The Love Models

The Extinction Models   |  The Equanimity Models

On a completely different note, there are the love models. These are hard to relate to any previous category except perhaps the emotional models, but they essentially involve some combination of us loving everyone, feeling love all the time, becoming Love itself, being loved by everyone, or some combination of these. The first two are commonly found in various references, such as Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj’s famous quotation, “Wisdom tells me I am nothing. Love tells me I am everything. Between these two my life flows.”

This is not a bad quotation as quotations go, because it highlights the apparent paradoxes of spiritual understanding. It is basically a restatement of the concepts of balancing the understanding of wisdom and method, emptiness and compassion, and I like it for this reason. However, lots of people think that awakened beings will be radiating love all the time, walking around saying loving things, feeling profound love for all beings at all times, and the like. Unfortunately, things couldn’t be further from the truth. While it does get sometimes easier to take the broader world of beings into consideration once the centerpoint is seen through, this is very different from walking around in a state of continuous love.

Plenty of people also imagine that if they get enlightened then all their romantic problems will be solved, that their love life will be perfect, that they will live in some enlightened state of marital or partnership bliss, since they will have it all together and so be able to handle any of the problems that being in a relationship can bring. Ask any honest spouse about their “enlightened” partner and see what they say. As far as I know, none would advocate for the veracity of this model, unfortunately. Can realization that has sunk deep and had time to mature help with some aspects of relationships? Definitely. Can plenty of other things also help, like marital therapy, consciously working to acquire mature coping mechanisms, listening well, basic emotional intelligence, cognitive behavioral therapy, and the like? Definitely. Is realization on its own a substitute for all those other things? I don’t think so.

More sinister, intractable, rarely articulated, and yet compelling is the notion that we will get enlightened and then people will not only like us, they will love us. Wow, does this dream not withstand reality testing! Take the history of any of the perennial favorite spiritual superheroes, such as the Buddha, Jesus Christ, St. John of the Cross, Rumi, etc., and notice the reactions most people had to them. The idea that somehow you will be embraced, accepted, appreciated, respected, adored, cared for, or even liked by anyone just because of your realization is, tragically, just another beautiful, delusional dream. In short, think twice before quitting your day job or walking down the street in your guru outfit proclaiming your realization for all to love.

Okay, you might say, the unawakened might not necessarily like us, but of course, when we are awakened, we will at least get along with other awakened beings, yes? Wow, wouldn’t that be nice. I know someone whose primary reason for trying to get awakened revolved around the notion that it would get him the perfect loving relationship with his awakened partner, which, not surprisingly, didn’t work out. Unfortunately, it seems just as likely that awakened beings will get into arguments with each other as with other people, particularly around topics that are often dear to their hearts, such as awakening. Ah, the strange ironies of life.

As no two awakened beings look the same, believe the same things, have the same way of describing their realization, or use terms the same way, communication difficulties, including arguments and not getting along, are common enough. Were that it were otherwise, that awakened beings would at least respect each other, but there are no guarantees in this business, as we are highly tribal mammals with strong territory-defense instincts, which often kick in to defend the territory-less territory of awakening. In fact, awakened beings in the wild often display dominating alpha traits that seem the exact antithesis of what the love models promise.

Now, it is true that you can borrow a lot of pre-programmed respect from some people just by getting ordained, which, viewed another way, means that ordination might get you the respect that your realization should provide, in some idealized universe. However, this will be to a strangely select audience, and the games you must participate in to be a part of that group are significant. [I do not in any way mean this statement as a broad indictment of monastic life, as my own practice is directly dependent on the practices and realizations of a great chain of wise beings who gained realization through the many opportunities and benefits presented by authentic monasticism.] You can also get a lot of respect by getting on some senior teacher list, but there are subtle forces that then come to bear that may tempt you into denying a lot of your own humanity when in public, thus leading to the shadow sides I mentioned previously. These points also hint at the social models that will follow in a bit.

The Extinction Models   |  The Equanimity Models