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. 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 body gratification. However, most of us have confused it very much with love, and the majority of us still tie it in with love. But when you see what sex is and what love is, you’ll see they’re two different things. They can be tied together, but 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 feelingness of givingness 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 love 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 families.
The concept of possession is just the opposite of themeaning 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, we have the 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 person his or her beingness. Let them be the way they want to be, never try to change them. To try to change them is to inject 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’s a full love you feel you are the other person, you treat the other person the way you would treat 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. The power behind love is without question 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 and not as we have been taught to think what love is. It is said 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. I think this leads us into seeing that this love is nothing but the Self with a capital ‘S’. This love is God. God is love, 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.
The 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. I think everyone knows the wonderful experience of love, of loving one person. So, you could imagine what it’s like if you love three billion people—it would be three billion times more enjoyable.
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 dimensions, many, many places of abode, and because of our incapacity to love on this planet, we have cut them off.
Question: “If you don’t feel more of a sense of togetherness with your family than with others, don’t you begin to separate yourself from them?”
That’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, and we have nothing but 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, but in the opposite way. So it’s a tremendous thing to learn this little secret of the power of love.
So, to come back to practice, 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, and 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.
The happy one is the one who is loving, the one who is giving.
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 I think the only way to receive love is to love, because what we give out must come back. But looking for love without loving does not bring us love, does not satisfy us. The happy one is the one who is loving, the one who is giving. Blessed is the giver because he’s so much happier, if he gives from his heart.
I’d like to remind you of another point. When we say we love one person more than another, if we would trace it through by going inwardly, we will find that the one that we love more is a person whom 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 divided 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.
The easiest thing in the universe to do is to love everyone. 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 everyday. But when we love, we’re at one with them, we’re at peace, and everything falls into line beautifully.
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 to everyone. See, by doing this you will develop it. But isn’t something you can turn on just like that.
Question: “Just like beingness is something we all have, we all have the ability to love. It’s just layered over by many attitudes.”
It’s smothered by wrong attitudes. Now, this love I talk about is our basic nature, it’s a natural thing, and 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. Then because we’re unloving, unloving comes back to us.
Question: “I know when I love somebody, I feel so good.”
It’s true, after you discover what love is. It’s the greatest thing in the universe. It’s a thing everyone wants only because it’s our basic nature in the first place. Every human being is basically a extremely loving individual.
Question: “Is it the same type of thing where your mind becomes still in one avenue of concentration, of acceptance of the other person, and therefore the mind is still? The true nature then comes through, which is the love.”
Yes, yes. The more we love, the less we have to think. If I’m not loving you, then 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, puts me extremely on the defensive, and subconsciously it builds up, year in and year out. 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.
Question: “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, isn’t it?”
Yes. It’s actually as you say; you’re taking it right from the top now. What he 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, and 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. Now, 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.
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 it’s just one absolute simplicity called God. God is simplicity, everything else is complexity. The greater the complexity, the further we are from God. That’s why God is one and only one, or one without a second.
Love is what every being is seeking through his every act.
Perhaps I should read off some of the definitions in The Ultimate Truth, there are so many ways it’s been said. I have these five pages on it. I remember that before this book came out I said I never know what to say on love, there isn’t much you can say about it. But I did and this was gathered over many, many talks. I could see I was attempting 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 givingness, with no thought of receiving any return for it.” That’s the one I started with. The givingness is not in things: the givingness is an attitude. Love requires no action. We can’t always give things, but we can maintain an attitude of love—it’s the attitude that’s important.
“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 really are 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. It’s the one who loves who feels great. So, wanting to be loved is going in a direction that can never be satisfied.
“Love is Acceptance.”
“Love is taking people as they are.”
“Love is loving the other one because the other one is the way the other one is.”
We are never hurt when we love.
“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. 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. It’s impossible to be hurt when we love fully. We are never 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.
“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.
“Love is what every being is seeking through his every act.” That’s a powerful one.
“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. When I say identify, I mean 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.
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.
“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.
“Love is not an emotion.” When I say love is not an emotion, emotion is energy in motion. An emotion is an intense, active, disturbing thing. The feeling of love is the most peaceful of feelings. And that is what I mean by “Love is not an emotion.”
“People need each other and think it is love. There’s no clinging to, or possessing 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 divine love, because longing is a feeling of separation. Love being oneness, it does not allow separation.”
“Love cannot be applied to one and not to another. It’s 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 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.
“One should strive to love, never to be loved.” 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.
“One does not increase his love, one merely gets rid of hatred.” We can’t increase our love because it’s our natural state. Behind these concepts of non-love is always the infinite love that we are. You can’t increase it. All you can do is peel away these limited concepts of hatred, so that this tremendous loving being that we are is not hidden. And by hatred I mean anything that’s not love—fear, envy, jealousy, indifference, all those attitudes are different degrees of hatred. And so we really don’t increase our love; we undo our attitudes of hatred.
Someday 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.” When you get to top state, you have a consciousness. There’s a constant I, I, I that goes on, on the top state. That’s all you see, hear, feel, think, know, just I, I, I, which is your beingness, a beingness that never changes. Beingness always is.
Question: “Don’t you have to become that before you are that?”
No. The becoming is an apparency. You are. There is an apparent becoming, yes, but you are, so how can you become? It’s only an apparency that you are becoming. That’s not the truth. The truth is you are, right now.
Question: “I just haven’t got there, yet.”
No, you are there now, but you 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. But these are things we can’t 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, ‘That’s ridiculous, I’m right here.’ So, until we realize this, it has no meaning for us. But I say, try to realize it and what meaning it’ll take on when you find you are, always have been, always will be omnipresent.
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 omnipresent 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
Throughout the day, look at people around you and imagine that each person is you.
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)
A Love Exercise
Look at people around you and think to yourself, “I am that person; that person is me.”