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Love is here now

When it comes to love and fear, we don’t have much middle ground for distraction.

In a toss-up between love and fear, we’d like to bet on love, but we might be uneasy about gambling on love. Do we live in the hope of love but under the fear that fear is really the bottom line and that love is an ephemeral illusion? Is this any way to live? So long as we are tossed between fear and love, we haven’t really opened to love beyond illusion. It is only beyond this duality that we will find the love that is real, and that it is to be found at the heart of this very moment, ever now, always here.

Socrates taught that the unexamined life is not worth living. Might we say that the unexamined heart is not worth living? Plato said that the philosophic life (the systematically examined life) is a long preparation for death, and who doesn’t want to have a good death? But this is not about some morbid preoccupation with death, but about the truth of this very moment of life.

This is too momentous to leave for a time when we might be ill prepared for the task. And who knows when the moment of death arrives? It takes a bit of courage to face this, but far worse is to avoid it all your life. Who is prepared to examine their own heart? Aren’t there layers and layers of fears, shadows and evils to be found there that few mortals are prepared to examine?

Well, the good news is that philosophy, the love of wisdom, reveals something too good to avoid, too good not to live now. When we go deep into the heart, we find not the accuser or the betrayer that we might fear, but the very heart of the innermost mystery of the presence that is ever here and now.

We might relate to this as the “thou” which the heart engages with in the here and now. Some people might be terrified of its emptiness, its silence, because they are little children who want a parent who will comfort them. But if they go into who they themselves are, they will find they are that very presence, that very silence that is beyond all name and form, beyond all their stories, both good and bad, and that is what they find in the “thou” that meets them.

Presence meets presence in love. This is not the romantic love that comforts a character in a story, but the mature and wise presence of the love of the heart, of the mystery. Ever here, ever now, ever your true nature.

Trying to avoid fear and to seek love is a poor life strategy, because it is based on the untruth or illusion of separation. It keeps you enslaved in the past or future and out of connection with the depth or heart of the presence here now. The presumption that love is something to seek inevitably implies that it is something that could be lost, and that involves fear. The way of life that is driven by fear and desire, where even desire for good things is intrinsically woven with fear, is really a frightful way to live. It might seem good while things are going well, but it lives in the shadow of fear. And it is such an impoverished way of living, considering what is really available.

The way of love is based on the truth that love is a presence, is your own true nature and is always here. This contrasts with a love that one seeks to get from outside by controlling people and circumstances, and which can always leave.

On a relative level, a good strategy is to learn from both fear and love: from fear, learn what not to do, and from love, learn what to do. The greatest relationship, the greatest love, the one that will be there with you in your death, is the “thou” of presence in the heart, which during life you have come to know intimately as your own true nature. Maybe through fear you have come to determine all the false ways that you are truly afraid to rely upon, and you have come upon the one way that is reliable, and that is love.

It is true that at death, you don’t know, you might get distracted, you might get caught up in fear. But if you have, in the course of life, cultivated your relationship with love — love that is your own very nature and the nature of this moment — then you stand the best chance to be held in the arms of love during your transition.

It is not just some insurance to cover your own fear. You become wealthy, abundant with love and can radiate to others in their fears and needs that they might awaken to their true nature and abundance, and spread the great wealth. This is the good news and the great opportunity.

Ed Hirsch will offer a weekly Presence group in Ashland on Tuesday evenings, 7-9 p.m., at a public venue, starting Sept. 3, 2019. For more information, please contact him at presenceofone@yahoo.com Rogue Valley residents are invited to send 600 to 700 word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Sally McKirgan innerpeaceforyou@outlook.com