By Doug Marman
My wife, Karen, recently remembered a dream she had many years ago. In her dream she was at a seminar, in a roundtable discussion. Paul Twitchell was there. He started talking:
“Love connects everything,” he said. “All of life is held together by love. Every rock, every tree…everything.”
Thinking about this dream and looking across the decades since she had it, she said to me, “Listening to what Paul said was one thing, but knowing it is altogether different.”
This goes to the heart of the spiritual path: How do we know, really know, the meaning of spiritual love?
We won’t find it by reading books or listening to talks—although the stories of others can increase our hunger for it. Knowingness doesn’t come from thinking about love or trying to understand it with our mind. In fact, if we try to go after love directly, the very thing we are pursuing runs away from us.
The reality of spiritual love—the love that flows into this physical world from the inner and connects all things—doesn’t come from hunting it down. We can’t catch it or trap it like a wild animal.
How do we find it? To put it simply, we need experience. Once we have spiritual experiences, we begin to see and understand the reality of spirit lurking in the heart of everything around us.
This presents us with a paradox: We need spiritual experiences, but we can’t get them by going after them.
Fortunately, there’s a solution. Love isn’t something that can be owned or possessed because it only blossoms in relationships. So, to understand spiritual love, we must foster a relationship with all of Life.
It needs to develop the same way all relationships do. It takes time. It needs care. We must welcome Life into our home—invite her in. We need to ask and listen to what she wants of us. We need to make sacrifices, just as we would with any lover.
Some people long for a spiritual experience so powerful that it will prove to them, once and for all, the reality of spiritual love. But, even if you’re fortunate enough to have such an experience, it will fade over time. After a while, you’ll feel as if you once found the secret of life but lost it.
More important than dramatic encounters are the small spiritual blessings that come to us in our daily lives. Everyone has moments when they feel lifted by a subtle feeling that changes their mood. It might happen while we’re watching children playing or when we take a walk in the woods. Something comes over us and touches us deeply.
These are spiritual experiences. They can be so subtle that they’re barely noticeable. But they are gifts that Life sends our way. They’re invitations to enter a relationship with something larger than we can imagine. Life is opening a door for us. Don’t let these moments slip by.
These gifts are like ocean waves knocking at our door. Since when does the ocean come to someone’s door? These are extraordinary occasions. Dive in and let the waves carry you out, far beyond all doorways. Follow them wherever they take you. Their depths will surprise you.
Once you start to appreciate these blessings, they will change you. They will also start happening more often. Wait expectantly for another secret visit, another subtle feeling that lifts and moves you, and your relationship with Life will deepen. Make time in your life for her, wait by your door for her, and she will greet you every day.
The more you welcome Life into your home, the more doors she’ll open for you. She’ll show you all the secrets of love. Once you’ve felt her kiss a thousand times, you will know. You will know that you and Life find meaning in each other. Your secret rendezvous with her will continue as long as you keep awaiting her arrival.