Love is something we do. It’s active, it’s action, it’s process, not product. Don’t wait around for love! Be love, do love, fiercely. Love is not fuzzy, it’s not packaged, it’s not pink, it’s as red as blood, it’s life itself, and it’s not for sale. Occupy Love!
It’s that time of year again ~ love is in the air. Or at least in the shop windows. A day to celebrate love is certainly a great idea. Too often love is neglected, forgotten, or misunderstood. As with everything these days, Valentines Day has become yet another opportunity to turn the sacred into a product. But if there is one that cannot be sold, it’s love. The moment it becomes a commodity, it is no longer love.
So let’s Occupy Valentines Day – and every day – with Love. True love. That fierce love, the love that is justice, the love that is compassionate, passionate, alive. The love that recognizes that all things are connected.
But just what do we mean by that word love? In the last few years of shooting Occupy Love, I’ve asked many people to explain it to me. Almost every answer has been different, and yet they all work together. That shows just how big love is. There are many kinds of love – from the love between lovers, to the love between molecules that binds them together and enables matter to exist. From the love between the stars, to the love between humanity and the planet. The love from our hearts to the source of creation itself. To the compassionate love that compels us to create a world that works for everyone, a world that works for all life. Love is the current than runs through everything. Love connects the dots.
Most of the time, when I’m writing about love, I’m talking about the larger love, the universal love. But personal love is also a refraction of this great love, the love that is the creative source itself. When individuals fully connected to the source of love come together as whole beings, true intimate love becomes possible. A love beyond insufficiency and dependency, beyond all the many pitfalls on the path to romantic love.
Our society doesn’t offer us great role models – too often, romantic love is depicted as yet another dreary commercial transaction. I’ll give you this, if you give me that. Possession, ownership, control, fear, none of this is a part of true love. True love is not a transaction – it’s a relationship. It’s a process. It’s ever evolving, it’s ever deepening, it is always calling us to evolution, to authenticity, to liberation. True Love wants what’s best for the other, always. For we are bound together in a beautiful web of mutuality.
Today my love, Nova Ami, and I, announced our engagement. Our love is ever evolving, and we have decided to publicly declare our commitment to each other. Not as a transaction, not as a statement of ownership, but as a declaration that we want to journey through life together, through love together, as deeply as possible. With the support and witnessing of our community.
Nova loves to joke that when I started this film I was Mr. Love. By the time I’m finished, she says, I’ll be Doctor Love. If I do make it to that place, where I can truly embody the love I am, moment to moment to moment, it will be thanks in no small part to her incredible love. She offers me the greatest gift I have ever received – unconditional love. Nothing is more spacious, nothing gives me greater strength, nothing is more empowering, than this. Yes, love is always there within me, but to receive that constant reminder from another, who mirrors and reflects that love back to me, is incredibly expansive. At the same time, her love is completely grounding, supportive – a practical rapture. And I offer her unconditional love too. It is as natural and effortless as breathing.
We made this video together, our first creative collaboration, to celebrate and to share our love. We wove our personal love story together with the great love story of life itself, through the words of our friend and spiritual teacher, Hawaain Native elder, Kumu Raylene. She teaches that all life is love. “The essence of one being, or one creation, is love. Through our experiences of life, it at times can be buried deep within. But it is within. It is not something outside of ourselves. It is not something outside of anyone or any thing. It’s a part of who we are, always has been.”
This understanding helps a great deal – because we can stop looking for love. It can never be lost. So relax! When you recognize that love is the ground of being, everything becomes much less laborious. There is a spaciousness that emerges. More than just a thought, you can feel into this, open into this realization. Roshi Joan Halifax told me that, “being awake, is love.” To be truly present, to show up, to be mindful, to be here, fully – that’s love. To let go attachment, and delusion, to participate in each moment, moment to moment, that’s love.
My dear friend and spiritual activist, James O’Dea, formerly of Amnesty International and the Institute of Noetic Sciences (a potent combination, which shows you the breadth of James himself!) compared love to a keyboard, that has all the ranges – from the deep difficult low frequencies, that can very sad, connected to the vast oceans of suffering that we all will experience as part of life on planet earth, all the way up to the high, ecstatic frequencies.
James emphasized the schizophrenic split that we so often experience, between the head and the heart: “the head is a poor master, but an excellent servant, and the heart is a poor servant, but an excellent master. And that’s probably BS, because we’re past masters and servants. It’s time to end that game, and move towards the integral moment, where we have the loving mind, and the thinking heart.”
In this rushing world of endless distraction, there is much to block love. Like the sun going behind the clouds, it is never gone. It is always there, we just need to remember. Re-connect. Re-awaken. Love is a process, as is awakening. The moment we try to possess any realization, any state, and stage of awakening, it slips away from our grasp. For grasping itself is not-love. Spaciousness is love. Trust is love. Letting go is love. Letting go of what? Fear, attachment, anger, hatred, delusion- let them go.
Breathe love. Every breath can connect us with the ground of being. Occupy love, moment to moment to moment. Not in the past, not in the future – right now. But just Being is not enough. It’s easy to get comfortable, to want to stay in that perfect state of bliss, but love is a verb. It calls you to action – loving action.
Love has infinite arms to embrace the suffering of this world. Compassion calls us to action. Love in action is a great, limitless source of meaning. It doesn’t have to be something big – a billion small actions can mean a whole world of change. Of course, if you are a big dreamer, go for it, dream big! But if your gift is something small- do it well, do it honestly, do it truly and in the law of inter-being, you will be doing all actions.
Angaanaaq, a Shaman from Greenland, warned me, “to never fall in love. Because everything that falls, even the leaves, will eventually hit the ground. Instead, we can become love itself. What kind of love? Unconditional love.”
Rather than falling, how about we rise in love. Rise into unconditional love. Why settle for anything less? The unconditioned heart/mind is the primordial state, that essential being that we all are, beyond the filtering, beyond the cultural smokescreen that buries the deeper truths. It’s time to reclaim love! Let us support each other, always, with presence, with mindfulness, with full connection, recognizing and celebrating our interdependence. May the whole world rise in love. The time is now!