Finding integrated meaning in our lives

I’ve called this blog Love and Harmony because  I have come to realize that Love and Harmony are the two ultimate principles of human life that subsume all others.  I believe that living a life according to the ultimate principles of Love and Harmony can lead you to a place of spiritual fulfillment and physical health, happiness and longevity.  Let me try to explain why.

You are not just your mind.  You are not just your body.  You are a mind/body organism, and what your mind/body organism truly desires is a sense of abiding happiness and health, for as long as it can enjoy that blessed experience.

I believe that the ultimate well-being of your organism can be best achieved through pursuing a path of Love and Harmony.

So at this point, it might be helpful to describe more precisely what I mean by Love and Harmony.

Let’s begin with Love.  I’m not talking about the kind of love that sells all those Hallmark cards (although there’s certainly nothing wrong with that kind of love and it does fit into the overall definition.)  I’m not even talking about that beautiful selfless love that a mother or father might hold for their child, even though that also has a well-deserved place in the definition.

I’m talking about loving your self.  Loving your self unconditionally.

“But wait a minute,” I hear you saying.  “How can that be so good?  Isn’t that being selfish?  Self-centered?  I thought we were meant to love others, not ourselves.”

It all begins with loving your self.  And loving your self unconditionally.  Not loving yourself because of something you achieved.  Not loving yourself because you look good, or because you did something that made you popular.  Not even loving yourself because you are a good, ethical, honorable person.  Those are all conditions of love.  One day you might achieve those conditions.  Another day you might not.  And if your love of your self is conditional, then as soon as you don’t live up to your own standards, then there goes your love.

Loving your self unconditionally means realizing that every single part of you – the “good,” the “bad,” the “strong,” the “weak,” are all parts of your organism that have arisen because at some point in your life, that was what you – as an organism – needed to be in order to survive and to try to thrive.  That doesn’t mean it’s OK to become complacent or self-satisfied about who you are.  That’s where intention plays a big part – but that’s a subject for another blog post.

Loving yourself unconditionally permits the barriers within yourself to disappear.

It’s only when you love your self unconditionally that the barriers within your self disappear.  Those are the blockages that normally prevent the energy flows of your love from gushing fully.  And when that love flows within you unblocked, it creates a hormonal context in your brain/mind that permits the love to overflow from your self and to be offered freely to all beings around you.  Then, before you know it, without even trying, you are able to feel that same unconditional love for those around you.  You’re able to see that their conditioned behaviors – those things that normally drive you crazy about them – are also the very best that their organism has arrived at in its own lifelong struggle for health and happiness.  And when you see the limitations they’ve arrived at, you are able to offer unforced and authentic compassion for their struggles and their efforts.

This is a love that is defined by connectivity.  It is a love that arises when you are truly connected within your self, and that permits you to connect with the intrinsic being of others around you.  It is a love that – by dissolving the barriers of your self – permits you to feel your natural connectedness with all other beings, with the natural world around you, with every living entity that surrounds you.

This is a love which is the source of meaning.  Because meaning is derived from connectivity.  In fact, as I shall discuss in a future blog post, it’s not overstating the case to say that love is meaning.  And that universal or unconditional love is the meaning of the universe.

But in this post, I’m just trying to stick with definitions.  There will be plenty of other opportunities to explain some of these statements – which might appear at first a little far-fetched – in a lot more detail.  It’s time, now, to turn to Harmony.

There are several traditions that point to unconditional love as the ultimate and most important principle of a spiritual life.  But that is only half the story.  Because our lives – and the lives of all entities in this world – consist of more than love.  They also consist of Energy.

Love and Energy are the two ultimate constituents of the universe.  If love derives from connectivity, then energy is the stuff that the love connects.  You can’t have connectivity unless it is connecting something.  Just like sound waves can’t travel in a vacuum because they have no air in which to create their waves, so love needs energy in order to manifest itself.  When I say Energy, I’m referring to energy as Einstein described it when he wrote his famous equation that e=mc2.  Energy is a function of matter.  Energy and matter are inseparable.  Energy is what we are all composed of.  You, me, the sun, that rock, the water, the air, and everything else.  Every atom, every molecule.

And there is a certain type of energy flow that has self-organized into life.  Each cell within our bodies is a self-organized mass of swirling energy that maintains itself using a natural form of intelligence known as animate intelligence.  And each one of those billions of cells connects with others, to form organs, blood flow, a nervous system, and all the other miraculous complexities that coalesce to make you and me into the mind/body organism known as a human being.

Starlings flocking: an example of the self-organized creativity that is the basis for all life on the earth.

When I’m talking about Harmony, I’m talking about the harmonizing of these unbelievably complex, exquisite, self-sustaining, resilient, flexible and miraculous energy flows that keep us all alive.  They are, in fact, part of a system of self-sustaining energy flows that keep everything else alive too.  It’s an astonishing process that’s been going on now for about four billion years in this beautiful cradle we call the Earth.  And when you and I die, those energy flows will keep going.  For billions of years more.

When I’m talking about Harmony, I’m talking about harmony within that mind-boggling complex system called your own mind/body organism.  And harmony between your organism and all those other organisms – both human and non-human – around you.

And it’s important to understand that Harmony doesn’t necessarily mean calm serenity.  Harmonizing these energy flows means permitting your own organism to respond to its own internal drives and to the inputs it receives from the outside world in the manner that is most beneficial at that moment in time for your organism.  If you’re in the middle of a game of tennis, harmony might mean smashing the ball with all your power into the court of your opponent.  If you’re driving on a freeway and someone starts pulling into your lane by accident, harmony might involve an immediate adrenaline rush followed by swerving slightly to avoid an accident.  If you’re dancing with your friends on a Saturday night, harmony might mean letting your body go wild in ecstasy.  And if you’re having a heated argument with your spouse who just said something really unfair to you, harmony might mean letting your anger express itself forcefully, as long as it done with skill and compassion.

But harmony can, of course, also mean calm, measured, internal modulation of energy.  And it’s something that can be learned.  Something that our civilization tends to ignore, but which other traditional cultures have developed techniques for managing and optimizing.  In particular, the Chinese tradition has evolved practices over thousands of years to get in touch with that internal energy and to harmonize its flows.

So how do Love and Harmony relate to each other?  Here’s one way to think about it.  In other non-human organisms, harmony is the natural state of affairs.  But we humans have a way of letting our thoughts, worries and mind-constructions disrupt that harmony.  Fortunately for us, we also have a unique capability to love, arising from our minds’ unique capacity for self-awareness.  When that unconditional love is applied to energy, harmony has the potential to arise.  But our bodies are made up of layers upon layers of energetic and muscular blockages that have accreted within us through all the years of our conditioned existence.  And that’s why Love alone – even if it’s unconditional – is not enough to recreate those harmonious energy flows.  We need to learn harmonious action and unlearn a lot of disharmony first.

And for our mind/body organisms to be truly happy and fulfilled, they need both the Love and the Harmony.  Achieving one without the other is certainly a good start.  It’s nothing to sniff at.  But for a fully integrated, long and happy life, filled with meaning and health, you need both.  Love and Harmony.  And that’s what this blog is about.

[Next post: Intention – the beginning of the spiritual path]

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