The Awakening Moment – Learning How to Love

“The most important thing in this world is to
learn to give out love,and let it come in.”

~ Morrie Schwartz

Press play to hear an audio enhancement as you read.


The Beatles sang, “All You Need is Love.” Were they right?

Khalil Gibran wrote that “Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit.”

That’s a poetic reminder of how important love is. But, realistically, we need more than a fruiting tree and loving sentiments to survive and thrive. Don’t we?

Perhaps what we really need is an expanded understanding of what love is. For any of us who’ve enjoyed pop music over the years, it’s difficult to hear or read the words “the power of love” without recalling that song by Huey Lewis and the News. Surprisingly, his lyrics actually illuminate our topic.

Lewis sang, “Change a hawk to a little white dove… more than a feeling, that’s the power of love.”

In other words, love is transformative. Love is alchemical. Love changes us.

If you google “love,” 99% of what shows up relates to romantic love. Some acknowledge there is more to love than that… but they don’t elaborate. So let’s do that here.

First, here’s a comment that confirms my point about traditional definitions of love. This comes from a blog credited to South University.

“According to the triangular theory of love developed by psychologist Robert Sternberg, the three components of love are intimacy, passion, and commitment. Intimacy encompasses feelings of attachment, closeness, connectedness, and bondedness. Passion encompasses drives connected to both limerance and sexual attraction. Commitment encompasses, in the short term, the decision to remain with another, and in the long term, the shared achievements and plans made with that other person.” 1

This seems to be a clear and thorough articulation of key components in romantic love. It’s interesting to apply Sternberg’s triangular theory to an expanded definition that I propose, namely, that love is the power that runs creation. That’s just a bit of an upgrade in our understanding!

Love is the power that beats our hearts and steers the stars, as I like to say. You can use a different word if you prefer, like God or spirit or life force. I like love. By whatever name, “it” connects us all and when I say “all” I mean everyone and everything. So, if we embrace this expanded definition, then Sternberg’s “intimacy, passion, and commitment” model also seems to apply to our relationship with Love, capital L.

I wrote a book last year about learning how to love. I believe this is our “major” here in the University of Earth. So, how would we grade ourselves in this subject?

Here’s a 21st century reality check:
– There’s no intimacy to hiding within gated communities, separated and afraid of the village around us – full of people different than us.
– There’s no passion when religion replaces spirituality with rules instead of authentic worship.
– Where’s commitment when our allegiance swings from one addictive intoxicant to another?

Love, the expanded love we’re describing, gets so easily forgotten. So, how can we develop that relationship?

Think of a romantic relationship you’ve enjoyed or are enjoying right now. That feeling of love, flowing back and forth, it’s wonderful! In fact, we can reference another song to remind us again of our expanded definition: “Love makes the world go round.”

Here’s some practical guidance from the same post I quoted from above, a comment attributed to “Elizabeth Kane, a South University adjunct faculty member who teaches clinical psychology and behavioral science. ‘To be romantic is to make a choice to wake up each day and ask yourself what you can do today to let your lover know they are adored,’ Kane says.

“’Have fun in your romance and remember that the more effort you put into your romantic relationship, the more love you will receive in return. Be the partner that you seek and live a life filled with passion and romance.’” 2

Imagine applying that same strategy to our connection with Big Love. “… what you can do today to let your lover know they are adored?” Prayer comes to mind, meditation, and mindfulness, living in this relationship with Love as our primary one.

This doesn’t require us to downgrade our human relationships. In fact, personal connections infused with Big Love are stronger. There’s a stability inherent in them that helps us navigate the inevitable personality wars.

What if we lived in adoration then, with intimacy, passion, and commitment as the key components of our operating system? Imagine a world where we loved each other from that high place, loving not just personal qualities but also the innate presence of Love, the universal power of love, translated so uniquely within each individual human being.

If we were able to learn to love that way, then the Beatles would be right. Love is all you need … when we’ve awakened to the real thing.


The Awakening Moment – Horses Will Drink

“You cannot train a horse with shouts
and expect it to obey a whisper.”

~ Dagobert D. Runes

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They say that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. But, some horses do drink. What makes the difference?

There’s a funny story about a boy scout returning to headquarters, his lip bleeding and his uniform in disarray. “What happened?” asked the scout master.

“I just helped an old lady cross the street,” the youngster replied.

“But what happened to you?”

“She didn’t want to go!”

If we could pinpoint one frustration that interferes with our personal evolution and enjoyment of a meaningful life it would be our insistence on trying to change others.

This reminds me of an Ashley Brilliant cartoon of many years ago: “The fact that I have accepted you as you are doesn’t mean that I’ve given up hope you might still change.” That’s funny but also true for many people who tacitly accept each other but secretly wish they would behave differently (and believe more like they do).

In the last post, I introduced the idea of “the awakening moment” and emphasized how suffering can only be relieved by examining the cause: the experience of illusory separation that produces conflict.

So, how can we accept our differences? It’s natural to provide guidance for children as they mature into being able to take responsibility for themselves, but how do we treat other adults? Do we assume that we know how they should be?

Of course, common sense tells us that we shouldn’t give a flame thrower to a pyromaniac! And some rules and regulations are essential. In this country, we agree to drive on the right side of the road. That’s not an imposition on personal freedom, it’s simply a necessary rule.

But what do we do when someone fails to follow the rules, especially when they hurt others? We punish them. Is that working?

Writing for Psychology Today, Michael Karson, Ph.D., says: “Punishment does not change the tendency to engage in the behavior that was punished. Instead, it makes the person want to avoid the source of punishment.” 1

He goes on to describe how a punished child will continue their errant behavior… they’ll just do it when their parents aren’t around. This breeds a false assumption that our actions don’t have consequences unless others are aware of them. A husband can cheat on his wife, an accountant can fudge the numbers, a government can mis-report war casualties, etc.

“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” may be a successful market term but it’s patently false. Everything we do creates consequences, whether anyone else knows about it or not.

If secrecy is an illusion and punishment doesn’t work, where does that leave us relative to positive change? After all, “personal improvement” has become a billion dollar industry. We want to change! Some horses do drink. Some people do change. What works this miracle? In a word, education.

I wrote about my experience in a 2008 terrorist attack. The murderers who attacked me and my friends had been trained, indoctrinated, educated in a hateful paradigm from early age, and then compelled to carry out their deadly mission. All but one was killed by the Indian SWAT teams. The lone survivor was executed years later. By then, he had come to his senses and expressed regret for his actions. He realized that he’d been manipulated by faceless puppet masters behind the scenes.

Since then, terrorist acts have exploded all over the world. Could we ever manage the courage to step back, examine this trend, and honestly address the failure of our response, which focuses on punishment?

So, what might one do about terrorists, then? Education. Until there’s an alternative to what is being taught, what choice does a person have? If there’s only one source of water… they will drink there.

If we pull our heads out of the sand for a few minutes and look at the world around us we can witness catastrophes of all kinds happening at an escalating rate. We can point to war, climate change, etc. but what is really happening?

The results of our choices are showing up and we seem to be nearing the experience of “instant karma,” which refers to the immediate awareness of repercussions arising from those choices.

If our choices are delusional, born out of the chronic condition of separation I wrote about in the last post, we will continue to take sides against each other and maintain the suffering that results. But we could make different choices. We could model something different.

Imagine, if we personally demonstrated appreciation for each other, differences and all, if we let go of our addiction to trying to change others… what might that affect in our immediate relationships? What education would that provide, especially if we made it obvious that this sort freedom from coercion is enjoyable!

Life is sending us powerful messages right now. If we’re getting them, then we’re awakening to a new world of personal responsibility. Whether others know our thoughts and deeds is less important than the fact that we know them. That’s motivation enough for any person of integrity.

As the old saying goes, “To thine own self be true.” Perhaps that’s the real answer to constructive change, to simply be true to oneself and respect that others will do the same.