Foundation. Love is the foundation of my spiritual quest. My spiritual quest is not about finding god. I don't believe in god. God's just an abstraction, an empty idea humans made up. The spiritual quest is a real thing. It's the only reason to go on living. The spiritual quest isn't about getting somewhere. It's about being here, where I already am. The spiritual quest itself is the reason to go on living, the one thing that gives life meaning, as Alan Watts says in What happens if you stop talking to yourself? Love of others is a glorious illusion that's there to tempt us to find ourselves. Loving other people gives us an irresistibly tantalizing taste of the real thing. We all long to be conquered by love. But love conquers few. In love of others every silver lining always seems to have a cloud. Don't just read the words, play the song.
The real thing is making the spiritual quest my life. Telling this story is a crucial element in my spiritual quest.
Love is my teacher. For making progress with love, what better teacher than love herself? Leela doesn't just mean the world to me, she is the world. She is the universe, everything that exists and everything important that doesn't. Like trust. Unlike human teachers, Leela will never betray me. I need to remember that because love is a relentlessly demanding teacher. She has asked me to do the impossible, again and again. I learned muscle testing and body sensing as I was growing up, so it's not that hard for me to grasp that for me love is personified in my body. If I can sense my body's willingness, my body's eagerness to do something my mind says is impossible, guess who wins? I learned to distrust everything I think I know long ago.
The disappointment of falling in love. Alison Krauss's lovely sad song evokes love's disappointment so well. Falling in love is glorious. We can try our damnedest to make it stay but it always goes away. Hordes of supposedly wise people will assure you that's not true, you can keep your love, renew it, breathe new life back into it yadda yadda yadda. You don't have to be brutally honest with yourself to see through that song and dance. It's plain to see: love fades. We all know it. Falling out of love is completely predictable: we start to fall out of love as soon as we're forced to spend time together. As soon as we're together for any other reason than the desire to be together. Moving in together or, god forbid, getting married will always precipitate it, but it happens without, e.g. because we always have a date on Saturday night. Habitual togetherness spells the doom of love. What used to be charming becomes annoying and it's all downhill from there. Love needs lots of space to grow. We need to wait until we're BOTH eager to be together again. But we don't. The needier one drives the doom.
Love starts with my body. My body is the only tool I have for the spiritual quest, for making progress with love. I had to stop harming my body before it became a useful tool for that work. I had to stop damaging it with booze, drugs, and mediocre food. I had to start giving it plenty of of the right kind exercise. I had to make all the right choices for me and none of the wrong ones. To do that I had to pay close attention to body sensations, letting my body guide me to what it wanted, because my brain is clueless in these matters. I had little tastes along the way, but I didn't start making significant progress with love until I surrendered to my body's inherent wisdom in all those areas.
Ongoing. Meditation is an ongoing course in loving. When I meditate I exercise my love; I make it stronger. I can feel its strength growing. If I put conditions on the world, like "I'll love the world when there's true racial equality," or "I can't love a world where corporations control the economy and exploit workers," I end up without love. This is the only world there is, and it won't change to meet my unrealistic conditions. I can't love everything about the world, so I focus on what I do love. Meditation is working to love the things I do love better and learning to love the world as it is.
Love in the time of covid. The pandemic came at just the right time for me. It deprived me of dance, which I have relied on for all human contact since I left my marriage in 2008. I broke up with my long term sweetheart right before the pandemic hit, so I got a double dose of being alone. That threw me back onto the physical basics of making progress. Those all became love's way of teaching me. I had just broken free of booze and addiction, so I focused on the other basics: exercise, diet, and meditation. In all three areas, love patiently taught me how to make progress. I got to feeling desperately sad and lonely as that first summer of the pandemic wore on. That's what stirred me to start writing these stories. Writing about my life helped me remember all the good training I've had over the years. I was able to recognize the sadness I was feeling as an emotion, not a feeling. Emotions are mental creations. I have power over them if I choose to exercise it. I came to see I was inflicting sadness and loneliness on myself. I'm the one in charge. Since then I've slowly turned all that around. I don't need a sweetheart to complete me. I'm a complete human in myself. Aloneness is not the same as loneliness.