Love is absolutely necessary if we ever expect to get full realization
A talk by Lester Levenson
Given in California on February 25, 1965
I thought tonight I might talk on the subject of love. Love is one word I seldom use, mainly because it’s so misunderstood. And I also believe that only through growth do we understand what love is, that by defining it we just add some more words to the usual words and it doesn’t really convey the meaning of the word, love. But love is an absolutely necessary ingredient on the path. If we ever expect to get full realization, we must increase our love until it is complete.
Now, the love I talk about, of course, has nothing to do with sex. Sex is a bodily gratification. However, most of us have confused it—most of us very much—with love. And the majority of us still tie it in with love, although when you see what sex is and what love is, you’ll see there are two different things. They can be tied together, and they don’t have to be. The love that we talk about here is the love of Jesus Christ. It’s the love complete, which expressed in the extreme is: Love thy enemy.
I think the best definition of the word, as it seems to me, is: Love is a feeling-ness of giving-ness with no expectation of receiving for the giving. It’s a very free giving. And it’s an attitude that is constant: love doesn’t vary, at least the type of love we’re talking about. The amount we have, we apply to everyone. We love our family as much as we love strangers. This might sound odd, but this is the truth. To the degree we’re capable of loving strangers, to that degree we’re capable of loving our family.
There are in this life two kinds of certainty of eternal life. One is when God tells a man Himself or through an angel or shows him by a special illumination. This happens seldom and to few. The other kind of knowledge is incomparably better, and this often comes to people who have perfect love. It is when a man’s love and intimacy with God are such that he has such perfect trust and security in Him that he cannot doubt and is thus quite assured, loving Him without distinction in all creatures. And even if all creatures rejected him and forswore him, though God Himself rejected him, he would not lose his faith, for love cannot lose faith but always trusts in the good. – Meister Eckhart, “The Talks of Instruction”
The concept of possession is just the opposite of the meaning of love. In love there is never a holding on to, a fencing in, or anything like that. Love has a sense of freeing the ones we love; when we are giving, an attitude that we want the other one to have what the other one wants. I guess the best example of this type of love is the love of a mother or father for a child. A mother will sacrifice and give everything to the child without considering herself.
There are many other definitions for love—I’m just trying to think what they are. I think acceptance is a good word. When we love people, we accept them the way they are. If we love this world, we accept the world the way it is. We don’t try to change it. We let it be. We grant the world its beingness the same way we should grant every other person his or her beingness. Let them be the way they want to be. Never try to change them. Trying to change them is injecting our own ego—we want them to be the way we would like them to be.
So, love is a feeling, first of all, of oneness with, of identity with the other, or all others. When there is a full love, you feel yourself as the other person. Treating the other person is just like treating your very own self. There’s complete identity.
Love is the most powerful force in the universe
Love is not only a feeling: love is a tremendous power, which is so little understood in the world today. We have an example of this type of love being expressed today by Martin Luther King. No matter how much he’s attacked, he will give out nothing but love to his attacker. He teaches non-violence. Now, the biggest demonstration of this type of love was Mahatma Ghandi’s winning a war against Britain without any arms, through teaching: “The British are our brothers; we love the British. Nonviolent resistance to the British and to the British soldiers—only love for them.” Ghandi understood this and was able to win over enough followers in India to make this effective.
The power behind love, without question, is far more powerful than the hydrogen bomb, once you see what love is. Love is the most powerful force in the universe, when we express love as love is, not as we have been taught to think what love is. It is said sometimes that God is love, and I say one with God is a majority. One individual with nothing but love can stand up against the entire world because this love is so powerful. Which I think leads us into seeing that this love is nothing but the Self with a capital ‘S’. This love is God, and God is love, and God is all-powerful. So there’s some authority for what I’m saying besides my saying it. Love will give not only all the power in the universe, it will give all the joy and all the knowledge.
Now, how to make this practical? The best way of increasing our capacity to love is through wisdom, understanding. However, we can do things in our everyday life that will raise our level of love. The first place to practice love is at home with the family. We should try to love our family more and more and more. I think everyone knows the wonderful experience of love, and loving one person. So you can imagine what it’s like if you loved three billion people—it would be three billion times more enjoyable. So, home is the first place to keep trying to increase our love for the ones around us, by granting them their beingness. That’s the most difficult thing, I believe, to do in a family—to grant others their beingness, especially if the other one is a child. But every child is a whole, complete, infinite individual.
Next, after loving the ones in our home, we should try to love our neighbors. Then our larger group—our state, our country. Then we should try to love all people, all over the world—even Russians. And I heard Oral Roberts say something on that some Sundays ago. He said, “People ask, what would Jesus be like if he came back today?” He said, “Jesus wouldn’t be the way people expect. He wouldn’t have anything against anyone. He wouldn’t hate the communists. He would talk against doing wrong, doing evil, but he would never say anything against any human being.” I believe that if we understood the power of love, that if the majority of Americans loved the Russians, Russia would be conquered by the Americans without any arms. And after we learn to love all the people in this world, there are many more people outside of this world. I think loving all the people in this world would allow us to meet with our brothers and sisters of other worlds, because in this universe there are many, many mansions; many, many places of abode. And because of our incapacity to love on this planet, we have cut them off.
So, to come back to that point of being practical, the more we practice love, the more we love; and the more we love, the more we can practice love. The more we develop love, the more we come in touch with the harmony of the universe; the more delightful our life becomes, the more bountiful, the more everything. It starts a cycle going where you spin upwards, this loving and receiving.
That’s another thing: if we want to be loved, the way to do it is to love. It’s not only the very best method, but it’s the only method of receiving love, is to love, because what we give out must come back. But looking for love without loving does not bring love to us, does not satisfy us. The happy one is the one loving, the one giving. Blessed is the giver, because he’s so much happier—if he gives from his heart. Are there any questions on this concept of love?
(16:31) I think before that, though, I’m reminded of another point. When we say we love one person more than another, if we will trace it through by going inwardly, we will find that the one that we love more is a person that we think we need, that has something that we would like to have, and therefore we say we love that person more. Actually, love cannot be chopped up. If you want to test your own love, look at your enemies—this is the real test. Or, if you don’t want to go that far, look at strangers; examine your attitude towards strangers. It should be one of, “Well, they are me. They are my family.” Every mother should be our mother. Every father should be our father. Every child should be our child. This is the attitude we achieve through understanding. This is the real sense of the word love.
(18:26) Question: Lester, it seems to me that you’re talking about love as giving—giving of yourself and so forth. It seems like as you give of yourself, that people tend to take more and more, and eventually it seems like they can, if you don’t put a stop to it, they bleed you dry emotionally, mentally, financially, and they use you as a crutch.
Lester: Paul, I say no, that’s impossible if we feel the real love. If we have the correct attitude of love that doesn’t happen.
Paul: The impression I get is that to other people love is a sign of weakness, perhaps. It seems there’s a loss of respect.
Lester: The giving-ness is not in things, number one. The giving-ness is an attitude. We can always maintain an attitude of love. Now, most people who give are not giving lovingly; they’re giving because of the credit they will get for giving—Look at me; I’m doing good. You see, that type of love will get us into trouble. People will drain us on that, because we’re looking to put ourselves up in the process, and therefore they’ll pull us down.
Question: Don’t you think though, it’s easier to love somebody 5,000 miles away than somebody next door to you? [laughter]
Lester: The easiest thing in the universe to do is to love everyone; this is what I think; this is what I’ve discovered. Once we learn what love is, that’s the easiest thing to do. It takes effort and agony not to love. It takes tremendous effort not to love everyone. And you see the effort being expended every day. But when we love, we’re at one with them, we’re at peace. Everything falls into line beautifully. Paul, the main thing is to see love in the sense that I’m trying to define it; then those things don’t happen. But when we love in the sense that humanity understands the word to mean, then you’re right. But I don’t call that love.
Paul: What do you call it?
Lester: Selfishness. We are doing things to help ourselves. And yet, in the high love, in the spiritual love, there is no self-abnegation. We don’t have to hurt ourselves when we love everyone, and we don’t. You see, in love there’s a feeling of mutuality. That which is mutual is correct. If you love, you hold to that law, and therefore people won’t take advantage of you. If you love, you’re applying the most powerful fore in the universe. But it’s the love of a Jesus I’m talking about.
(24:20) It’s a constant attitude that evolves in us when we try to develop it. However, we should try practicing the love, as I said before, first on our family. Grant everyone in the family their own beingness, if you can. If you can’t, keep trying; keep trying until you can. Then, apply it to friends, then strangers, then everyone. See, by doing this you will develop it. Although, as you say, it isn’t something you can turn on just like that.
Question: It’s just like beingness. All of us have it, but it’s just layered over by many attitudes.
Lester: It’s smothered by wrong attitudes. Now, this love I talk about is our basic nature. It’s a natural thing. That’s why it’s so easy. The opposite takes effort. We move away from our natural self, cover it, smother it with concepts of the opposite of love. And then, because we’re not loving, unloving comes back at us and proves to us the concepts like Paul brought out, which we all experience when we first start practicing this love. You’re not alone, Paul.
Question: Isn’t love almost like a selfishness? Because when you love somebody it’s such a wonderful feeling for you. I know when I love somebody, I feel so good.
Lester: It’s true, after you discover what love is. It’s the greatest thing in the universe. It’s a thing that everyone wants only because it’s our basic nature in the first place. Every human being is basically an extremely loving individual.
(26:53) Harry: Is it the same type of thing [as the stilling of desire] where your mind becomes still in one avenue of thought, of concentration, of acceptance of the other person, and therefore the mind is still . . .
Harry: . . . and your true nature comes through, which is the love, the feeling of love?
Lester: Yes. The more we love, the less we have to think. If I’m not loving you, I have to be on guard, I have to protect myself. If I’m not loving the world, I’m always protecting myself from the world, which causes more and more and more thoughts. It puts me extremely on the defensive, and subconsciously it builds up, year in and year out, and then I’m a mass of thoughts, protecting myself from the world. Now, if I love the world, the world can’t hurt me. My thoughts get quiet. The mind gets peaceful. And then that infinite Self is right there. And that’s the experience of this tremendous joy.
Harry: In other words, it’s not the object that brings this out; it’s the quieting of the mind that lets being come through. It really is the love experience, more than the object.
Lester: You’re taking it right from the top now. What Harry is saying is that we take our infinite beingness, our infinite joy, and we cover it over with thoughts. We take the natural state, which is unlimited, we cover it up with thoughts of limitation. The thoughts smother this infinite self that we are. It smothers the capacity to enjoy. And so all we need to do is to quiet the thoughts—or rid ourselves of all thoughts—and what’s left over is the infinite, glorious being that we are, which is our natural state. Isn’t that odd? It’s our natural state. That’s the way we were, that’s the way we’re going to be. We are actually that now, but we don’t see it. This infinite glorious being that we are, being absolutely perfect, can never change. It’s always there. We just don’t look at it. We look away from it; we look far away from it. What we should do is turn our mind inward and begin looking at it, and the more we look at It, with a capital ‘I’, the more we see It.
(30:40) Everything seems to point to the same direction, doesn’t it? That happens as we get more understanding of what life and the universe is. Everything fits together more and more, until it gets simpler and simpler, until there’s just one absolute simple, called God. God is simple, everything else is complex. The greater the complexity, the further we are from God. That’s why God is one, and only one, or one without a second.
Have I covered the subject of love?
[Comment to the effect that whatever is in someone else’s interest is in one’s own interest.]
(32:32) There’s a word for it today called togetherness. It’s a very good word. Doesn’t that fit what you’re saying? Togetherness. Together we see one and the same thing, we want the same thing. I think we’d be better off if we dropped the word, love: and used words like togetherness, oneness.
[Comment regarding trust, or the feeling that others cannot harm you.]
(34:50) Lester: It’s impossible to be hurt when we love fully. We are never hurt when we love. We only feel wonderful when we love. In fact, we feel the greatest when we love.
Bob: If we differentiate, though, if we feel a sense of togetherness with one person more than another, then we begin to separate ourselves.
Lester: It’s not full love; it’s partial love. And the more partial it is, the less good it feels. When we love all the time, we love every being. We have nothing but a tremendously wonderful warm attitude of “everything is fine; every person is just right.” We wear our rose-colored glasses. That’s the way we see the world when we love. When we hate, we see the same world in just the opposite way. So, it’s a tremendous thing to learn this little secret of the power of love.
(36:36) I just wonder if I shouldn’t read off some of the definitions in the book. There are so many ways it’s been said. I’ve got just five pages on it. I remember before this book came out, I said to Frances, “I never know what to say on love. There isn’t much you can say about it.” And she laughed at me and she showed me all this. But this was gathered over many, many talks. And I could see it’s an attempt to convey the concept of the real love by saying it in as many ways as possible.
Well, the first one, “Love is a feeling of giving-ness, with no thought of receiving any return for it.” That’s the one I started with.
“Love is giving with no strings attached.”
“Only by loving does love come to us. The more we love, the more love comes to us.” I know this is a basic error in many, many people’s thinking. They go through life wanting to be loved, never feeling that they are, even when they are really getting the love. Because the feeling has to be in us. If I love you, I feel wonderful. If you love me, you feel wonderful. As you said before, it’s the one who loves that feels great. So, wanting to be loved is getting into a direction that can never be satisfied.
“Love is a feeling, an attitude, and requires no action.” It requires no action. It might have action. You might give away everything you have, but it’s not necessarily so that you should or would give away everything. The main thing is the attitude.
Paul: Does a child love?
Lester: A child loves a little more than we do, but not too much more. Because a child comes into the world with attitudes developed over the millennia. A child is not a new thing at birth; it’s a sum total of the entire past. . . . (44:17) Shall I go on reading this thing?
“Love is Acceptance.”
“Love is taking people as they are.”
(44:31) “Love is loving the other one because the other one is the way the other one is.”
“Love is trust.” When we love people, we will always trust them. You can use these things as a check upon yourself. If you don’t trust someone, you don’t love them. Now, that’s not an easy one to see and I suggest you work that out yourself. If you don’t trust someone, you don’t love them. I say, trust the most crooked person in the world and that person will be honest with you.
“Love is a feelingness of peace.” As we said before, when we love, we have no enemies, we don’t have to be on guard, and we’re at ease.
(46:00) “Love is identification. It is being the other one by identifying with the other one.”
“Love is what every being is seeking through his every act.” That’s a powerful one.
[Lester is asked to go back to “Love is identification.”]
“Love is identification. It is being the other one by identifying with the other one.” You feel as though the other one is you. You identify with them.
Bob: What I was saying before, though, if I realize my beingness, and that only good can come to me, that I am in this sphere, in this love, and so on, then why is it necessary to identify with anyone?
Lester: If you’re in that sphere, you automatically identify with everyone. It goes together.
Question: Are we talking mainly here about physical bodies?
Lester: Well, when I say identify, you are me. When I know that, that’s identification complete. I also know your every thought and feeling, if you are me. That’s how complete the identification becomes. This actually happens.
(47:24) Bob: Put into practice, if Paul and I are after the same piece of real estate, for example, bidding against each other, my thought would have to be, or my feeling would have to be, it doesn’t really matter who gets it, because we’re one and the same.
Lester: No. [Your attitude should be that] Paul should have it.
(49:48) Paul: You know I think that point is really good about accepting people as they are and not by any virtue of anything. I guess the question I have is, what happens when these people have an effect on your life that to your way of thinking affects you adversely? Isn’t there room here for constructive criticism or pointing out the truth as you see it and still accepting them as they are? This is something I, just in the last few weeks, have done a great deal of thinking about. I think in the past I’ve accepted people for what they are. I’d say, Well as a human being, if I was raised like he was and taught like he was, I’d do exactly the same thing. But I guess I would say that I tolerate them perhaps more than accept them.
Paul: But I can’t appreciate them when they do something that affects me in an adverse manner.
Lester: Paul, we shouldn’t look upon them as human beings subject to error. If you saw the absolute truth, you’d see infinite, perfect beings. Now, I say this is the truth: everyone is an infinite perfect being. That when we see them otherwise, we’re not seeing the truth. So, you see what it does to your concept? I say you’re looking at them wrongly, and you’ll be hurt because of that.
Paul: But what happens if you see them as a perfect being, perfect in their own right and so forth, and yet something happens that, by appearances at least . . .
Lester: By appearances, yeah.
Paul: . . . it looks like it’s affecting you or your family adversely? Then, what do you have to say then? I’m just not seeing right, huh?
Lester: Change your view. Change your thought. Change something in you and it’ll change out there immediately. If you don’t like the world out there, you must change yourself. And immediately the world rightens, gets the way we want it to be.
(53:14) Paul: But isn’t all the so-called progress brought about by dissatisfaction with people or situations as they exist?
Lester: No, just the opposite. Dissatisfaction throws a monkey-wrench into the works. I just read one here: “Love is what every being is seeking through his every act.” If will trace through all your behavior, or the behavior of people, what are they looking for? They’re looking for love. That’s the ultimate. That’s the greatest of all progress is love. Our life is getting far too complex, and it’s not progress, because people are not happier today. I think that [how happy people are] is the proof of progress, . . . There’s more anxiety and dissatisfaction today than there ever was.
(2:21) To me, all these words mean the same thing. Love is acceptance, identification, understanding, communication, truth, God, you, me—it’s all the same thing. And it will be to everyone if they’ll look at it from the same point, from your very own center. If you look at it from your very own center, you’ll see that it’s all the same. Your very own center being your very own self with a capital ‘S’, the real you that you are, not this fake ego that we’re trying to make a big thing of.
[Discussion about giving]
Lester: But I’m trying to make a point that it’s not important whether you give money to them or not. The important thing is your attitude. You can give for the glory of giving or
being put up as a giver. That does you no good. Or you could have the attitude of what you just said and actually give no cash, and you’re doing far more good. So, it’s the attitude that’s important.
(10:35) “Love is the answer to all problems.” No matter what the problem is, if you will just apply love to the fullest extent possible and succeed, that problem will drop away immediately. Just don’t get aggravated, just know that everything is fine, everything is all right, and just feel love and you’ll see that problem resolve itself, no matter how difficult a problem it is. When there are problems, if we would love more, they would disappear. When the love is complete, the problem dissolves immediately.
(17:07) “Love is the cohesive force of the universe.”
(18:20) “Almost all people mistake ego-approval for love.”
“Love is not an emotion.” When I say love is not an emotion, emotion is energy in motion. It’s an intense, active, disturbing thing, an emotion is. The emotion of love is the most peaceful of feeling. And in that sense I mean that love is not an emotion.
(19:25) “People need each other and think it is love. There’s no hanging on to, or fencing in of the other one when one loves. Human love does not want to share its love with others, but rather wants its own personal satisfaction. Real love wants to share its love, and the more it is shared the more joyous it is.”
“There is no ‘longing for’ in love, because longing is separation. Love being oneness, it does not allow separation.”
(20:20) “Love cannot be applied to one and not to another. It is impossible to love one and hate another.” When we love one more than another, that one is doing something for us. That is human love. When one loves people because they are nice to him, that, too, is human love. True love is unconditional. In true love, one loves even those who oppose him.
See, the next sentence is a real test of where we stand on the subject of love: “We should love everyone equally.” This is a tremendous yardstick for measuring your growth. Equal-mindedness towards all beings, loving everyone equally, is actually the top state.
(25:45) “It is impossible to get love. Only by loving can one feel love. The more one looks for love, the more one doesn’t love”. It’s kind of indicting.
“One should strive to love, never to be loved. To be loved brings temporary happiness, ego inflation. When one loves fully, one can have no concept of not being loved.
(27:23) “One does not increase his love—one merely gets rid of one’s hate.” We can’t increase our love because that’s our natural state. Behind these concepts of non-love is always the infinite love that we are. We can’t increase it. All we can do is peel away these concepts of hatred so that this tremendous loving being that we are is not hidden.
Actually, we don’t keep increasing our love; we just keep doing away with the limited concepts of hate that we had before. And by hate I mean anything that’s not love—fear, envy, jealousy, [indifference]—all those attitudes are different degrees of hate. At least the way I use it they are. And so we really don’t increase our love; we undo our attitudes of hate. Our attitudes of hate, our thoughts of limitation. The greatest sin of all sins, the downfall, is the ego-sense, ‘I am an individual separate from the all.’ That’s the real fall into mankind. (33:30) Some day you’ll look around and you’ll just see yourself everywhere you look. You’ll have a feeling: You are me.” Without a question. Without a doubt: “You are me.”
Question: I’m trying to piece it together, but I haven’t seen that one yet.
Lester: You could. That word, I, is the exact same I no matter who uses it. When you get to the top state you have a consciousness: there’s a constant “I, I, I” that goes on in the top state. That’s all you see, hear, feel, think, know, just “I, I, I, I,” which is your beingness. And it’s beingness that never changes. Beingness always is.
Question: Is becoming the opposite of being? Don’t you have to become before you can be?
Lester: No. The becoming is an apparency. You are. I am what I am. It’s an am-ness.
Question: But before you can be, you have to take off these . . . blinders. But isn’t that the becoming?
Lester: It’s the apparent becoming, yes. But you are, so how can you become? It’s only an apparency that you are becoming.
Question: It seems like to me that you’re not there yet, so you have to . . .
Lester: It seems that way; you’re right. So therefore, it seems as though you’re becoming. But that’s a seemingness; that’s not the truth. The truth is you are, here and now.
Question: I’m in West Covina. I just haven’t gotten there yet.
Lester: No, you are there now, but you’ve got the silly limited concept that you’re only here, that you’re only that body and only through that body can you be somewhere. That’s not true. If you would see the truth, you’d see everything going on at home right now as you’re talking with me.
(37:20) But these are things that we cannot talk ourselves into: these are things we have to realize on our own. We have to see it through our own mind’s eye, so to speak—otherwise it’s just words. Someone who doesn’t think he’s omnipresent says: Well, that’s ridiculous. I’m right here. So until we realize this, it has no meaning, really, for us. But I say, try to realize it, and boy, what meaning it’ll take on when you find you are, always have been, always will be omnipresent.
(39:10) So, love is a thing the world sings about, writes about, has moving pictures about, and knows very little about. Love is portrayed in the movies as always a male and a female winning each other. The real love is winning the universe, not just one person, but every individual in the universe.
In the practical end of it, I left out, “Square all with love.” This is an excellent practice. During the day, if we try to fit everything into love, whatever we’re doing, it will make for rapid and tremendous progress. Square all with love—am I doing this with love? No matter what it is, do it with love.
Question: I was wondering, in your own experience, what were the steps, what breakthrough did you have that lead up to seeing yourself as all?
There is a shortcut: knowing who you are. How long does it take an omnipotent, omniscient being to know he is omnipotent and omniscient? He’s got all power, all knowledge. Now, how long should it take him to realize that he has it, if he’s got it? It could be done in a second.
A Love Exercise
Look at people around you and think to yourself, “I am that person; that person is me.”
Love is a power. It is the cohesive force of the universe.
Love is a feeling of givingness with no thought of receiving any return for it.
Love is the natural inherent state of man.
Love is a feeling, not a passion or an emotion.
There’s no clinging to, or possessing another when one loves.
Love is an attitude, and requires no action.
Only by loving can one feel love.
Whenever one feels good, one is loving. Whenever one feels bad, one is not loving.
Giving love brings happiness: the more we love, the happier we are.
One should strive to love, never to be loved. To be loved doesn’t bring happiness.
True love is unconditional: it is to love even one’s adversaries.
To love one’s enemy is the epitome of love.
Love is acceptance.
It is to love people because they are the way they are.
Love is taking people as they are.
Love is trust, because it expects nothing in return.
When one really loves, one can never be hurt.
Love is identification: it is being the other by identifying with the other.
Love is the answer to all problems.
One does not increase one’s capacity to love—one merely gets rid of unloving feelings.
We should love everyone equally.
Love and egoism are opposites.
Love is selflessness.
Love is a feeling of peace.
Loving others eliminates fear, anxiety and insecurity.
Loving others eliminates loneliness.
Loving others eliminates unhappiness.
Love is the means and the end.
Love is its own reward.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful. It is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
“Everywhere” – Fleetwood Mac