God Is Love

A Meditation on the Indefinable Nature of the Divine 


God is Love. How many times have we heard the word “love” being used to define that which is ultimately indefinable? I suppose it is because that’s the only word that can even bring us close to grasping the ungraspable. When we use “love” to define that which is transcendent, absolute, and metaphysical, we’re using it to describe qualities and attributes that are non-ordinary, that represent a higher dimension of human experience, intuition, and cognition. That is why the love that is God is transpersonal, because it points us far beyond our unique individuality or the unique individuality of any other. 

God is love. When the most revered mystics from the world’s great religious traditions speak to us about the love that is God, they almost uniformly declare that the nature of that higher non-ordinary, transpersonal love is peace. They say that the love of God is experienced as a peace that is indescribable, a “peace that passeth all understanding.” A peace that is so rapturous and all-encompassing that in its embrace, all fear and self-concern vanish from consciousness. It is a peace, they say, that will set us free.

God is love. The reason the love that is God can set us free is because that unqualifiable peace was the very nature of existence before the universe was born. Before the universe was born, before time and space existed, there was only peace. When we dive into the deepest depths of our own consciousness, deeper than our thoughts and memories, deeper than even our awareness of the world around us, we discover this very same peace—a mysterious and infinitely compelling emptiness where there is no time, where nothing ever happened, where we are always utterly free.

God is love. The love that is God is the experiential discovery of that deepest dimension of our own selves and of reality itself that the Buddha called the “Unborn,” the “Uncreated,” and the “Deathless.” Spiritual masters refer to it as the Ground of Being. In order to discover it for ourselves, we need to follow in the footsteps of the great ones. That means to close our eyes, turn within, and let the world disappear. It means to pray and meditate with such utter sincerity that all that is left is Being—timeless, formless, infinite Being. 

God is love. But the love that is God is not only peace! The love that is God is also the evolutionary impulse—the powerful desire to exist in and as the universe, the surging energy and intelligence that gave rise to the creative process. From nothing came something! God is the driving force at the heart of the entire cosmic unfolding. 

God is love. The love that is God is Eros, the sexual impulse, the biological imperative to procreate. Eros is the felt experience of unbearable ecstasy and urgency simultaneously. It is the felt experience of the universe endeavoring to give rise to itself within our own bodies. Eros is the felt experience of the restlessness of God once he or she chose to create the universe unendingly.

God is love. The love that is God is the uniquely human urge to consciously create. Human beings are the only species that are driven by a compulsion to innovate—to give rise to that which is new. Indeed, the architects of human culture and civilization throughout history have been those great individuals, those rare geniuses, who have taken bold leaps forward in their own fields.  Their evolution-inspired passion has created and continues to create our shared world anew.

God is love. Finally, the love that is God is the spiritual impulse, the mysterious compulsion to become more conscious. Why is it that some individuals are driven by a deep desire to penetrate the profound mystery and infinite complexity of existence, while others are not? It is because they are awake to the love that is God, as the spiritual impulse, that drive that compels them to pray and meditate and endeavor to develop without end. In fact, they will not stop until they make that perennial breakthrough that makes it possible to know the unknowable and grasp the ungraspable.

God is love. I believe the love that is God is both Being and Becoming. The love that is God is both the experience of that transcendent peace that passeth all understanding and the dynamic, ecstatic urgency of the evolutionary impulse—the energy and intelligence that created and is creating the universe.

God is love. The love that is God is One and not two. The love that is God is both the liberating bliss of transcending the world and it is also, simultaneously, the awakened inspiration and passion for its ongoing development and perpetual evolution.

The love of God is everything.

This post is part of a four part series on love:

Part 1: I Trust You: More Difficult (and more powerful) Than 'I Love You'

Part 2: Piercing the Romantic Illusion 

Part 3: What do You Mean by 'Love'? 

_________________________________________________________________

Andrew Cohen is the best-selling author of Evolutionary Enlightenment: A New Path to Spiritual Awakening. To download a 38-page excerpt, click here.

 

 

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Political division is nothing new. Throughout American history there have been numerous flare ups in which the political arena was more than just tense but incideniary. In a letter addressed to William Hamilton in 1800, Thomas Jefferson once lamented about how an emotional fervor had swept over the populace in regards to a certain political issue at the time. It disturbed him greatly to see how these political issues seemed to seep into every area of life and even affect people's interpersonal relationships. At one point in the letter he states:

"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend."

Today, we Americans find ourselves in a similar situation, with our political environment even more splintered due to a number of factors. The advent of mass digital media, siloed identity-driven political groups, and a societal lack of understanding of basic discursive fundamentals all contribute to the problem.

Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.

The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?


Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression

In a 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey by Cato, it was found that 71% of Americans believe that political correctness had silenced important discussions necessary to our society. Many have pointed to draconian university policies regarding political correctness as a contributing factor to this phenomenon.

It's a great irony that, colleges, once true bastions of free-speech, counterculture and progressiveness, have now devolved into reactionary tribal politics.

Many years ago, one could count on the fact that universities would be the first places where you could espouse and debate any controversial idea without consequence. The decline of staple subjects that deal with the wisdom of the ancients, historical reference points, and civic discourse could be to blame for this exaggerated partisanship boiling on campuses.

Young people seeking an education are given a disservice when fed biased ideology, even if such ideology is presented with the best of intentions. Politics are but one small sliver for society and the human condition at large. Universities would do well to instead teach the principles of healthy discourse and engagement across the ideological spectrum.

The fundamentals of logic, debate and the rich artistic heritage of western civilization need to be the central focus of an education. They help to create a well-rounded citizen that can deal with controversial political issues.

It has been found that in the abstract, college students generally support and endorse the first amendment, but there's a catch when it comes to actually practicing it. This was explored in a Gallup survey titled: Free Expression on Campus: What college students think about First amendment issues.

In their findings the authors state:

"The vast majority say free speech is important to democracy and favor an open learning environment that promotes the airing of a wide variety of ideas. However, the actions of some students in recent years — from milder actions such as claiming to be threatened by messages written in chalk promoting Trump's candidacy to the most extreme acts of engaging in violence to stop attempted speeches — raise issues of just how committed college students are to
upholding First Amendment ideals.

Most college students do not condone more aggressive actions to squelch speech, like violence and shouting down speakers, although there are some who do. However, students do support many policies or actions that place limits on speech, including free speech zones, speech codes and campus prohibitions on hate speech, suggesting that their commitment to free speech has limits. As one example, barely a majority think handing out literature on controversial issues is "always acceptable."

With this in mind, the problems seen on college campuses are also being seen on a whole through other pockets of society and regular everyday civic discourse. Look no further than the dreaded and cliche prospect of political discussion at Thanksgiving dinner.

Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner

As a result of this increased tribalization of views, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to engage in polite conversation with people possessing opposing viewpoints. The authors of a recent Hidden Tribes study broke down the political "tribes" in which many find themselves in:

  • Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
  • Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
  • Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
  • Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
  • Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
  • Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
  • Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
    Patriotic.

Understanding these different viewpoints and the hidden tribes we may belong to will be essential in having conversations with those we disagree with. This might just come to a head when it's Thanksgiving and you have a mix of many different personalities, ages, and viewpoints.

It's interesting to note the authors found that:

"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."

You'll find that depending on what group you identify with, that nearly 100 percent of the time you'll believe in the same way the rest of your group constituents do.

Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:

  • 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
  • 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
  • 51% of Democrats support a law that requires Americans use transgender people's preferred gender pronouns.
  • 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
  • 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
  • 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.

Understanding the fact that tribal membership indicates what you believe, can help you return to the fundamentals for proper political engagement

Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:

  • Avoid logical fallacies. Essentially at the core, a logical fallacy is anything that detracts from the debate and seeks to attack the person rather than the idea and stray from the topic at hand.
  • Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
  • Have the idea that there is nothing out of bounds for inquiry or conversation once you get down to an even stronger or new perspective of whatever you were discussing.
  • Keep in mind the maxim of : Do not listen with the intent to reply. But with the intent to understand.
  • We're not trying to proselytize nor shout others down with our rhetoric, but come to understand one another again.
  • If we're tied too closely to some in-group we no longer become an individual but a clone of someone else's ideology.

Civic discourse in the divisive age

Debate and civic discourse is inherently messy. Add into the mix an ignorance of history, rabid politicization and debased political discourse, you can see that it will be very difficult in mending this discursive staple of a functional civilization.

There is still hope that this great divide can be mended, because it has to be. The Hidden Tribes authors at one point state:

"In the era of social media and partisan news outlets, America's differences have become
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.


Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."

We need to start teaching people how to approach subjects from less of an emotional or baseless educational bias or identity, especially in the event that the subject matter could be construed to be controversial or uncomfortable.

This will be the beginning of a new era of understanding, inclusion and the defeat of regressive philosophies that threaten the core of our nation and civilization.