It lives in a state of denial, rejecting half its natural existence and exhausting itself in relentless consumerism."

"Sacred Mind is not a distant reality that surfaces only in nonordinary states of consciousness but the inner lining of everyday life. It is the unbounded awareness within which all individualized experience occurs, the living matrix within which minds meet and engage. The dynamics of Sacred Mind, therefore, are "hidden" in plain sight, but we fail to recognize them for two reasons. First, we habitually restrict our experience of mind to the nearby territory of ego and, second, our culture has not taught us to recognize the presence of this broader mental field, let alone how it functions. Because we are constantly taught that only individual beings have minds, we fail to recognize instances of transindividual mental functioning operating in our everyday life….Awakening inside Sacred Mind slowly sensitizes one to the fact that this Mind permeates every aspect of life. It is the medium within which we all exist, the mental field within which all minds meet." p. 183

      How, I wondered, could we become more open to the presence of this deeper field of consciousness in the practice of psychotherapy? Here is his description of his encounter with Sacred Mind:

"After some intervening experience, I was brought to an encounter with a unified energy field underlying all physical existence. I was confronting an enormous field of blindingly bright, incredibly intense energy...This energy was the single energy that comprised all existence. All things that existed were but varied aspects of its comprehensive existence." p.67

"Somewhere in here I realized that I was not going to be able to take back with me the knowledge I had gathered on this journey. The Intelligence I was with also knew this, making our few hours of contact all the more precious to It. There was nothing I was going to be able to do with this knowledge except experience it now. My greatest service was simply to appreciate what I was seeing. It seemed extremely important to mirror existence back to its Creator in loving appreciation. To see, to understand, and to appreciate." p. 70

"Though these experiences were extraordinary in their own right, the most poignant aspect of today's session was not the discovered dimensions of the universe themselves but what my seeing and understanding them meant to the Consciousness I was with. It seemed so pleased to have someone to show Its work to. I felt that it had been waiting for billions of years for embodied consciousness to evolve to the point where we could at long last begin to see, understand and appreciate what had been accomplished. I felt the loneliness of this Intelligence having created such a masterpiece and having no one to appreciate Its work, and I wept. I wept for its isolation and in awe of the profound love which had accepted this isolation as part of a larger plan. Behind creation lies a LOVE of extraordinary proportions, and all of existence is an expression of this love. The intelligence of the universe's design is equally matched by the depth of love that inspired it." p. 70

I believe that the issues that engage us as therapists and as the clients who come to us for help are rooted at the deepest level in the unrecognized need to connect with this deeper ground of reality. If, as therapists, we don't bring this deeper ground into the space between us and our clients (which does not mean imposing our awareness of it on them but simply imagining its presence), if we don't hold them in the embrace of the cosmic love that enfolds us, we may not be able to respond to our own and other people's suffering at this deep level. It may be that the sole purpose of all our lives is to grow into this awareness.
      The traditions I have spoken about as well as modern testimonies to the existence of this deeper ground of consciousness, tell us that love as the cosmic pulse of the universe flows to us in the creation and becoming of our own being, holding this world of time in the embrace of eternity. The words of the great Christian mystic, Ruysbroeck, offer the essence of this embrace:

"When love has carried us above all things we receive in peace the incomprehensible Light, enfolding us and penetrating us. What is this Light, if it be not a contemplation of the Infinite, and an intuition of Eternity? We behold that which we are, and we are that which we behold; because our being, without losing anything of its own personality, is united with the Divine Truth." 10

“Only love can bring individual beings to their perfect completion as individuals,
by uniting them one with another,
because only love takes possession of them
and unites them by what lies deepest in them.”

Teilhard de Chardin, Pensees 72

 

©Anne Baring

References:

1. Mellen-Thomas Benedict in The Near-Death Experience, edited by Lee. W. Bailey & Jenny Yates, Routledge, New York & London 1996
2. The Upanishads, translated and with an introduction by Juan Mascaró, Penguin Books, London 1965
3. Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love
4. Paradiso, last canto
5. The Upanishads, translated and with an introduction by Juan Mascaró
6. see Caduceus Magazine #54 or their website: www.caduceus.info
7. Brian Thorne, Person-Centred Counselling and Christian Spirituality, Whurr Publishers, London, 1998. See also The Mystical Power of Person-Centre Therapy: Hope Beyond Despair, Whurr Publishers, 2002.
8. C.G. Jung, Letters, Vol. 11, p. 316 - letter to Elined Kotschnig, quoted in C.G. Jung: Wounded Healer of the Soul, p. 199, by Claire Dunne, Parabola Books, 2000
9. Dark Night, Early Dawn, Suny Press, New York, 2000. See another section of this website (New Vision: Cosmic Soul, Sacred Mind, Spirit) for other passages from his book.
10. Jan van Ruysbroeck, The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage, The Book of Truth, The Sparkling Stone, Dutton & Co. New York, 1916

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